The Highsnobiety Better Earth Manual is a guide for style enthusiasts in the age of ecological crisis — a crisis caused in part by the fashion itself. Here, you’ll find a growing set of resources about conscious consumption and the pioneers who are making change in our industry.
Conversations on caring about style and caring about the planet often feel like they’re happening in two separate realms. On the one hand, you’re knee-deep in consumerism, devouring content and products created and discussed by companies (like ours) on the daily; places that talk about what’s new, what’s hot, and what’s not, and you feel like you have to buy in order to keep up. On the other hand, you’re confronted with news about the climate crisis and the role the fashion industry plays in it. You feel like you have to pick a side.
But perhaps you don’t. Believe it or not, there is a way to care about fashion and your style while actively reducing the impact of your shopping habits. It’s much easier than you might think. It doesn’t involve holding on to clothes out of guilt, or throwing out your impulse buys in exchange for “sustainable” alternatives. It just involves one word, and that word is care.
The kind of care we mean comes in several forms, but it mostly involves learning how to care for what you already have. Specifically, how to keep a piece in great condition so you can love it forever, whether that be tailoring ill-fitting clothes or learning how to wash garments correctly.
With this guide, we’ve made it easy to hold on to your clothes for longer. Enjoy.
When you’re buying new clothing (whether it be new-new or secondhand) the saying “quality over quantity” will always apply. If you do feel the urge to add to your closet, try to invest in higher-quality pieces, ones that are made to stand the test of time and will survive more washes and wear.
Please note that higher prices do not always guarantee high quality. Check for quality stitching and check the label for materials – natural fabrics such as organic cotton and linen are better than synthetic fabrics. When shopping for thrifted items, it’s easier to tell whether a piece is of higher quality because it has already lived through one lifecycles (of course, it also depends on how often the previous owner wore it).
Ultimately: Don’t love it? Don’t buy it. Make sure that every item you buy serves you in the long run. Don’t throw away money on trends, rather invest in wardrobe staples that compliment you and your personal style.
A lot of clothing damage happens through washing. Here’s how to do it right:
- Pay close attention to care labels. Your garments basically already carry an instruction manual, so make sure you check the label to see what temperature to wash, whether to hand wash, and if ironing is allowed.
- Invest in a delicates bag.
- Always wash the same colors together.
- Wash less often. Washing garments too often or with too much detergent can actually cause damage to the fibers and hence decrease the lifespan, so think carefully before you toss your garments in the washer. Yes, items such as T-shirts, underwear, and gym wear should be washed after every wear because they are in closer contact with your skin and absorb sweat. But there’s no need to wash that jumper or those jeans after you went to the store one time.
- Speaking of jeans. There have been many popular myths floating around about washing jeans. Technically you can opt not to wash your jeans as it will give them a more… interesting look. But machine washing them occasionally won’t hurt them either. And there’s one way to make sure they don’t fade too much during washing…
- Wash inside out. It’s an easy way to keep those hues from fading.
- Air-dry. After washing try to avoid the dryer and opt to air dry your clothes as it’s a lot more gentle on the fibers.
- Iron with water. Be cautious against dry ironing. It is better to iron clothes when still humid. If necessary, you can also spray pieces with water while ironing.
Believe it or not, how you store your clothes matters a lot. It is best to store them in a clean, dry, cool environment that has no contact with direct sunlight. Also try to not overfill your wardrobe, as clothes need breathing space. If you opt to hang some of your clothes, it’s worth investing in wooden or padded hangers to further protect garments from becoming misshapen. That being said, some items like heavy sweaters should be folded rather than hung, as this will stretch out the fabric.
Also, remember to put a moth repellant in your wardrobe — dried herbs, such as rosemary, lavender, or thyme should do the trick, or get something from the store.
Many of us don’t go the extra mile to keep clothes in our closets when they’re damaged, worn, or don’t fit anymore. Many times clothes have a lot more life in them if you just help them out a little:
- Get it repaired. Learn basic mending or go to a tailor when something needs fixing.
- Use a dye bath to combat fading. Most garments fade over time and lose their color (especially if you’re a serial washer). Rejuvenate their color by buying a clothing dye, adding it to a bucket with the directed amount of water, and voilà, your clothes will look as good as new! Note that this method only works on solid-colored garments, and always remember to wash with like colors the first few times so the dye doesn’t run.
- Make alterations. You can easily turn those leggings into biker shorts or tie-dye that shirt. Before you get rid of a good piece, think about what you don’t like about it and whether it can be fixed. It can make for a fun DIY project or you can see a tailor – it’s cheaper than buying new clothes all the time.
- Jewelry. When buying jewelry, always ask for the salesperson’s advice on how to take care of it. And ditch the do-it-yourself mentality for those chains and grillz, it’s always best to have a professional fix your jewelry woes.
- Bags. Once again: ask your salesperson! Leathers and synthetic fabrics have very different care instructions so make sure you ask what not to do and how to get rid of scuffs, creases, etc. With bags, at the end of the day, it’s all about the storage. Keep handbags stuffed to help retain their shape and resist piling or stacking them.
- Sneakers. Clean. Your. Sneakers. Please. We can’t stress this enough. We’re so committed to this, that we even made an easy step-by-step guide for cleaning your kicks, which you can (and should) check out here. And if you’re a true sneakerhead, make sure you invest in some care products for your arsenal. If you’re too bougie to get down and dirty, look into sneaker cleaning services in your area – yes, that’s a thing.