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.
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.
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]