4 Things We’ve Learned About Building Sustainable Wardrobes

Do you ever feel like shopping sustainably doesn't feel very, well, sustainable? We get the feeling! It can be exhausting to figure out how to make the most ethical choice possible every time you shop. You know why it’s so important to shop sustainably and support fair wages and safe workplaces for garment workers, but where on earth do you find the time?

Three images of Wearwell Co-founders Erin Houston and Emily Kenney preparing models for a photoshoot of ethical and sustainable clothing and accessories

Wearwell's co-founders Erin Houston (left) and Emily Kenney (right) during a photoshoot

Before starting wearwell, we each spent a decade building careers in social impact. In our free time, we began our journeys to become more sustainable shoppers. We each spent hours upon hours researching brands and familiarizing ourselves with what it takes to build not just a more sustainable wardrobe, but a more ethical fashion industry overall. Yet, after all of the time spent researching, it was still difficult to shop this way on a daily basis. It was simply too time-consuming to decipher true impact from greenwashing while also meeting our style, budget, and sizing needs.

Our hot take: it doesn’t have to be this way. What began years ago as a list of brands we personally wanted to support has grown into wearwell: a membership service and marketplace that makes it easy to discover and shop sustainable and ethically made clothing, accessories, and home goods from brands that walk the talk when it comes to sustainable fashion. 

wearwell's co-founders Emily Kenney and Erin Houston laughing and talking about sustainable and ethical clothing and accessories
Wearwell's co-founders Emily Kenney (left) and Erin Houston (right)

So, let us help you ditch the overwhelm and analysis-paralysis that too often comes with shopping sustainably. Here are our 4 pro tips from what we’ve learned while building a company that makes it easy to shop sustainably: 

Do what you can...but not all at once!  

Social pressures (and social media!) can often make us feel like we’re not doing enough to be sustainable if we’re not doing everything. And that makes it a lot more tempting to just give up. But guess what? No one is sustainable all the time! Living more sustainably can look different depending on your location, daily life, and budget. Be kind to yourself and instead of thinking about all the things you should be doing, focus on what you can do today. 

Identify what matters most to you 

Being a conscious consumer becomes a lot easier when you get clear on what your values are. Unfortunately, living sustainably can feel complicated since nearly every decision has tradeoffs that can be overwhelming to wade through every time you shop. For example, take vegan leather: If you care most about animal protection, vegan leather is an excellent sustainable option for you. The tradeoff, however, is that the plastic in some vegan leather can take up to 500 years to decompose. So, if you want to prioritize the environment, opt for reclaimed and repurposed leather. Take a moment to identify the 3 top issues that you care about most. When you identify which type of impact means the most to you, it becomes your roadmap and sustainable choices become easier over time. 

Break it down into bite-sized nuggets 

We’ll let you in on a little secret: you don’t have to be an expert in every part of sustainable and ethical fashion! Try picking one facet of sustainable fashion that interests you most and start there. Maybe it’s learning about sustainable fabrics dyes, or understanding the root causes of why the mainstream industry doesn’t pay fair wages to garment workers, or how to make your secondhand finds even more sustainable. Choose one topic to dip your toe into and go deeper until you feel like you know enough to make informed choices. Then, move on to the next topic that interests you and dive in!

Make it easy for yourself 

Set yourself up for success by having your go-to shops and resources already lined up. Ease comes when you can replicate a choice without having to research all over again. Find trusted places to shop that have sourcing standards that align with your top values. Or let us here at wearwell do the legwork for you! We make it easy to learn about the impact our brand partners have so that you know they are already vetted for fair wages and environmental sustainability.

At the end of the day, remember: perfection isn’t the goal. In your journey to live more sustainably, the most impactful thing you can do is simply get started!

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