Following my conversation with Nikissi of VINTAGE OR VIOLENCE on the reality of what happens to the majority of donated clothes, this episode is going to explore some conscious alternatives for what to do with our unwanted clothes.
I’ll also do some other Q&A of questions I receive often on Instagram that I don’t always have the capacity to answer to the fullest extent.
Below, you will hear (or read!) about:
- The different options for rehoming your old clothes
- Where and how to send or recycle old clothes responsibly
- Tips for upcycling and recycling damaged clothes that can’t be resold or re-worn
- Where to find sustainable underwear, bras, and socks
- My recommendations for sustainable fashion platforms or marketplaces (including secondhand ones)
If you have a question that you would like me to address in a podcast episode, or invite a guest on to address, you can send me a DM on Instagram @consciousstyle or contact the team here!
Tune in to this episode of the Conscious Style below, or on your favorite podcast app
Quick Links: Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, or Google Podcasts
Other Episodes Mentioned:
- EP31 The Reality of the Secondhand Clothing Trade
- EP17 More Creativity, Less Consumption: Tips from Slow Fashion Stylist Alyssa Beltempo
- EP7: How to Make the Most of Your Wardrobe with Jess Atkins
- EP25 #SwapBeforeYouShop: The Many Benefits of Clothes Swapping with Nicole Robertson
- EP23 How Can We Make Fashion Rental More Sustainable? with Eshita Kabra of By Rotation
- EP1 What is Ethical Fashion? Here’s What You Need to Know
- EP2 What is Sustainable Fashion + Why Does it Matter?
- EP3 What is Slow Fashion and How Can You Participate in the Movement?
- EP4 How to Tell if a Fashion Brand is Green — or Just Greenwashing
- EP20: How We Can Make Mending Mainstream with Josephine Philips of Sojo
- How and Where to Recycle Your Old Clothes
- Organic & Eco-Friendly Underwear Brands
- Sustainable Socks
- Eco & Organic Bralettes
Organizations & Apps Mentioned:
*contains affiliate links*
- Eileen Fisher
- Organic Basics
- Conscious Step
- Christy Dawn
- Plato’s Closet
- The RealReal
- Vestiaire Collective
- Made Trade
- Eco Fashion Labels
- Know The Origin
- The Green Labels
Read the Transcript From This Episode
Hey there, and welcome or welcome back to the Conscious Style Podcast. I’m your host, Elizabeth Joy. And this is a show dedicated to exploring what it will take to create a more sustainable and equitable future for fashion.
Today’s episode is a bit different, because I am going to be answering some of your questions. So I am going to be doing a few more solo episodes this season and that’s for a couple of reasons.
One, interviews are amazing, and I love them and I love meeting such incredible thought leaders in this space. But they are time consuming to coordinate and run. And I was feeling a bit rushed by it all and I want to make sure that this podcast stays very intentional and I’m not rushing through producing these episodes.
So for some context, I do pre-calls with my guests now in addition to the actual interview that you hear here. And this takes more time, but I feel like it fosters smoother conversations and deeper discussions when we do get into the actual interview, which hopefully results in high quality episodes for you, you know, as high quality as possible.
And as I was talking about with Natalia Gomez in Episode 33, on conscious marketing, the concept of fewer better things also applies to content creation, I think. And that is especially true when it’s just a small team over here and we have limited funds to run everything as well. So that’s reason one.
And then I guess the second reason is that I want to do more solo episodes, because I just feel like I don’t get to talk to you all as much as I would like to and that I used to, you know, the first several episodes of this podcast are all solo episodes. And I really want to connect with you all, more.
Of course, it’s a bit one sided, I guess, with a podcast, since I can’t see or hear any of you. But a lot of the podcasts I listen to, there are solo episodes with the host, or the host has a long introduction. And I just feel like it allows me as a listener to connect better with them, even if we never meet. And I just love that. It sort of makes the interviews more enjoyable, because I feel like I know the host better.
And also, I do get to connect with you all in some way if you DM me on Instagram over @consciousstyle, if you’re not following already, or you know, through another platform.
But yeah, that was just a bit of context for this decision. This podcast is an ever evolving project so it’s subject to change but that’s how I’m feeling for now. I hope that you enjoy these episodes. They won’t all be Q&A style, sometimes I’ll just, you know, do deep dive into a topic that I really wanted to research and I will put together an episode on that.
But this episode is a Q&A because I received questions through Instagram quite frequently that I don’t always have the time to answer to the fullest extent. You know, I can’t always do a super in-depth response to every question. And I also often get repeat questions. So actually, both of the questions I’m addressing in this episode are questions that I’ve gotten several times so I imagine some of you out there have these same questions too.
