Experts Say Building A Sustainable Wardrobe Starts With The Right Investment Pieces

With the fate of retail weighing heavily on the shopping behaviors of Millennials, the word sustainability gets tossed around quite a bit. As consumers become more conscious of the way their spending habits affect our environmental surroundings, sustainable purchasing practices are a priority — and many retailers are shifting their business models accordingly. Millennials, for example, are willing to pay more for products from brands that channel the industry's ecological challenges into opportunity for innovation and positive impact. But it’s not only about the materials we're buying (thank you to brands like Everlane and Reformation for making that easier), but their potential for longevity.
Of course, we all fall victim to the fleeting delight of fast fashion's affordable trend pieces. We forego luxury staples to avoid heftier price tags, opting for cheaper iterations instead. "Fast fashion is fun, but only for a short moment," says Tamara Mellon, seasoned veteran in the luxury footwear space and founder of her namesake shoe company. "Those pieces likely aren’t something that you keep in your closet longterm. And, you can only wear them a few times before they start to look tired since many are poorly made." These purchases often end up spending more time in a landfill than they do in our closets, which is why being mindful of what you buy is the foundation to living sustainably.
"It is a considered approach to building a well-curated wardrobe that speaks to you and the things you love," says Lisa Aiken, Fashion Director at Moda Operandi. "When you buy fewer things that you love and appreciate, those pieces become the building blocks of your wardrobe." And while investing in luxury items can be intimidating, Aiken says that shouldn't stop you from considering a new way to shop. "I think people have a fear that items will go out of style," Aiken suggests. "You need to feel confident about the investment... Trends can come and go, but the ones that have been around for decades come back around." She cites her black-and-white leopard Marc Jacobs dress as the perfect example of something that's survived countless seasons and fashion cycles and remains an always-reliable, go-to eveningwear option.
According to Mellon, this kind of sartorial durability comes from letting emotion dictate action. It's not about investing in basics, she says, but in something you're genuinely excited about. "While you might be afraid to not always get it right, this is part of growing and understanding your personal style. Buying new clothes doesn’t always have to be trend-driven, especially if you feel like it will be a passing fad." Her mission is to make luxury more inclusive and accessible so that customers can convert that excitement into a purchase without imposing a massive strain on their bank accounts. "That’s why we’re direct-to-consumer," Mellon explains. "It eliminates the 6x retail markup." Plus, many retailers offer benefits such as financing plans so you can pay for costly items over time, and even complimentary services like Tamara Mellon's Cobbler Concierge to prolong the lifespan of your goods.
For more advice from these industry experts on navigating the world of luxury e-commerce, click through their tips and product recommendations ahead.
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