Illicit Rag Vintage (@illicitragvintage) is an eclectic thrift shop in East Baltimore that is among many in the city that promote sustainable fashion. (Courtesy photo)

By Tonaé Lee
Special to the AFRO

“Sustainability is key” is a motto we love to live by! Whether it’s sustainable decor, beauty products and of course fashion, the rise of eco-friendly shopping and living are taking over. “Slow fashion” is now replacing the likes of “fast fashion.” 

What is sustainable fashion? Sustainable fashion refers to clothing that is designed, manufactured, distributed and used in ways that are environmentally friendly. Sustainability can be shown in many forms, but our favorite is upcycling. Upcycling is the process of creating something new from something old. To learn more in-depth about the different avenues of sustainable fashion, check out Style Fanatic Stylings’ Mini Thrifting Guide, available on the Style Fanatic Stylings website for free download.

Cahoots Brothers is among many in the city that promote sustainable fashion. (Courtesy Photo)

Many may not know, but according to the UN Environment Programme 10% of global carbon emissions are produced by the fashion industry. The International Union for Conservation of Nature also reports that 35% of all microplastics in our oceans are produced by washing synthetic clothing in our laundry.

How insane is that? We complain about littering and not recycling properly, but some of the biggest pollutants are pieces of our own wardrobe

According to an analysis by Business Research Company, only about 1% clothing is recycled into something new, contributing to the tons of greenhouse gases being emitted. 

With people becoming more aware of drastic climate and social change, there has been a surge in people seeking more sustainable ways of operating. There has been a huge increase from 2016 to 2019 with online keyword searches related to sustainable fashion and decor, according to researchers. Studies also show that the global ethical fashion market size has reached about $6.35 billion in value in 2019, a growth of about 8% since 2015. “The market is expected to grow from $6.35 billion in 2019 to $8.25 billion in 2023,” according to the report. The industry will definitely be seeing green! All puns intended.

With a “hustle and bustle” that mimicks those of bigger metropolitan cities, Baltimore is primed for growth and business opportunities right now. With a heap of talent coming from the fashion hubs and the textile scene, the city is taking pride in offering locally sourced and made, eco-friendly products. Businesses like the Made in Baltimore Program (@madeinbaltimoreprogram) are offering spaces where local artists can display and sell their hand-crafted work and upcycled or vintage pieces. Brands, like Tightfisted Fashion (@tightfistedfashion), hold events such as pop-up shops, flea markets and clothing swaps to aid in the goal of promoting sustainable fashion in the city. Al Rogers Jr, an influential fashion stylist out of Baltimore, also uses his platform to promote and educate sustainable style by holding local clothing donation drop offs, fashion swaps and when styling on-set, trying to use only upcycled and gently worn pieces. You can find him at @swoozyduder. Other local favorites are Illicit Rag Vintage (@illicitragvintage) an eclectic thrift shop in east Baltimore, Different Regards (@differentregard), located in Mt. Vernon, and the newly opened The Cahoots Brothers (@thecahootsbrothers) specializing in men’s vintage  located in the Remington area.

As you can see, the city is making efforts to boost sustainability in the fashion world, one small business at a time. Although many big businesses have a way to go in their eco-journey, these Baltimore brands are making everyday strides to promote and educate the importance of sustainable style and fashion. 

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