If you’ve gone shopping recently, you might have heard the phrase “sustainable fashion.” A lot of people tend to think clothes are just clothes — you go to the mall or order online and you wear out your pieces until you grow tired of them (or forget about them in your closet). But for people like Priscilla Debar, owner and founder of FAUBOURG, a luxury sustainable fashion online retailer, fashion is as much about us as the environment, local communities and the global economy.
Sustainable fashion, put simply, are clothes, shoes and accessories that have been created using the most sustainable methods possible. This means trying to limit negative environmental effects of the product’s life cycle, which can include using natural resources efficiently, utilizing renewable energy at every stage and maximizing reuse and repair of the product, according to Green Strategy. On FAUBOURG, this is categorized as garments that are handmade, organic, locally-made, made with recycled materials, are social/fair trade and/or eco-friendly.
When clothing is priced for so little, this often means that that the clothing manufacturer is cutting corners, especially in terms of paying its employees. Hearing stories, like the Bangladesh factory collapse in 2013, helped Priscilla realize the importance of sustainable fashion.
“The choice (people) make for something as mundane as what they wear today is affecting somebody, somewhere on the planet,” Priscilla says. “And it’s definitely affecting all of us to the effect that it affects the environment, and so we have a collective responsibility to be mindful in how we spend our money.”
Priscilla started FAUBOURG in 2017 after her own research into trendy, sustainable fashion turned fruitless. She and her team has an extensive process for choosing brands to sell on FAUBOURG, which includes examining the collection’s design and asking about the manufacturing process. “We definitely don't want to work with brands that are only focused on their bottom line and don’t care about the effect they can have on the environment,” she says.
FAUBOURG is meant to excite people who have a strong sense of personal style to become more conscious of what they wear, Priscilla says. After all, a common misconception about sustainable fashion is that the clothes are very basic or only fit one type of style, which is commonly seen as a bohemian aesthetic. But this isn’t true, she says, as there are many sustainable fashion options that can “look sharp and professional.”
Consumers are also often deterred by cost — making sustainable fashion affordable is FAUBOURG’s biggest challenge, Priscilla says. But it helps to look at it at cost-per-wear; if you buy something from a fast fashion retailer but only wear it a few times, the cost-per-wear is much higher than if you buy a well-made, sustainable blazer that becomes a staple in your closet.
That being said, there’s no shaming in having to consider cost over sustainability first. “If you have to walk into a fast fashion store and buy something that is cheap, I mean it’s completely understandable and we've all done that,” she says.
But there is one simple, free way to beginning a sustainable fashion mindset, and that’s just to be an informed consumer, Priscilla says. Next time you walk into a store, just take a peek at the tag inside any piece of clothing and do some research — you might be surprised at what you find.