Before we get into those, I just want to remind you that the transcript for this episode is going to be in the show notes on consciouslifeandstyle.com. And the links I mentioned here are also going to be in the show notes.
So there are transcripts for every episode. And of course, the primary reason is for accessibility, but also just so that you don’t have to memorize anything or take notes. You know, we’ve got you covered — you can just go back and reference the section of this episode that you might have missed or you wanted to go back to.
Okay, so I think that covers it for the background and context. Let’s get on to the first question.
So this question is very relevant to the first episode of the season, episode 31 with Nikissi of Vintage or Violence, about the global secondhand clothing trade and the reality of where many clothing donations end up the question, and I received several variances of this question. But essentially, the question is something like, “Where can I send or recycle my old clothes, responsibly?”.
So, you know, some people ask me about specific types of items, and others are more general. But I can’t always respond to the individual questions and every DM or comment to the full extent because it would be such a long answer.
Because A, there are a lot of options and B there, you know, there’s context to consider, since I don’t know, always which items you want to rehome, what condition they’re in, and then what options are available to you locally. But I think a podcast is the perfect place to elaborate more on this question.
I also did write a blog post about this that will be linked in the show notes. But essentially, what I have to say on this is that first and foremost, what we should be focusing on, I feel in the slow fashion community is reducing first.
So you know the whole, like, all the R’s, reduce, reuse, recycle. So reduce is first for a reason, right? Because if we are reducing what we are bringing inside of our closets, or our homes, that means that we have less that we have to figure out the end of life for.
So that is definitely the first thing that I would say. You know, we talk a lot about buying less, wearing what you have more. There are several episodes of the show that go into tips for that. There’s a great one with Alyssa Beltempo. There’s also one with Jess Atkins of Stylebook. So go back to those episodes, if you want some tips and wearing what you have more.
Sometimes things that we think that we want to get rid of just need to be restyled and maybe tailored a bit, or just mixed up with a different accessory or a different item.
But okay, sometimes you already have that clothing in your closet, you’ve tried to restyle it, and it just isn’t working. Maybe it’s not the right size, and you just can’t fix it in a way that it fits well, or it’s just totally not you anymore, or is uncomfortable or whatever.
So there are quite a few different options for rehoming this clothing. And as a general rule of thumb, I try to think about the most local option and like the highest grade option, so like, what is the highest use for that item.
So if the item is in totally wearable condition, the best thing to do is make sure it can get worn again by somebody else. So like, if it is a shirt that you’ve only worn a few times, or in general, you just kept it up really nicely, it’s probably not a great candidate for like textile recycling, because the shirt itself is in good enough condition to be worn as is.
And so for things like that, so things that are in great condition, I would definitely suggest trying to sell to your local consignment shop, or sell online through an online secondhand site.
So there are some secondhand sites where you can basically get a bag and send in all your clothes at once and they’ll give you an upfront payment, or there are ones where you can individually sell each garment.
And of course, the ones where you can individually sell each garment, you’re gonna have more transparency into that. Like when you’re just sending in a huge bag of clothes to a store, you don’t know how much of that is getting sold, and then what is happening to the things that are not getting sold. I mean, some places might tell you but not like specifically like what’s happening to your exact pair of jeans that you sent.
So generally, I would say it’s great to try to sell those items one by one so that you really know that it is getting a second home. Although I know there are obviously time privileges wrapped up in that, so do the best that you can and I think that if you can try to get it into another person’s closet, that is amazing.
And what’s really incredible to see is that there are more and more brands offering take back and resell programs where you can sell or trade in your pre-owned garments and accessories from that brand.
So a major example of this is Patagonia. And then another leader in this space is Eileen Fisher but these days there are more and more brands getting in on that game. I have a guide to conscious fashion brands that have take back and resell programs that I’ll link in the show notes.
And then there also are sort of non typically sustainable brands or like big fashion brands that are starting to do this as well. So that’s really nice if you can send that garment back. They hopefully can repair it or freshen it up if need be, and then resell it. So that’s a great option.
Another option is to swap that garment. So you could do that through an informal way by you know, arranging something with your friends, having a little swap party or just swap get together where you bring a few pieces that you no longer wear, they bring a few pieces they no longer wear and you switch it up.
