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Sustainable fashion: how to shop with a conscience without compromising on style

Here is everything you need to know

sustainable fashion
Orin Carlin
Orin CarlinContent Writer
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Whether you're a fully-fledged environmental warrior or you've only recently made the transition towards shopping more sustainably, plenty of us are thinking more carefully about the impact that we have on our planet.

READ: Vintage designer clothing: 5 items that never go out of style

Sustainable fashion needn't be as complicated as it sounds, don't worry – no one's expecting you to weave your own fabric and knock up an outfit on the sewing machine over the course of an afternoon.

What does sustainable fashion mean? 

Sustainable fashion is an all-encompassing term used to describe clothes that are created and consumed in a way that is ecologically and socially responsible. It is key to consider the entire life cycle of an item of clothing – from fabric construction, to manufacturing processes, all the way to what happens when you decide it no longer holds a place in your wardrobe.

Hello! Fashion shares our top tips on curating a more sustainable wardrobe: 

1. Upcycling

Even celebrities are getting in on the action – in recent years we have seen many famous faces making a concerted effort to promote sustainable style by wearing eco-friendly looks. Just over two weeks ago, Billie Eilish showed up to fashion's biggest night of the year, the annual Met Gala, wearing a completely upcycled custom Gucci gown.

Billie Eilish 2022 Met Gala© Photo: Getty Images

Billie looks incredible in an upcycled custom Gucci gown

Creative director Alessandro Michele had created a stunning look for the bad guy singer, featuring a mint-coloured boned corset and voluminous bustle – very in keeping with the ball's theme of 'Gilded Glamour'.

But what exactly does upcycling mean? The term essentially refers to processes that breathe new life into something seemingly useless or unwanted. Transforming a bed sheet into a gown worthy of the runway might be a tad farfetched, but reworking a pair of tired jeans into a classic pair of frayed shorts is totally doable - embrace YouTube as your most solid ally.

MORE: Best charity shops in London for designer buys

2. Seek out sustainable designers

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney has been committed to sustainable practices since it launched back in 2001, and the British designer has never used feathers, fur, leather or skin in her collections. Plus in recent years they've stopped using angora and virgin cashmere, having replaced these with other suitable fabrics. Also who could forget when the brand created the first handbag made from Bold Thread's Mylo™ mushroom leather. Now that's what we call thinking outside the box.

Harris Reed

The British-American designer Harris Reed has caught the attention of none other than Harry Styles with his creations. Speaking about a new initiative that he has set up with Klarna encouraging young designers to create ethically-focused looks, he said: "My vision is that inclusivity and sustainability will become central to the future of fashion." Past collections have upcycled deadstock and we're excited to see what's next for the label.


We absolutely love what designer Priya Ahluwalia is doing at the moment, breathing new life into existing vintage and surplus garments, transforming them into thoughtfully-placed colourful patches. The label is inspired by the designer's Indian-Nigerian heritage and it has even partnered recently with cult-brand Ganni to release a joint line.

 RELATED: 7 sustainable lingerie brands that you need to know about

3. Buy vintage and second hand 

The UK Sustainable Fashion report revealed that 66% of all British consumers have either bought or are interested in buying second-hand fashion items in the last year, with 69% having sold or being interested in selling unwanted fashion items. Clearly consumer habits are changing – great news for planet Earth!

Shopping second hand is a brilliant way to lower your carbon footprint and track down that one piece that is completely unique. There are plenty of great UK charity shops to get you started, but if you're planning to shop from home, we absolutely love Depop, Vestiaire Collective and Etsy – which are also great places to scope out vintage items.

4. Consider renting

Okay, so you're not technically shopping with this one, but you are spending some money, albeit far less than you would if you were buying a piece outright. Designer rental apps are all the rage at the moment, perfect for those special occasions to save you splurging one special piece. Some of our favourites include Hurr, ByRotation and Cocoon.

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