4 Ways Bloggers can Influence Sustainability in the Fashion Industry


As a fashion blogger, do you realize how influential you are? As Jennine wrote in her post “Actually, Bloggers do influence people to buy,” blogs are third behind brand sites and retail sites in online resources that influence people to buy. You probably know this already if you use affiliate links, or have a close community of readers, but it's worth noting again: YOU ARE INFLUENTIAL.

Most of our efforts as fashion bloggers are focused on showcasing what we buy, wear, and the designers we love, but what is our responsibility towards creating a more conscious consumer and a more sustainable fashion industry? Unless you live under a rock, you are probably aware of how much waste goes on in retail – clothing being shredded and thrown away instead of donated, focus on quantity and low price over quality – but may not have thought very much that you can do something about it.

You can.

Sustainability in the fashion industry is an important issue lately, and has been discussed with some consistency amongst the higher-ups for years. What “sustainability” means exactly is up for grabs, but I do see consensus that the industry should make more efforts to reduce waste (both in production and on the consumer side), produce higher-quality pieces, and maintain stricter (higher, fair-er) labor standards in their factories. Ultimately though, even if the industry is slow to change, we as connoisseurs of fashion and serious shoppers can and SHOULD do our part to educate and influence our readers to shop more consciously by doing so first ourselves.


Buy local – Buy small

Since I live in the US, I make every effort to make sure that most of my clothing is made in the US. Besides the fact that my clothing has less distance to travel from Los Angeles than China, I appreciate the fact that I'm supporting “local” industries and business. Buying “small” is also important – seek out independent designers on etsy.com that make leather bags, or jewelry and buy from them instead of going to Target. Wherever you live, seek out local businesses to buy from, learn about heritage industries and try to support them staying alive.

Buy the best quality you can afford

I know the appeal of H&M and Zara, and now that H&M has recycling boxes in their stores, I feel a little less bad about the few pieces I buy there every season, but ideally, the bulk of your wardrobe should be made up of higher-quality items. That will probably mean buying fewer items and taking care of them better, but in the long run, you'll be happier for it, and so will the rest of the planet! There's a lot of “keeping up with” and feeling like you have to have the latest thing all the time in the fashion blogging world, but that's not reality for most of our readers. They try to get by on budgets, don't have access to gifted items and need practical ideas for work & play; not necessarily the newest whatever from Isabel Marant or ModCloth.

Recycle/sell on your blog

If you have things you've outgrown, don't like anymore, or are just ready to get rid of, donate them, or sell them on your blog (or give them away)! Lots of bloggers now have stores attached to their blogs and offer things up for sale to their readers. This is obviously easier to do with higher quality items, but it's a great way to connect with your readers AND recycle clothes/accessories you're done with. Just please don't insult them by charging anywhere close to full-price…and especially don't try to sell gifted items.

Buy pre-owned

There are a lot of great bloggers out there who make up most of their outfits from thrifted or secondhand items. Thrifting, buying items on ebay or from your favorite consignment store are great ways to keep high-quality garments in circulation (out of landfills) and be innovative and fresh with your style. You won't look like exactly like every other fashion blogger, and you will serve as an example to your readers that style isn't about following trends, it's about being yourself…

Do you already do any of these things? Do you feel like you're making an impact with your readers?

[Image from Stewart + Brown]

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26 Responses

  1. Paulette Hughes

    This is a great article. I really admire bloggers who go the distance of being a conscious consumer. There are a lot of us out there who are lovers of vintage and thrift-shop items. Labels don’t matter to me, and while I do buy pieces from Target and a few other mass-market retailers, I donate them when I am finished. Plus, especially for we who live in the Midwest, we don’t have access to many of the things we see on the high-end blogs, so I admire creative dressers who use what they have in new ways.

  2. Kaylee Slater

    Surprisingly, this thought has never actually occurred to me… As a student, I always love to shop at places with lower-quality items for less, such as Forever21 and H&M. Now I will definitely start thrifting and being more conscious of my actions. Thank you so much for this article!

  3. Linda Geiser

    All great points! I love that you mentioned “Buy The Best You Can Afford”. This holds true for all artifacts in life. – Disposable IKEA furniture is taking up big space in landfills.

  4. Angie

    This has been my new passion — thank you for spreading awareness! My latest resources for do-good fashion finds are fashioningchange.com (the largest selection I’ve found so far) and brands that give back, like Elegantees, Sevenly, 4Love Clothing and Give Jewelry.

  5. Daniel

    I have to admit that sustainability isn’t something I’ve consciously thought about in the past. However, I do shop in vintage shops and buy pre-owned, so I suppose that does, in part, cover it. I definitely think that going that extra mile to ensure that what you’re buying is of the best quality possible for your budget is important. Although, despite living in England, I love what overseas brands offer, so I am guilty of not always striving to shop locally. Perhaps I’ll have to do some research and see what I can find in England. Thanks for this article!