Of course, this only works if you have similar tastes and similar sizes. If that doesn’t work to do that with your friends or family, there are also swapping platforms and swapping apps. If you’re based in the US, I recommend Swap Society, I’m actually a member with Swap Society. And I interviewed the founder of society on this show, Nicole Robertson. So go back to that episode, if you want to learn more about swapping and Swap Society.
But basically, I can send in the clothes that I no longer wear or aren’t my style anymore and then I get “Swap Coin” to use to get new-to-me garments that are also preloved from other people’s closets. So that’s a way to do it if you know it doesn’t work out to meet up with people you know.
And then in the UK, there is an app called Nuw, it’s N-U-W. And I’ve heard good things about that one as well so that’s something to check out. And then if you’re based elsewhere, I think just do a quick search online and see if you can find something. And maybe there might be another swapping app or shopping platform or maybe a swapping event. I don’t know really how many events are happening since we’re still, you know, in a pandemic. But yeah, swapping is a great option.
Also, I will add that our amazing contributing writer Stella wrote an entire guide to how to host your own clothing swap. If there aren’t any clothing swaps happening near you and you want to start your own, there are a lot of great tips in that article. So that will be in the many links in the show notes.
So another option for your clothing, especially if your clothing is like higher end or designer items, you can rent them out for extra cash. So there are platforms like By Rotation, Hurr and that’s H-u-r-r, and Tulerie.
And again, I interviewed the founder of By Rotation on this podcast and we talked all about peer to peer rental platforms. And basically, they’re a way for people who have things in their closets that they’re just not wearing. It’s a way to get more uses out of those garments. So if you have a really nice piece that you’re just like not wearing, maybe you can rent it out.
Okay. And then finally, you might be asking, well what about donations? You know, I don’t care about making money off of this piece, I just want to clean my closet. And you know, I don’t mind donating it and getting nothing in return.
Well, I think the biggest thing to watch out for with this is that, due to the declining quality and increasing quantity of discarded and donated clothing, many charity shops are not able to sell everything that they receive. And for much, much more on this, go back to Episode 31 with Nikissi.
But essentially, the takeaway here is that there is just a lack of transparency with the whole donated clothing market, you know, what is happening to the clothes that don’t get sold on the shop floors.
So if you are going to donate clothing, I just really encourage you to ask questions to that organization or to the brand accepting that donated clothing. You know, asking them specifically where they are going to send those clothes. Ideally, that would be somewhere local. And they would be actually keeping those clothes intact and not downcycling them.
So some examples of local organizations you could check out would be homeless shelters, women’s centers, refugee agencies. I know that some of these organizations are not accepting donated clothing at the moment with COVID still, but it’s worth checking out. And if this isn’t possible, there are also organizations that ask for specific types of items that have very specific uses for those items.
So one great example is bras. Bras are something that might not necessarily make sense to always resell or to just put in a general donation bin, but there are several organizations that take gently used bras, such as Free The Girls, I Support The Girls and The Bra Recyclers.
I have personally used one of those to donate gently used bras — and I forget which one it was — but essentially, these organizations collect the gently used bras and also new bras. So if you bought a bra that didn’t fit, right, and you couldn’t return it, this is also a great use for those.
But essentially, these organizations will distribute the bras to survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence, maybe people in shelters, it varies based on organization. But those three organizations that I listed out, which will be linked in the show notes, all do have a direct connection, you know, a direct use for those bras.
And then, of course, there is your local Buy Nothing group. So many places around the world have Buy Nothing Facebook groups. And so that’s always something to try. If you have something in good condition that you just don’t have a use for anymore, it doesn’t fit.
You can post that in your Buy Nothing Facebook group and see if anybody has an interest in those items. I have not tried this one out myself, I’m still trying to join my local Buy Nothing Facebook group, because I recently moved. But anyway, that’s something to check out.
And then something similar to that is FreeCycle. So the FreeCycle Network is a global nonprofit that basically connects people who want to give and get stuff for free. So there are over 5,000 groups and 9 million members. So it’s not as big as Facebook, but it’s still pretty huge. So that’s something to check out.
And then a third one is Trash Nothing. And this one operates quite similarly to Freecycle.
And I guess there’s a fourth one that I might add here. I don’t know if this one is available outside of the US, but there’s also one called OfferUp. And OfferUp is primarily selling things to your local community. But sometimes they also list things for free. So people also do give items for free with OfferUp.
And so with all of these options, you know exactly where your item is going, right? You are like sometimes even seeing the person who is getting the item that you want to donate or just give out for free. I guess that’s basically the same thing but I don’t know if it’s still called donating if it’s not to a nonprofit. But anyway, with these, you not only have transparency into where this donated or you know, just unwanted item is going, but you are also minimizing the emissions.
