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Mindful shopping: How to build a capsule wardrobe

mindful shopping tips from ethical t-shirt brand YUNION T

There has been a lot of talk in the last 6 months about a ‘changing tide’ in fashion – much like the sustainable food movement of the Noughties, we are now seeing consumers engaging more with the provinence and ethics of fashion manufacture. Continuing with the food analogy, buying habits we have seen through our pop-ups, fairs and chatting online with customers show a conscious move away from the junk food/fast fashion consumption – towards a more mindful shopping approach. We are being questioned more and more about how and where our women’s t-shirts are made – often one of the most mass-produced products in fashion. All our tees are designed and made in the UK – from our design studio in Sussex, our fabric is then woven in Nottingham and sewn in Leicester (read more here). We have full visibility and control of the manufacturing process and can give customers assurance to the origins of the clothes they buy from us – we want to be known as much for our ‘ultimate flattering fit’ as our high-standard of ethical manufacture.

ethical UK t-shirt brand

We believe that a fundamental part of mindful shopping is to reduce your fashion consumption – which might sound counter-intuitive to hear from a fashion brand – but we want you to ‘buy less, buy well’. We truly believe in the concept of ‘everyday luxury’ – investing in pieces that will become the cornerstones of your wardrobe and you will reach for again and again. Our design vision is for our wardrobe staple tees to be worn all year round, wash well and last. The mentality that a t-shirt only needs to last you one summer is simply not true. This year we are commiting to provide more content on how to wear and love what you own and less about ‘new trends’ to help support you in a more mindful shopping approach. Here are our tips on how to start:

Do a proper inventory not only of what you have but of what you WEAR
A great place to start in your ‘mindful shopping’ approach would be to do an inventory of your wardrobe as it stands. It will help you highlight your shopping trends (are you a denim hoarder? Do you buy repeatedly from one brand?). Once you’ve evaluated what you buy, now scrutinize what you actually *wear*. Lay out your ‘repeat wear’ items – your hero buys, or pieces you simply love wearing. What is it about them that make them a wardrobe staple? Learn from these buys and buy more of them. Use these as the foundation for your new ‘mindful wardrobe’.

Look for pieces that are multi-purpose to give you the most styling options
This is something we are going to be focussing on a lot this spring – demonstrating the versatility of our t-shirts. Whether it’s layered under knits, or as a standalone piece paired with jeans and trainers or a sequin skirt and heels… look to add pieces to your wardrobe that are going to ‘work hard’ for you. Do they go with the rest of your wardrobe? Can you mix and match them with pieces you already own?

Buy the best you can afford… and look after it
The mindful approach to fashion doesn’t end with the purchase – if you are looking to consume less, invest in maintaining and looking after the items in your wardrobe. Tumble drying your tees for example will drastically reduce their lifespan and fit quality. Current generations have fallen out of the habit of mending and maintaining our clothes. Getting shoes re-heeled, clothes professionally repaired of cleaned will all increase their longevity and keep them in your wardrobe for longer.

Look for natural fibres
Investing in natural fibres such as wool, cashmere, silk, cotton, linen and leather will, generally, mean a better quality item. It won’t affect the ethical credentials of the garment, but it will wear better, meaning it will last (if cared for properly!). Knitwear is a key example of this – acrylic and other synthetic knits bobble and lose shape much more quickly that luxury knits in wool and cashmere. Any pilling on natural fibres can be simply removed with a wool comb. Not only will they last longer by natural fibres also improve performance – whether its the breathability of cotton, or insulatory properties of wool – if a garment is a joy to wear (and fit for purpose!) you are much more likely to wear it again and again.

Think in terms of cost per wear
If your argument for buying ‘fast fashion’ is down to budget – change your mind-set to each purchase and rather than thinking about the initial investment, think in terms of cost per wear. T-shirts are the perfect example of this – a cheap £10 t-shirt may seem like a bargain yet if it’s see-through, unflattering and loses its shape after 3-4 washes you are only going to wear it half a dozen times. One of my proudest moments in business was a customer who sought me out at fair last year to show me her 2-year old YUNION T t-shirt that she couldn’t believe was ‘as good as new’. She had worn it regularly, washed it carefully and estimated the cost per wear in pence.

Ask the questions
If a brand’s website is ambiguous as to the origins or manufacture of their designs – ask the questions. If more brands are questioned and consumers vocalise the importance they put on ethical manufacture it will change the fashion landscape even faster. Another benefit of shopping from independent fashion brands is that you can often speak with the designer/maker – rather than a ‘customer services’ spokesperson. I love talking face to face with customers on the stands at shows and talking them through our manufacture process.

If you have any questions about how our t-shirts are made, email me melanie@yuniont.com

 

 

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