From shine to stretch, partywear is plastic fantastic. Synthetic fabrics are derived from fossil fuels and they certainly don't compost or biodegrade into useful soil additions. Instead they poison the earth, harm marine life and turn our oceans into a plastic soup for generations to come.
Clothing factories release high levels of harmful chemicals into bodies of water and microplastics from synthetic clothes leach into the ocean. Poor quality, secondhand clothes are often exported back to developing countries which are used as textile dumping grounds.
According to Changing Markets, 69% of our everyday fashion is made from synthetic fibres like elastane, nylon, polyester and acrylic. Of the approximately 100 billion items of clothing produced every year nearly 70 billion are made of plastic! And that percentage is likely to be even higher in partywear where plastic sequins, sparkles and shimmers are in high demand. It seems that unconscious consumers are lured by the luxurious 'plasticky' textures that come with a cheap price tag to match.
Clothing made with synthetic fabrics also tends to wear out more quickly than natural fibre alternatives so it is most likely to be rapidly used and then discarded.
When it is thrown away, synthetic fast fashion pollutes air, soils, waters, the oceans, and our bodies. Synthetic clothing is commonly sent to landfills, where it sheds tiny plastic particles called microplastics and toxic additives, like PFAS. In some countries, discarded synthetic clothing is incinerated, releasing toxic emissions and greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
How to make more sustainable choices for festive outfits
Researchers reckon we only wear about 30% of our wardrobe, so there is bound to be treasures in there if you dig deep enough. Styling inspiration is all around us, from vintage-loving models to secondhand fashion influencers.
- Items which may be inappropriate alone, such as a super short dress, can be paired with leggings and an oversized shirt to create a stylish mature look.
- Bold accessories can bring an old favourite back into vogue - try op shopping to find that special belt or necklace to upstyle your look. Clever styling can make the same garment suitable for a variety of occasions.
- Upcyling can be an awesome way to turn one piece of clothing into another. Use scraps of fabric to lengthen sleeves and create a feature at the same time.
- Visible mending is a popular trend, with many people inspired by the Japanese art of Sashiko which involves using visible embroidery stitches to repair damaged clothes. With visible mending, you don't just extend the usefulness of a piece but also give it a custom look. A simple fabric patch can be enhanced with visible stitches to create a unique feature.
- Op shops and vintage stores are packed with secondhand treasures if all of the above ideas have failed to produce the party outfit you need.
- Clothing rental is one of the easiest ways to find glamorous new things to wear for a very special occasion.
- Clothes swaps are popping up all over Perth, giving you the opportunity to bring something you no longer wear and swap it with something else.
- Metallic make up looks are all the rage and can bring seasonal sparkle to your look in a different way. Stick to low tox, ethical and vegan make up brands wherever you can.
- If buying new clothes, always opt for natural fibres that are not harmful to the earth when they break down like linen, cotton and wool.
To empower your festive fashion choices, its important to shrug off one of the most destructive myths in the fashion industry, that you can't wear the same thing twice! The chances are nobody will even notice, and if they do its a wonderful ice breaker to start a conversation about dressing more consciously.