So with the typical sort of donation clothing scheme, you might send it to your local charity shop, and there is a chance that it will get sold. But there’s a higher chance that it won’t, and it will be baled up and shipped to another country, perhaps across the entire ocean. So just some things to consider.
I do understand that of course, selling or donating each item individually is going to require more effort. But as Nikissi and I talked about in episode 31, the more that we care for the end of life of our stuff, our clothes, but this also goes for really everything, the more intentional we are and the more we have to like actually find a new home and not just dump it and put it in the trash or drop it off at some charity shop in huge trash bags, the less we will buy.
So the more we have to be conscious of how we are taking care of what happens to our stuff after we’re done with it, the less we’ll want to buy because we understand like, we can’t just toss it somewhere when we’re done with it. You know, we actually have to care for it, which means we have to do everything a little bit slower. There’s no quick fix. There’s no quick way to clear our closets or clear our homes — we have to sort of take responsibility for that end of life.
And obviously, that’s a lot of responsibility to put on the individual. Large scale we do need to see extended producer responsibility legislation. Like companies at the end of the day need to be the ones taking responsibility for the products that they produce because they’re the ones profiting off of producing those products.
We, as the consumers bought those products, so we had to purchase them. And then we also have to take care of their end of life, maybe in some cases spend money to take care of the end of life, which is so messed up.
So, large scale, we need more responsibility put on the companies. And, you know, I don’t want this episode to feel super heavy, or like shaming or blaming or anything like that.
You know, I’ll just quickly add here that I totally was one of those people that put all my clothes into trash bags and dumped them at Goodwill. Like, I’m just going to be upfront about that. I was one of those people. I’m embarrassed how much I dropped off at Goodwill, that like, wasn’t even really wearable, or it was like costumes, and I didn’t even try to time it in October around, you know, Halloween, or anything like that. It was quite irresponsible.
And it was because I was sort of hooked on keeping, buying more stuff. And so my closet only had so much space and it’s all connected, right? Like this overconsumption is inherently connected to the waste crisis, you know, the over-discarding of stuff, of course.
So I just say that to like, help you not maybe feel terrible about yourself, if you have done it and know that it’s okay to, you know, change behaviors once you know, new information.
And that’s really what conscious fashion is all about. That’s what this journey is all about: sustainable lifestyle, slow living, whatever. It’s all quite similar. We are unraveling these systems together. You know, the fashion industry is a super massive ecosystem of many moving parts. And we’re just working through it together doing the best that we can unlearning, learning.
That’s why I love talking to our guests on the show. Like this podcast has been really transformative for my journey, getting to hear from so many experts in their various fields. And I never want the information presented here to feel like oh, well, you should have known that. Or how could you not know that?
Because like these things are intentionally hidden from individuals, intentionally hidden from consumers. Like, yes, I do absolutely feel guilty for not asking more questions and for assuming that somebody would want my stained old garments, like how did I think that was okay?
But that sort of leads into the next point that I wanted to make, which was if you are donating clothing, or of course selling it, or swapping it or lending it out any of those things, keep in mind that it is going to another person, another person who just like you wants to receive even used garments, clean and in as good condition as possible.
So wash those garments before you donate them, sell them, whatever. And if you can, try to fix the small issues, maybe if there’s like a button coming off, fix that, or take it to a tailor or seamster that can fix that for you. Again, it would be best if companies did this. And some of them do repair the garments before they try to resell them. But not everywhere does, unfortunately. So given the current state, you may need to do that yourself or take it to somebody who can do it.
And then maybe also advocate for brands or organizations to implement mending and repair programs themselves, especially if that brand or organization is the one making the money off of that resold garment. So I know Patagonia does this — they will repair and resell pieces. And Eileen Fisher also has been doing it for quite a while. So these are two of the brands leading the way.
I know there are also a lot of small conscious fashion brands that do this. So shout out to all of you who are taking responsibility for the full lifecycle of your products. That’s amazing. That is a sustainable fashion future that I would love to see.
Okay, so moving on to clothing that is more damaged that really can’t be resold or re-worn. So, as I mentioned before, it’s great if you can mend things, take it to a tailor or seamster if you don’t have sewing skills or you don’t have the time to mend that garment yourself.
And you know to find those you can just do a quick internet search of seamsters in your area or tailors in your area. I know a lot of dry cleaners also offer those services. And then there are a growing number of apps that connect you to seamsters, which is super cool.
