The Bright Side of Sustainable Fashion

Jul 14, 2020 | Ethical Production, Sustainable Fashion

An avid thrifter and sustainable fashion shopper, Niki Camacho strives to share her triumphs and struggles while navigating the world of eco-fashion. She hopes to inspire giving new life to the treasures you already have in your own closet through restyling, repairing. We got to know a little more about Niki, her thoughts on the barriers to sustainable and ethical choices, and how she is working to change that.

“I’d love to help women get the most from the wardrobe they already have,” Niki says from her home in Pasadena, California. “I believe there are a few things that stop people from “walking the walk”. First, it’s income/socioeconomic level. It’s hard for a struggling mother to focus on purchasing sustainable products when she is living paycheck to paycheck and trying to care for her family.”

She’s right. At a time when so many people are struggling to make ends meet, sustainable fashion or choosing more eco-friendly, conscious items may feel significantly out of reach for millions of curious consumers. We were drawn to Niki’s refreshingly human approach to the world of ethical fashion. Niki notes that there’s a major disconnect between what is discussed and what is actually applicable to many consumers. “[There is a] lack of discussion around the issues that prevent people from living more sustainably.

Socioeconomic factors play a big role in why some people and communities aren’t able to make sustainable life changes.”

“I want to share my journey to a more sustainable closet and lifestyle, including my mistakes and struggles!”

Niki is acutely aware of how challenging this can be for people struggling to make ends meet. “The example that comes to mind is a food desert,” she says. “There are communities that exist in areas where fresh and healthy produce is not readily available and affordable. If these communities can barely access or afford healthy food, how can we layer on the responsibility of living sustainably?”

Even with the barriers, consumers are still largely curious in ethical fashion. In a 2018 Fashion Revolution survey, only 39% of respondents said that purchasing clothes made in ethical factories by workers paid a living wage was important to them. Interestingly, 84% of respondents believed that it is important that fashion brands tackle global poverty. Consumers are looking for information on these topics, but where to begin? Niki notes that branching into the world of sustainable and ethical fashion can be daunting for reasons outside of income, one of them being the pressure to keep up with trends. “As a style lover, I struggle with not being able to try new trends. It’s way too easy to ignore the damage fast fashion has on people and the planet when you live in a very privileged country like the United States.”

Beyond that, greenwashing, a term used for when brands over-inflate or lie about their ecological impacts for marketing purposes, can be misleading in regards to consumer introductions into the space. “Which brands can you trust? Is this product really just greenwashing? Life can be pretty stressful before you throw sustainability into the mix!”

Niki has clear expectations for brands, though. “In 5 years’ time, I’d love to see brands adhere to clear and legally enforceable guidelines around items labeled: sustainable, eco-friendly, ethical, and natural. In 10 years, I’d love to see more brands finding solutions for the waste their products create.”

Her understanding and welcoming nature counter the common attitudes that inhibit people from entering the sustainability space, something that can often seem few and far between for a newcomer. She aims to accept and encourage and show fellow sustainable shoppers that this is a lifestyle for everyone, not just a certain class. “For too long sustainability has felt like an exclusive club for the privileged and elite. My hope is to create an inclusive and supportive community that values progress over perfection.”

Would you like to connect with others like Niki on the same mission and discover all things ethical and sustainable? Be the first to access our invite-only beta.