For our friends who wish to recreate their wardrobes as part of their conscious lifestyle, or who would like to transition into a mindful lifestyle through the insightful and creative space of ethical fashion, we have noted below some maxims to support you initiate and continue the practice. In our intention to live meaningfully, one of the foremost domains that many of us now feel naturally called to modify, are our wardrobes. And being so elementally attached to our body, our clothes connect viscerally with our being and human experience and hold an inexplicable influence in our everyday lives.
1. Reflecting on what a conscious wardrobe means or would mean for ‘you’
If you feel you would like to build a conscious wardrobe, we’d like to encourage you to think about what having or creating a ‘conscious wardrobe’ means for ‘you’ personally and how you feel connected with the idea. Is it that you would like to be more environmentally and socially just, or that you would like to make more informed decisions about (buying) clothes, or you would like to treat your clothes more mindfully, or that you would like to learn an alternative way to your existing practice? (Maybe all of them, and more). Deciphering our underlying inspirations for making a shift in our way of being with (our) clothes and fashion can guide us in adopting ways that would be authentic to who we are and to our own intentions. It also allows us to start viewing and thinking about how we would like to re-organise our wardrobe hereafter.
2. Beginning where we are
We feel that going through what we have in our existing wardrobes is a good place to begin the journey. Looking at our less sustainably and ethically made clothes, and thinking about how we can treat them ethically and with care can be an insightful step in the process. We would not want you to feel that you should do away with your present clothes and replace them with new mindfully made clothes. In place of solely buying sustainable clothing, we think being ethical with our current clothes can give a lot of room for creativity, learning and engaging with our clothes. Learning to make mends and small fixes (such as sewing buttons or patching a tear), washing with care, wearing clothes till their shelf life, repurposing them, cleaning our shoes in the right way and passing on clothes that may bring comfort to another are all small, yet vital ways in which we can begin having ethical interactions with our clothes, accessories and shoes.
3. Understanding the role fashion and dress play in our lives
Fashion and dress can mean different things and carry different influences upon us. They can be a medium through which we express ourselves and our individuality, a space of creative exploration, a recreational or formal occupation, a political and social tool, an art form – and more. Understanding in which ways we dominantly relate to them, would support us in visualising what kind of designs we would like to assimilate into our ethical wardrobe and the role they (would) play in our quotidian sphere.
Whenever you feel that you need to or would want to buy new clothing, it would be valuable to think about the funds you would like to allocate to it. We feel that some good ways of making budgeting decisions for our clothing are to think in terms of the price we would be paying for a particular fabric, silhouette, or item and in terms of the purpose the garments may serve for us (What occasion do we need them for? Everyday, work, gatherings, formal events and the like). This way, when you begin looking at clothes and shopping, you could have clarity on what you want to spend where, and keep with your intentions and concerns. A further thing we can be mindful of is the cost-per-wear of each garment we may purchase. Cost-per-value considers the value of a piece in relation to the number of times it can be, or is, worn. An instance is if we buy a dress for Rs. 4,000 and wear it 4 times a year, it’s cost-per-wear is Rs. 1,000 per wear. If we wear it 10 times a year, it’s Rs. 400, and so on. The price we pay for an item should be reflective of its functional value.
5. Researching for conscious and ethical fashion brands mindfully
When building a conscious wardrobe, it is constructive to keep researching and studying different ethical brands, and understand who they are, what their notion of fashion is, what kind of packaging they use, their aspirations with their brand and work, their materials and their story. These processes help to see and select whether their values align with ours and how we envision our wardrobe to be. They can also be very educational and offer inputs on how we can transition not only to ethical fashion practices, but also to ethical and mindful living. This would also give us the agency to observe the level of transparency, inclusion and diversity a brand offers, and to hold them accountable as consumers to make reforms – using the power we have through the internet and its multiple communication channels.
6. Balancing our present wardrobe with a vision of creating a conscious one
As you add new and conscious selections to your wardrobe, it can be meaningful to keep revisiting your existing and older pieces. Taking out our clothes, seeing what we like, what fits us well, why we purchased them and from where, can stir past memories that highlight our process of purchasing and the emotional connections we have created with them till now. This gives us the chance to integrate our collections, style varying silhouettes, and curate a holistic relationship with our clothes (and possibly with ourselves).
Our wardrobes evolve as we do, and we’d like to encourage you to build your conscious wardrobe one step at a time. Read from reliable sources, magazines and journals as your interests develop and try to incorporate practices that resonate with you. And as you make individual changes, it would be rewarding to also try to be involved in larger organisational changes at a pace which you are able to go at.