I actually had on this show, the founder of Sojo, which is a mending and repairs app based in London. So check out that episode with Josephine Philips for more on mending apps, and how they can make mending mainstream.
But anyway, if you have already explored those options, and the garment is just beyond the point that it can be fixed even by a professional, then maybe you consider upcycling it. So can it be cut up into say, patches and recycled into a quilt? Or do you know somebody who could do that? Do you know somebody who could use fabric, maybe a local business, or maybe just someone who loves DIY projects.
Another I think easier project is something that actually was suggested by a follower on Instagram, that DM’d me this, but they will take old scraps, so scraps from old clothes, and use it to make pillow cushions, which is so smart.
Because typically, if you buy the pillow covers, like just the pretty part around the pillow, you’ll have to buy the cushions separately. Especially if you’re buying online and you know, from a small business, like if it’s an artisan-made pillowcase, they often will just send the like outside part.
But anyway, I just thought that was such a great idea. Because also a lot of pillow cushions are made with synthetic fabric inside. And so it’s just a really eco-friendly alternative, and it’s a place to put that would-be textile waste. So that’s a cool idea.
And yeah, as a last resort option, you can check out local textile recycling facilities. But these are few and far between, depending on where you live, they might not even be available at all. And I know TerraCycle has a textile recycling box, but you have to pay for it, I think over $100. So it’s not really something that’s super accessible.
And some textile recycling collection agencies are just as guilty of dumping waste on countries in the Global South as the sort of donation scheme. So yeah, I think that the same rules apply, or I don’t want to say rules, the same guidelines apply that it’s important to just check where this stuff is actually going. Is it getting recycled locally? Or is it being shipped off, you know, to somewhere and they’re just basically making that textile waste somebody else’s problem.
So just know that just as the fashion industry is full of greenwashing, the textile recycling and clothing donation ecosystem or industry is also full of greenwashing. And yeah, there’s more to the story than Oh, you know, you just send your clothes off, and they magically get reused and repurpose, and it’s super eco friendly. Yeah, it’s just not that simple, because, as we talked about in episode 31, this is a big industry with big players that want sometimes to make big profits. And there are winners and losers in this ecosystem.
So transparency of that textile recycling or charity shop organization is super key. And then sort of next level actions are pushing those organizations to be not only more transparent, but responsible in how they are handling those donations or those textiles that have been sent to them.
But the last thing I will say about where to send all or unwanted clothes, is you can also see if those textiles can be upcycled into new garments. This unfortunately isn’t super common.
But perhaps you can see if there is a fashion design school that could use those textile garments or a designer or conscious brand that uses existing fabric to make their creations or maybe you post about it in your Buy Nothing Facebook group or another like crafty DIY oriented Facebook group to see if anybody has used for those textiles to hopefully upcycle them either into new clothes, or perhaps into something like a pillow cover or a blanket or something like that.
So yeah, slowing down, getting creative, doing some research. I feel like these are just general things to keep in mind when trying to rehome your used clothes or other items. It obviously should be easier right?
Brands should be taking more responsibility for the products they produce. Governments should be investing in infrastructure to make it easier to re-home the garments and to recycle and upcycle things like there’s so much progress that needs to be made on this front.
And this episode is really about trying to make, you know, the most responsible decision possible within what is available, because this is how we sort of slowly push for change. And, you know, if you’re looking for some way to get involved with sustainable fashion, I feel like this is an area that needs a lot of help, you know, how do we manage the end of life of clothes in a responsible, sustainable way?
I would love to explore this deeper in the future in the podcast and sort of discuss bigger systems changes. Because yeah, the reality is that we cannot expect every person to do this with every garment that they ever purchased.
With that said, I think that the connection is just so clear between like, if we are consuming less, it also will make it less stressful to deal with the end of life. And as we consider what actually happens to our clothes, when we’re done with them, I think we start to get a bit more mindful of how much we bring into our lives, bring into our homes, into our closets.
So with that said, the second big question here that actually I’m going to address because I get it so often or variations of this question so often is actually about which brands I recommend.
So I sort of am realizing the irony of putting these two questions together. But I’m just going to emphasize here that I’m not pushing unnecessary consumption. If you want to end this podcast episode right now. Like, go for it.
But yeah, of course, here, I’m going to encourage, like, have a pre-buy sort of question list in your mind or maybe even written out before purchasing anything. That’s something I really encourage. Things like, Do I really need this? Will I get 30 or 100 wears out of it? Especially shoes, I like to only buy shoes that I know I’m going to get like literally hundreds of wears out of.
