Sustainability has always been at the forefront of what we do because it’s about smart and conscious decisions we make as brands and consumers about our impact on the environment. Being sustainable starts with caring –– caring about what we leave behind on this planet, the people and animals who are inadvertently suffering from the aftereffects of mass consumption and fast fashion, and especially caring about the choices we make to limit or even reverse these actions. To begin caring about the products we consume on a day-to-day basis, we have to first care about the instructions they come with –– as in, the often overlooked care label. We had written about this before, but we’re revisiting it to go a little deeper on the impact on the environment and the people in fashion’s supply chain.
Care labels are sewn into the garments for a reason. They are sewn in such a way that it does not get separated from the clothes.
Here are 4 reasons why you should read your care label:
You Care About Your Belongings
One of few times we look at the care labels on clothes is right before we wash them, to make sure we don’t end up ruining them. Ideally, you should actually read them before you buy the garment so that you know beforehand how to care for them. Based on what fabric it’s made from, different garments need to be taken care of specially. The symbols on care labels are specific to the kind of fabric, the way it has been sewn and cut, and the way it has been treated if it is of a certain material such as some wools and leathers. By reading the instructions, we can ensure our garments have a long life, without us needing to buy more and more.
You Care About Quality
To be able to wash the garment correctly, it is essential to know more about the fabric it is made from and its properties. On one hand, the care label is there to provide you with the fabric composition, so you know that the 3% elastane in your favourite skinny jeans is what is allowing the stretch (but also how you need to make sure it doesn’t lose its elasticity). On the other hand, you are also informed of the quality of the fabric and can make a judgement call on whether it is worth spending a lot of money on something that is 100% polyester – that is essentially plastic. Even if the tag says 100% cotton, it can still be low quality if the brand’s manufacturers try to cut corners and use low-grade fibres, resulting in low quality garments. Lesson is, always do your research.
You Care to Know What it’s Really Made of
Finding out about the fabric composition can also provide you an insight into the ethics of the brand you bought from. Whether it’s natural or synthetic, it is important to learn about their origins and the intricacies of how they have been made. With sustainable materials on the rise, when we see brands we love make the switch from cotton and polyester to organic cotton, tencel, bamboo or recycled polyester fibres, we are more certain of their commitment to the environment, their consumers, as well as the people behind the making of the garments. Farming organic cotton eliminates the inadvertent consumption of pesticides and other harmful chemicals by farmers, and consumers.
You Care About Transparency
The care label, along with the brand label, will determine the brand’s transparency. Where it’s been made, where they get their materials from, by whom it’s been made by – questions all being raised meant to be answered by the care labels. The conversation about #WhoMadeMyClothes started with the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, but doesn’t end there. The ‘Made in Italy’ label is as guilty as the notorious ‘Made in China’ and ‘Made in Bangladesh’ labels, where labourers without proper paperwork, salaries and working conditions are facts of reality of fast fashion giants. As a rule of thumb, the more the brand discloses about their supply chain, the more reassured you can be about investing into the right pieces.
In actuality, it is easier to be ignorant and oblivious to malpractice in the supply chain, and the compromises a consumer unwittingly makes when they buy into fast fashion. However, being a conscious consumer is about being informed of the facts of the industry, but also about the eagerness to know more, and basing their decisions off of this knowledge. Reading a care label before your purchase may make you spend 30 extra seconds, but will save you time and effort if you know beforehand that you won’t be able to make the commitment to your clothes. If we cherish our clothes, as if they were living pieces, we could keep them around for longer – that is what it means to care.
Read the article that started this discussion. We’d love to know what you think, let us know down below.