Sustainable fashion is a complex issue that is hard to even grasp, but efforts towards conscious shopping should not stop on awareness. It takes action to see the industry change, and every individual step matters. Consumers have various ways of applying pressure on the companies in question. Political engagement: voting, signing petitions, supporting actions that demand a change of the status quo, is one. Another way is altering consumer habits. You vote every time you swipe your card. With each purchase, you support a certain way of living. To reduce your contribution to the wasteful fashion industry, you have three main choices: buy second-hand, swap, or buy from sustainable brands. Besides, remember our sustainability motto. The most sustainable is what you already have – make sure to treat clothes with the respect they deserve.
Millions of tons of clothing are produced each year. Why not buy what has already been produced? Buying second-hand saves water and energy that would be used for producing a new clothing item. Although more time-consuming, a second-hand treasure hunt often leaves us with unique items. Original patterns, high-quality materials, second-hand products are not only sustainable but also one of a kind. You can find our guide to second-hand hunting here.
Rotterdam has many second-hand stores, such as:
- 50 50 store
- Blue Balloon (children clothing)
- Cheap Fashion
- Dear Hunter
- Ding & Dingen
- Lily Scarlet
- Reshare Store
- Ruby Lee and the vintage company
- Sweet Rebel
- Volle Kast
- ZOT Rotterdam
You can also take a look in the kringloopwinkels – the selection there is not as careful as in second-hand boutiques, but the prices are cheaper and you can find many treasures. You may want to check out RataPlan or Piekfijn, they are the biggest kringloopwinkels in Rotterdam.
Remember that second-hand buying can negatively affect both your mind and the planet. Falling into the buying trap because items are cheaper or more sustainable can get you stuck in the loop of consuming mindlessly. Make sure you really need the garment pieces you buy and regularly update your wardrobe.
Would you like to refresh your wardrobe without paying for new items? Then swapping is something for you. Several organizations in Rotterdam organize more-or-less regular swap shops, such as Awearness Kollektif in De Wasserij, Poortgebouw, Erasmus Sustainability Hub at Erasmus University campus, or BlueCity. All you need to do is bring items you do not wish to wear any more and swap them for new-old pearls. A clothing app Vinted also offers an option to swap.
You can also make swapping deals with your friends. I do not think I bought any new clothes since a year ago because I keep on receiving extremely stylish gifts from my friends. Of course, it goes both ways.
Many designers found their fashion companies with the principle of sustainability in mind. Sustainable fashion brands care about the planet and try to control their supply chain to the fullest while also respecting and protecting their workers.
Some brands do not offer ready-to-buy products yet they contribute to the universe of sustainable fashion. For example, Eigen Draads is a company that buys industrial leftovers from Rotterdam harbour and transforms them into ready-to-be-sown textiles. Such activity is crucial to prevent waste and draining resources resulting from textile overproduction.
If you like shopping in a physical form, you should visit these sustainable Rotterdam shops:
Some Rotterdam-based sustainable brands do not have a stationary shop yet:
In case you prefer, or do not mind, online shopping, the list gets longer:
- Isle of Shee
- Jan ‘n June
- Knowledge Cotton Apparel
- Organic Basics
- People Tree
- Picture Organic
- Reet Aus
- Thinking Mu
- Made & More
- Wool and the gang
Sportswear & outdoor activities
A really interesting option for fashion junkies is wardrobe rental. Young companies offer renting outfits from top-notch world’s designers for a certain amount of time. With wardrobe rentals, you can wear a different dress for every party without contributing to any pollution!
Check out these rentals:
You may have noticed that sustainable clothing items are more expensive than regular, fast fashion items. Currently, fast fashion is “subsidized” by society, which allows for a price reduction. The “subsidies” come in the form of environmental degradation as well as humans in inhumane working conditions that bear the costs of a 2 euro T-shirt. We are so used to overly cheap products that we forget that the rightful price of items is higher. More expensive purchases force consumers to re-think every item and take better care of their clothes. In this recipe article, we share tips on how to wash your clothes less without compromising their cleanliness, and how to protect your garments in the wash.
Fashion Revolution – they started the ‘Who made my clothes’ campaign about the workers who make cheap clothing in sweatshops. This campaign started after the Rana Plaza disaster.
and have a new one called ‘What is in my clothes’ where they want to raise awareness about the materials and toxic chemicals that are used in your clothing
From Craft Council Nederland where a group of designers, engineers and scientists are re-discovering the sustainable ways of growing linen in The Netherlands. I think this is soft activism and they are always looking for new innovators and volunteers to strengthen their project.
A new initiative and podcast series by Venetia La Manna about garment workers and supporting their rights. The initiative is creating a campaign to energise a new solidarity economy in fashion.
When shops closed in the first lockdown in March, many fashion companies cancelled their orders from Asian countries without paying the garment workers. This situation is an illustration of the immense power that corporations have over vulnerable nations. #PayUp is a social media campaign created to force the corporations to pay their workers.
Look out for more in our Label Lurking article, where we focus on petitions against animal-based fabrics.