And you know, also does it go with the rest of my closet? We’re also going to talk about underwear brands here. So sometimes it’s irrelevant, but you know, still you could think about okay, is a color of underwear that is useful for me or whatever.
But yeah, questions like that also, does this align with my values? Is it aligned with my budget? Is it aligned with your style and what you like? You know, is it a fabric that you absolutely hate wearing? Because that happened to me a lot when I was shopping fast fashion, like, this stuff would just be so itchy because it was made of like acrylic, and it was just really blah.
But anyway, just some questions to consider. Your questions might be different. Perhaps I’ll do a whole episode on pre-buy question ideas, we’ll see. But yeah, my ethos around sustainable fashion is that it is not just about the brands that you buy, and if the sustainable brands are not accessible to you, you absolutely can still be part of the slow fashion movement.
You know, sustainable fashion or slow fashion whatever we want to call it, conscious fashion is also about buying less, wearing what we have more, re-wearing, mending and repairing when we can, contributing to the culture shift, shopping secondhand, advocating for industry wide changes.
You know, slow fashion is about so so much more than the brands. And if you would like a sort of recap of what all these terms are: slow fashion, sustainable fashion, and ethical fashion, you can go back to episodes one, two, and three where I break down each of those terms.
But okay, onto question. So essentially, the questions that I get are something along the lines of which sustainable fashion brands do you recommend? Which conscious fashion brands do you suggest, sometimes in XYZ category?
So I definitely understand this because the greenwashing is really, really, really difficult to navigate. I also have an episode of greenwashing, by the way, if you want to go back to that one, I think it’s episode five or six. But it is very, very challenging. And I mean, it’s also evolving, right?
Because we are only using publicly available information, and so we might not have the full story. We’re not visiting the factories ourselves. We’re not in the meeting rooms with the brands. And so we’re really trying to make our best judgment call and it’s probably inevitable that each of us will fall for greenwashing at some point.
Even though I’ve sort of been in this space for I don’t know five or six years like I still sometimes am like, is this greenwashing? Or is this you know… because also things are changing so fast. And we don’t always have all of the facts, right?
We’re lacking really strong research in the fashion industry as well. So it’s not even always clear which material is more eco-friendly. And sometimes based on new research, that changes. And also, it totally changes based on the context and where that material was sourced or where the material was grown. So there’s just a lot of complexities to sustainable fashion.
And here, I’m going to address a few of these specific brand requests that I got. This by no means means that these brands or the retailers are perfect, 100% sustainable, but I do believe they are doing things in a better way, and they are doing the best they can with maybe their limited funds and resources and staff. And they are really pushing for a better future for fashion.
From what I can tell they have their intentions in the right place, and they’re doing the best that they can. So with those sort of caveats out of the way, let’s get into the specific requests.
So one question I got was, where do you find underwear, bras, and socks? You know, don’t feel comfortable getting those secondhand. Which brands do you suggest? And first of all, I would just quickly say that there actually are sometimes things like bras or socks that are even still with tags, or in the case of socks still, or maybe even underwear still in their packaging at secondhand stores.
This isn’t like super common, but just want to throw that out there that it is potentially possible. I’ve never personally purchased these items secondhand. But I have recently been looking at gently used secondhand bras.
So it’s up to you what you feel comfortable with. Maybe you feel comfortable with things that still their tags on are still in a package. Maybe you feel comfortable with secondhand bras, not with secondhand socks, whatever. You know, this is obviously a very personal to you decision that you have to make. But just wanted to throw that out there that there are those options if you really, really want to shop secondhand, but aren’t so sure like, you know, sanitary wise.
But anyway, let’s get on to the brands. So I actually have guides to every one of these things. So underwear, bras and socks. There are all separate guides for those on consciouslifeandstyle.com that will — you guessed it — be linked in the show notes. But I won’t leave it there, I will give you some brands that I personally have used and really love.
So for underwear, I would say about 80% of my underwear is from Knickey, because it is organic, it’s fair trade, it’s really comfortable. And it’s also quite affordable as far as sustainable underwear brands go at about $17 per pair. Now I know that it is not mainstream brand or fast fashion prices.
But I think for organic and ethically made, it is a fair price. I used to have synthetic underwear from a big lingerie company, one that shall not be named and I had these for many, many, many years. And just the quality and comfort when I switched to natural fabrics when I switched to the organic cotton underwear from Knickey has been game changing. Like I won’t get into the personal details, but I’ll just leave it as it has been very beneficial for my health and I’ve noticed a difference.
