Remember when, a long time ago, the words “organic” and “GMO” were big downers, and instead of being cool and eco, organic food lovers were seen as hippie weirdos? Whole Foods wasn’t always filled with sexy, yoga-pants-wearing kale eaters. At some point in our recent past, granola and kombucha were super strange, and the people who consumed them were even weirder.
Now think of a bright and sunny display of organic fruits and vegetables, a wall full of coconut waters, and a packed grocery store filled with reusable bags and glass water bottles. Welcome to now! This is what the people want! According to the Organic Trade Association, organic food sales have increased from $3.6 billion to over $39 billion in the last ten years. (That’s a lot of kale, people). What changed was simple economics: consumer demand drove the trend and now all of a sudden it’s really cool to be that kombucha-loving weirdo.
But for anyone who has tried to approach their friends to talk about ethical fashion (as we have!) thinking surely this will be the next organic food, here’s an interesting fact: people don’t like the truth.
Shocking, we know, but a number of recent studies including one by the Harvard Business Review concludes that not only are people uninspired by conscious fashion, they are downright annoyed by people who do care. Finding them to be weird, unfashionable and boring.
Sharing the truth behind the true cost of our fashion is important.
But it’s as important to practice how to talk about it. So speaking of talk dirty to me, here are 3 tips to rocking sustainable talk inspired by 50 Shades star du jour Dakota Johnson:
1. Be positive!
The biggest thing we’ve learned about talking to friends and family about ethical fashion is, no one likes a sad story. It’s tough to hear depressing things about the person who made your clothes. And people generally don’t like to talk about depressing things. Instead of sharing sweatshop horror stories, reach for the positive. People didn’t really go on and on about how bad non-organic food was. Instead they talked about how great organic was, and how much better that organic kale made them feel. Simple shifts in your approach can have a big impact. We feel inspired to talk about brands (big and small) who are making great products and honor makers. Purchasing this type of fashion makes us feel good! So keep the focus on what’s good out there, and instead of shaming, lead by example.
2. Offer advice!
Instead of listing off statistics or worse, (and we’re all guilty of it) shaming your friends for their ethically questionable choices, become a resource to guide people towards better decisions. Position your shift from fast fashion to eco chic as a positive change and people will approach you about it. If you’re knowledgeable about what brands to buy and where to go for ethical fashion, people will find you. As the adage goes, let the bee come to the honey.
3. Glam it up!
In the same way that the perception of organic food used to be “earthy” and thus fundamentally not chic, sustainably-made clothing and accessories have the perception of hemp, tie-dye, and mismatched buttons. The best way to make sustainable clothing cool is to be cool, and rock it. Whether it’s a killer piece of jewelry from Soko, an amazing spring dress from Raven + Lily, or anything else we’ve profiled, invest in a great piece and people will notice. And then they’ll ask you—where is that from?
With enough critical mass we can move the dial on this whole “eco” stereotype and make handmade jewelry from Kenya the NEW kale! Can you imagine? The bottom line is action—don’t be afraid to speak up and tell the people in your life how great sustainable fashion is. And above all, walk the walk in those fair trade stilettos.