How to shop online like a pro for high-quality sustainable fashion
Online shopping has a ton of perks - thousands of choices, no crowds, and the ability to shop from the comfort of your bedroom in your PJs. But there's one thing that can become a deal-breaker: not knowing whether you're actually shopping for high-quality clothing. After all, sustainable fashion 101 tells us to buy clothes that last for years. Plus, you don't want to spend thousands of rupees on amazing-looking clothes, only to have them become cleaning rags!
Thankfully, there are ways to make sure you're spending your hard-earned money on high-quality sustainable clothing. Here's how to tell if clothes are of good quality when you're shopping online:
1. Read the fabric description:
When you shop at a brick-and-mortar store, you have the advantage of being able to touch and feel the fabric to figure out if it's of good quality. But when you're shopping online, fabric descriptions are your best friends.
Fabric descriptions will tell you the type of fibre or fibre blends (the fabric content) that have been used to make your clothes. To buy high-quality sustainable clothing, stick to natural fibres like cotton, wool, silk, linen, flax, and hemp instead of synthetics. Synthetic fibres have a high carbon footprint because they are essentially plastic. Plus, washing them leads to microplastic pollution. If you absolutely have to buy synthetics for specific purposes like activewear, try to buy from brands that use recycled synthetic materials.
Some online stores give more detailed fabric descriptions which tell you not just about the type but also the quality of the fabric used. These attributes include the length of the fibre, dyes, type of weave and printing techniques. In this way, fabric descriptions tell you a lot about whether your clothes are of high-quality so you can shop confidently.
Image: Screenshots of the product page for the Baazi Short Top
2. Look for markers of high-quality clothing in product photos:
It's cheesy but true: a picture speaks a thousand words. When you're shopping online, photographs are invaluable. The more there are, the better! Zoom into product photos to look for markers of high-quality sustainable clothing. Does the fabric look durable? As a general rule, thicker fabrics are more durable than thin ones.
Also pay close attention to the stitching, especially at the seams and buttons. High-quality clothing has neat seams that are straight and closely stitched using the same colour of thread (unless the design calls for contrast). Your buttons should also be firmly stitched and buttonholes should be cut cleanly. As an example, here's a close-up of our Neem Linen Shirt:
Finally, look at whether the pattern matches at the seams. For example, does the stripe on a shirt's chest line up with the sleeve? If it does, that's a good sign your clothes have been made with care. Here's a close-up of our Pichkaari Striped Top:
3. High-quality clothing should have rave reviews:
Okay, duh. It's obvious but still worth mentioning. Good reviews tell you a product is of good quality.
Image: Screenshots of the product page for the Tango Palazzo Pants
But what do you do if you love something that hasn't been reviewed?
Here's a pro tip: go to the Instagram or Facebook page of the online store and chat with customers about their shopping experience. If they tell you they're satisfied with the quality of the clothes, you know the purchase is worth it.
4. Buy from sustainable fashion brands:
No, we’re not just trying to advertise Tamarind Chutney clothing! There’s a good reason you should shop sustainable fashion instead of mass-produced fast fashion if you want high-quality clothing.
When you buy fast fashion, you are almost guaranteed poor quality clothing that falls apart in just seven to ten wears. And that’s intentional. Fast fashion and mass-produced clothing brands profit by deliberately using cheap materials and poor quality construction to produce inexpensive clothes that you keep buying and throwing away.
In contrast, sustainable fashion brands exist because they care about reducing waste and producing clothes ethically. That’s why they invest in producing high-quality clothing that lasts long instead of ending up in a landfill.
Sustainable fashion brands use good quality raw materials and dyes and ensure your clothes are well-constructed by properly paid artisans and tailors. Many sustainable fashion brands are transparent about their supply chain, telling you exactly where they get their fabric and who makes your clothes. Knowing this information makes it easier to decide if a brand is producing high-quality clothing.
By buying sustainable fashion, you are being kind to the environment, supporting ethical supply chains, and investing in a high-quality sustainable wardrobe that’ll make you look fabulous for years to come!