So if you can afford to do so, I would say like, in my opinion, the most important thing to switch to sort of eco friendly, organic, is underwear. Just because I feel like it can have an impact on your health. Obviously, a disclaimer here, I’m not a health professional, just my personal experience, but yeah, that has been my favorite sort of swap.
So when your underwear is kind of rundown and you’re needing a few new pairs, I definitely recommend that. What’s cool is that Knickey also does have a recycling program for your worn underwear.
Underwear it’s one of those things that is sort of you know, you don’t really want to give to somebody used or you don’t want to like resell it used. So it is something that is really something that makes sense for textile recycling. So they do have a program that you can send back your old underwear as well as bras and socks I believe to be recycled.
For their underwear, It is GOTS certified organic cotton. The farms are certified organic. The ginnery is certified organic, or is a certified organic facility. The spinner is a certified facility and then also the factory where the yarns are knitted into fabric and where the fabric is cut and sewn into underwear is Fairtrade certified. So they have like their whole supply chain mapped on their website, which I really love to see. And they ship plastic free and very minimal packaging, so I’m a fan of that brand.
And they also recently came out with bralettes. And full disclosure, I was gifted a bralette from them, but there wasn’t like an agreement or obligation for me to talk about on here. But yeah, the bralettes are also very comfortable.
And speaking of bras, let’s talk about more suggestions for bras. I personally really hate wired bras, so I can’t really speak to that a lot. But in terms of bralettes, as I said, I do like one from Knickey. And my favorite ones, though, are from Organic Basics, and they are the TENCEL Light bralette ones.
So I would say their organic cotton bras are very similar to Knickey, but the TENCEL Light bralettes are very different. They’re like super silky soft, like if you’ve ever felt TENCEL or TENCEL — I don’t know how to say it. I feel like I hear it both ways. But it’s super silky, and it’s just really, really comfortable. Like, I don’t think I can come back to any other kind of bralette. So next time I need a new bra, I’m definitely going to be getting another one of those.
And finally, for socks, I feel like I’m really not that particular when it comes to socks. But I know that Pact has some good prices on bundles for organic cotton and Fairtrade certified socks.
I have socks from Conscious Step that were gifted to me, and I really love those. I have the crew length one so they’re great for cooler weather. And they’re really, really great quality. You know how, when you buy cheap socks, they often get holes in them quite quickly? That doesn’t really happen with the Conscious Step socks. I mean, I’ve only had them I think two years now, but they’re really substantial.
And they are a bit pricey but I think that although it feels weird to sort of invest in or buy higher quality socks, I would say it’s worth the investment if you can afford to do so like they’ll definitely last you longer than the cheaper alternatives.
And I’ll link my full eco-friendly socks guide and the show notes for you. There are also brands that use recycled materials for their socks, and other organic materials, you know, depending on what is a priority for you.
And then another specific question I got regarding brands is actually not about brands, but retailers. It was asking for recommendations for sustainable fashion platforms that have all nameable brands.
So for this one, I’m not sure about one single platform that has every you know, nameable, or big name conscious fashion brand in one place. But I will share a few of the platforms that I know of.
First, though, I want to give a shout out to secondhand fashion marketplaces. You may know that I’m a big advocate of secondhand first. I try to look secondhand for anything that I need, and then if I can’t find it on a secondhand platform or in a thrift store, I will look to conscious fashion brands and save up if needed for that piece.
And secondhand marketplaces are going to have a wide variety of brands. So conscious brands, especially the bigger names like Girlfriend, Christy Dawn, Patagonia, and Nisolo. And they’ll also have, you know, non sustainable brands or whatever. But you know, it’s still use so you’re still helping to keep that item out of the landfill and reducing the need for new production. Obviously, there’s more context to that as with literally everything in sustainable fashion.
And unfortunately, as big brands are getting into the second hand space, there are issues coming up. But that’s a whole separate episode I feel like and I would love to invite somebody on who knows more about that. But I’ve heard through the grapevine about some sort of shady practices happening with secondhand as big brands get in and what piece of the pie.
But in general, if you’re buying from other individuals or small resale shops, those are usually authentically used garments or sometimes pieces, still tags on them that were maybe past the return period and you know, person, it didn’t fit them and they couldn’t give it back to the brand for credit.
Or it was like truly excess stock that just didn’t get sold and it was on its way to being landfilled. And you know someone maybe purchased a big amount of that clothing and is now reselling it on a site like Poshmark.
So my go to secondhand fashion sources if I really want to search for a specific piece or brand, would be Poshmark for online purchases. There’s also Depop, but I feel like I’m not cool enough for Depop like, I don’t know technically, if I’m a Gen Zer or millennial, I’m sort of at the border.