  6. Vicky

    I like this article. And I love thrift and consignment shopping you find really good clothes at affordable prices and I just love the vintage feel. Btw I’m an amateur blogger. And hope to gain some type of following to my site. It will mean a lot to me for anyone to check out my material and hopefully comment.
    Thank You

  7. Tiffy Diamond

    I definitely went through my forever 21 phase and I’m proud to say other than a few basics, ie leggings. I stick to indie designers (which I showcase on my blog a lot), local boutiques and consignment stores. I also love vintage and rummaging estate sales. I just rather have something high quality that will last me and that supports a designer or local business. 🙂 Great article.

    Blog: CuteLA.com

  8. Monica

    I live in Guatemala, the fashion industry here is small, There aren´t a lot of fashion bloggers but Im trying to support them with my blog.
    This weekend we did a cloth swap with other bloggers and their friends. We are trying to promote clothes swaps as our society is a little bit old fashion.

  9. Style is sustainable fashion

    Love this post and loving all of the talk about sustainable fashion on IFB at the moment. Bloggers are really influential. I think even those with just a few followers can make a difference by being more sustainable.

  10. mia

    My consumer behavior was completely excessive the last years and I couldn’t change it even with the best resolutions. This is why I started my project with my 6 month shopping ban. Since January I am not shopping, not even vintage clothes or jewelry and in July I am planning to make better choices when it comes to new clothes. (if you want, read more about it here: http://heylilahey.blogspot.de/2013/04/update-on-my-shopping-ban.html)

  11. Rachel from My Fair Vanity

    As a blogger focused on sustainable fashion, I am so happy to see this piece, and Project #91! I could not agree more with your suggestions, and I look forward to even more posts like this one. I also really liked the IFB post on plus-size bloggers (“23 Blogger changing the scene”)— I would love to see a round-up of bloggers who focus on sustainable fashion, eco-fashion, made in the USA, etc., someday. Thanks again for a great post, Gretchen!


    Rachel from My Fair Vanity

  12. Elena

    With the stores like Forever 21 and H&M I forgot about expensive but high quality items, but you are absolutely right, it’s so much better to invest in one good piece than 15-20$ cheap one. Thrifting is the great option!

  13. erikarodica

    I love love love thrift shopping! It doesn’t always give you good value for money (even though most of the items are dirt cheap) but it all depends on how you select the items you purchase. Semi-pro thrift shopper here! 🙂

    🙂 Erika

  14. Kristi

    I have a blog + fashion line that is focused on sustainable and ethical fashion. I’m happy to see this post as it reaffirms the change that I believe is imminent in our society – moving from disposable fashion to mindful consumption.
    Thanks for sharing.

  15. Lee Ann

    My sister and I love to talk about, and feature outfits with, sustainable and recycled fashion. It’s so much easier to be unique when you avoid the Big Box fashion stores. Nearly everything I purchased at such retailers ended up at my local Goodwill during my last move. Our credo: Buy thoughtfully, buy the best you can afford, and buy to build your wardrobe. Please share your thoughts at StiffStyleGuide.blogspot.com xx

  16. Libby // Collection Of Good

    I blog from Australia exclusively on ethical and sustainable fashion and lifestyle. It’s great to see discussion about this important part of the fashion industry here on IFB! I’m really passionate about both the need for fashion to be sustainable and ethical, as well as spreading the word to people that this doesn’t have to mean it’s absent of ‘fashion’. It is often just as or more beautiful to put together an outfit that you know doesn’t leave a negative impact on the planet! Thanks for bringing this discussion to the IFB community!

  17. EKOLUV

    Wow, thanks for sharing Gretchen! What a great article, It’s still hard to find great content out there discussing the importance of sustainable fashion and the vital role fashion bloggers play in creating more awareness. It is easier than most people think to shop more consciously, I believe with more awareness and information people are usually more than happy to be the solution to the negative impacts of the fashion industry and take responsibility for our purchases and our lifestyle with regards to people and the environment. As an ethical and sustainable fashion blogger nothing makes me more happy than to see posts like these! I hope to see more from IFB, thanks again for allowing others to think more critically! 🙂 <3

    Ethical.Sustainable.Fair Trade. Organic. Hand Made. DIY. Recycled Blog/Boutique

  18. Enya

    I’ve found evidence that I’ve influenced people to buy a certain Item because, since working with Jack Wills I’ve bought a dress about 3 months ago at 80% of price £24 since my local one is an outlet yet has the same stock has other stores. The dress I bought was in normal shops & jackwills.com for £49. Since I’ve started wearing it & sharing it on blog etc plus they’ve put it to my purchase price it’s now completely sold out in both versions on jackwills.com

  19. Hoda Katebi

    This is a wonderful article! Thanks so much!

    And actually, knowing that bloggers influence shopping habits is one reason I actually started blogging! I am an avid activist and am boycotting a lot of clothing stores, and hoped that as I grow, I could combine my activism with my love of fashion and promote socially-responsible shopping! I even have my boycott list on my blog!

    <(") Hoda