Nowadays, we live in a high-paced and dynamic society where we’re constantly rushing from one place to another. The abundant clothing choices and low prices have made it easier for us to purchase garments on the go while often electing quantity over quality.
Shopping has become a hobby to some or a weekly outing to others. Over the years, consumer demands have increased and evolved from necessity to perpetual fluctuating and much sought after trends. However, very few know the true cost of producing one single garment that, in most cases, based on personal experience, will soon be discarded in the back of the wardrobe and never again see the light of day.
The cost of clothes
Here’s the thing; it takes about 2700 liters of water to produce one plain cotton shirt that will last a month or two.
Pesticides used on cotton and paired with other harmful environmental pollutants are the main reason that the fashion industry is the second highest polluting business in the world. Scary right! Not to mention the awful and dangerous conditions in which most of the fast fashion workers, work in, day in and day out.
Eco-fashion ideology—environmentally friendly fashion is a sustainable approach that bases its principles on reusing material previously deemed as waste; someone’s old jacket becomes someone’s new garment and so forth; reducing the need to produce more clothes on the market and thus minimizing the harmful environmental impact from excessive production.
Iceland and its environment
Once upon a time, Iceland wasn’t big on the map, figuratively speaking. However, with otherworldly natural backdrops, friendly locals and being just a stone’s throw away from major international hubs, this country has quickly become the go-to holiday destination for thousands of adventurers worldwide wanting to get a glimpse of its natural wonders and unique cultural vibe.
Living on an island like Iceland, surrounded by immeasurable untouched nature, unswervingly reminds locals and visitors alike on a daily basis just how vulnerable we are towards mother nature and how our daily doings have a direct impact on our environment and consequently our future. The bond between humans and nature and respect for nature is fundamental to those who wander its lands, as the frail reality of our mutual existence can’t be seen any clearer than here; footprints in the delicate moss are here to stay.
Iceland is quirky and artistic with its own peculiar character. Anyone who has visited Iceland can vouch for the fact that it is the most laid-back and relaxed country when it comes to many aspects of its temperament and lifestyle—it’s the epitome of feeling comfortable in your own skin and celebrating your individuality and uniqueness. This is what makes it a haven for many creative souls as there are no guidelines or expectations; there are no trends or pressure of fitting in and abiding by society’s imposed norms. They simply don’t exist. Individualism and uniqueness are much cherished in many aspects of life, including fashion.
Sustainable fashion in Iceland
In all honesty, I pictured Iceland as a “ski resort” type of country only to discover that the only person who was dressed like that was none other than me! Believe it or not, one of Iceland’s best-kept secrets is the country’s astounding sense of style and unique mix-matching of old and new apparel that creates a distinctive vintage and most sought-after look.
Over the years, numerous different sustainable fashion outlets have slowly made their way into the Icelandic fashion world and well, judging by their popularity, they’re definitely here to stay!
Three types of eco-friendly stores can be found while strolling around Reykjavik’s downtown area notably around Laugavegur and its colorful little maze-type side streets:
- Charity shops: In Iceland, charity shops are managed by the Icelandic Red Cross. They are run by volunteers and all items being sold are donated from the public for charitable causes. Icelandic charity shops are often much cheaper than thrift shops and boast a wide assortment of clothing, apparel, and books.
- Secondhand shops: In a country as expensive as Iceland, secondhand shops are the Holy Grail of good bargains and unique finds. These shops are called vintage shops and for a good reason. Most of the items including jewelry, handbags, and accessories have a distinctive so-called “old-school” look. However, in all vintage shops, you can easily find clothing essentials such as Icelandic sweaters or lopapeysa, an endless supply of checked shirts and converse shoes. Spútnik and Gyllti kötturinn are two of the most popular and well-stocked ones in central Reykjavik.
A word of warning: Although labeled as “used items" Icelandic secondhand shops have a much higher price tag than European or American thrift shops since, as previously stated, vintage is considered unique and unique is something that is much sought after.
· Designer sustainable fashion: Here is where environmental thinking and creativity come hand in hand to produce a different innovative variety of sustainable fashion. Like thrift shops, designer eco fashion stores are based on recycled already existing materials and reproducing unique, one-off garments while using eco-friendly, zero-waste products. One of Iceland’s home-based designer sustainable outlets, USEE STUDIO, for example, takes discarded and unwanted still usable fabrics and materials from clothing factories all around the world and creates unique extraordinary and one of a kind garments.
At first glance these three types of eco-fashion stores are quite different in concept, however, they all have an ultimate goal of reusing already existing clothes to create a unique and individual style for a sometimes cheaper price while being environmentally conscious about it all—now that’s what I’d call a master plan!