But I feel like I identify much more with being a millennial like, when I go on Depop I feel like I don’t quite get it and too old for it, I don’t know, it’s kind of like TikTok, I feel a little bit lost. But anyway, there are a bunch of other secondhand platforms, of course.
And just like, basically everything else mentioned, in this episode, I have a guide for that, it’s gonna feel like it’s kind of like when people are like, there’s an app for that. Well, just like there’s an app for everything. There’s also a guide for everything, at least mentioned in this episode.
But anyway, for in person, secondhand stuff, I go to Plato’s Closet. They are a US based chain of secondhand stores and it’s often very gently used stuff. I’m not sure if there’s any sort of like, dark secret about Plato’s Closet, I haven’t researched a ton, I just know that when I go there, I always find good stuff.
And then if I want an investment piece, I go to The RealReal. And there’s also Vestiaire Collective, which is UK based, but they do have a US site and I think that they’re international. But personally, I’ve used The RealReal before. I recently got a pair of 3.1 Phillip Lim ankle boots for like $150. And from my research, they were worth like $600 new. So that was an exciting find, especially because they look very, very gently used.
And then as I mentioned, I’m also a member of Swap Society. So I swapped my pre-loved stuff for other preloved stuff through them. But I don’t really search for brands or anything with them.
It’s more of like, by category, like, you know, I need a warm sweater because it’s negative 10 degrees right now or something. But yeah, there was somebody who asked me about a review of Swap Society. So I’m gonna also do something about that in the future because, yeah, I want to share my experience with Swap Society. So stay on the lookout for that. But I wanted to answer the other question first.
So in terms of new stuff from conscious fashion brands, some platforms to check out for those in the US are Made Trade, ourCommonplace, Consciously, GALERIE.LA, and Fox Holt. And then for Australia, one really expansive marketplace I found is Eco Fashion Labels. And then for anyone based in Europe, there is Know The Origin and The Green Labels. So there are many, many more, of course, but those are the ones that like are coming to mind.
And for anyone based in Africa, there is one called Adjoaa and they curate fashion and lifestyle brands by African and Black diaspora designers. And their team is based across Ghana, Australia and New Zealand. And then for Latin America, there’s one called Macondo. I’m not entirely sure if that is the correct pronunciation, but they have all Latin American designers.
And they do say that they’re connecting these designers to the North American market. So I’m not entirely sure what shipping within Latin America is like, but worth checking out. And then for India, there is a marketplace I recently came across called Ikkivi, I-k-k-i-v-i, and they have sustainable fashion brands from across India, and they do actually ship worldwide.
So those are the ones that I’m familiar with. If you have others, definitely share them with me, I am going to link my sustainable marketplaces guide in the show notes. And I will constantly update that, that will be growing, so you can bookmark that post because I am planning to add to it because there are so so many marketplaces popping up.
And I also want to make sure that I have marketplaces from all over the world in there. Right now, they’re mostly US based because that’s where I’m from and that’s, you know, what I’m familiar with. But I do want to make it more global so that no matter where you are in the world, you can find sustainable fashion brands.
So for those suggestions, or general suggestions for other things mentioned here, or if you just want to share your feedback about this episode, or the podcast, you can find me on Instagram @consciousstyle and you can DM me, or if you prefer email you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I always hesitate to give my email out because I get a crazy amount of junk mail and just tons and tons of pitches often for like really irrelevant things. But yeah, you can find me there and I will do my best to respond as quickly as I can.
And I feel like that is a great place to end the questions here. It took me like a really long time to just answer those two questions, but I will do more Q&A’s in the future. And if you have a question that you would like to hear me address in a podcast episode, or invite a guest on to address, you can send me a DM or an email. And of course, make sure you are subscribed to this podcast so that you don’t miss those future Q&A’s.
If you would like to connect further, I would love to have you as part of the Conscious Edit community. That is my weekly newsletter where I share conscious fashion articles, podcasts, documentaries, videos, brands, campaigns and more every single week, and you can sign up for that at consciouslifeandstyle.com/edit, or like everything else through the link in the show notes.
So thank you all so much for tuning in to this episode. I want to give a special shout out to those of you that have reviewed the podcast or rated on Apple Podcasts. It seriously means so, so much. As I mentioned, there’s a lot of work that goes into producing this show. So it’s just like a dose of encouragement that keeps us going.
That is a wrap for this episode. So thanks again for tuning in. I will catch you here again, same time, same place for another episode of the Conscious Style Podcast.