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How Eco-Friendly Fashion is Changing the Game
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How Eco-Friendly Fashion is Changing the Game

Luckily, the fashion industry is changing, and we can reduce our overall impact on the planet by choosing eco-friendly fashion.

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5 min read

June 01, 2022

Disclaimer: California.com is not receiving any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products and businesses mentioned in this article.

What comes to mind when you think of the third-highest polluting industry in the world and the second-largest consumer and polluter of water? If you thought of the fashion industry, you would be right. The conflict between natural resources and new clothing has come to light in the last few years, particularly with the mainstream documentary The True Cost, which illustrates the environmental hardships the fashion industry creates—and the ultimatum we may face by 2025: produce clothing or lose supplies of drinkable water.

Luckily, we may not have to choose, thanks to the influx of used, vintage, and consignment stores—which allow consumers to purchase new-to-you items in good condition, at reduced prices, and with much lower environmental impacts. For Californians though, knowing how to shop eco-friendly fashion doesn’t stop at knowing how to score at thrift stores; it extends to knowing all the sustainable clothing brands spread across the state.

The fashion industry is the third highest polluting industry, behind only the fuel and agriculture industries.

Facts You Didn’t Know About the Fashion Industry

Though the sheer volume of clothing ending up in landfills is astounding, the story gets worse when we talk about the overall environmental impact. Here are some quick facts and numbers:

  • Fast-fashion garments are made out of oil. Polyester, spandex, nylon, acrylic, and acetate are comprised of nonrenewable fossil fuels—which take between 20 and 200 years to biodegrade, all while releasing such harmful chemicals as BPA, heavy metals, and formaldehyde into the environment. 
  • Synthetic fibers shed plastic microfibers when they are washed. Microfibers are too small to be filtered out, which means that they end up in our oceans and eventually in our food chain.
  • 16: The number of chemicals used in the dyeing process that is approved by the EPA. This represents only 10 percent of the total chemicals used. 
  • 2,000: The number of different chemicals used in the processing of textiles. 
  • 7.3 million: The number of cars (and their carbon emissions) that would be off the road if 85 percent of textiles were recycled instead of sent to landfills each year. 
  • 20 billion: The number of pounds of chemicals used to produce textile fibers each year.
Shop for your favorite designer clothes for a fraction of the price at one of California’s luxury thrift shops.

Where to Buy Second-Hand Luxury Clothing in California?

Thanks to companies like The RealReal, ThreadUp, and Poshmark, the fashion industry is changing and we can reduce our overall impact on the planet. If Tidying Up with Marie Kondo inspired you to cleanse your closet of items that do not bring you joy, but you find that you have nothing to wear for the coming summer months, check out some of the California-based, environmentally-conscious fashion companies, and join the one in three women who buy second-hand clothing.

The RealReal

Most of us dream about wearing luxury brands like Chanel, Gucci, and Stella McCartney, but realistically we can’t really afford them. Or can we? Since its launch in 2011, The RealReal has been offering once-worn designer clothes at up to 90 percent of the price at its three physical stores, as well as professionally-curated luxury consignment to its customers via its site. Thanks to The RealReal, designer clothes now have an afterlife, and customers can wear the unique pieces for a fraction of the actual price.

Don’t give up on designer clothes just yet. California’s luxury thrift shops offer you the best of them for a fraction of the price.

ThredUp

Whoever said that luxurious brands and sustainable fashion don’t go hand-in-hand, hasn’t yet visited ThredUp. The company, which prides itself in being the “world’s largest consignment store” gives online thrift shopping a whole new meaning. With over 35,000 brands ranging from GAP to Gucci, the Oakland-based company is a dream come true for an environmentally-conscious individual.  

Poshmark

Thanks to Poshmark, buying and selling new or gently-used designer pieces has become an easy and fun affair. The site, which has over 70 million users, features over 9,000 brands, beginning with loungewear and going all the way up to luxury wear. You can find everything from Nike to Louis Vuitton on the site. Now absolutely anyone can look and feel like an A-lister, wearing the absolute best pieces at a low cost. 

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Popular Sustainable California Brands to Check ASAP

Want to be the first to wear a piece of clothing and still be eco-friendly? That won’t be much of a challenge as well, all thanks to all the eco-friendly fashion brands, made and sold in the Golden State. If you’re not sure where to start, check out these sustainable clothing brands in California and choose for yourself.

Lacausa

As the name suggests, Lacausa (Spanish for the cause) supports a new environmental and humanitarian cause every year and is manufactured in L.A., C.A. — brilliant right? The ethically made dresses, jumpsuits, swimwear, and loungewear are not only sustainable but stylish as well. Support a cause and look sharp with the gorgeous pieces from Lacausa.

California’s eco-friendly shops promise you unique pieces, which are created to fit you regardless of size and shape.

Whimsy + Row

Want to look Cali chic and wear pieces you’ll never see on anyone else? Visit Whimsy + Row right away and choose from their clothing line of jumpsuits, dresses, and bodysuits, that come in small batches. Every piece at this eco-friendly store is made of deadstock fabrics and will make you feel unique as soon as you try them on.  

Two Days Off

Two Days Off is a made-to-order and small-batch shop, based in L.A. Made of natural fibers and sourced from deadstock, their fabrics will fit you like a glove, regardless of size and body type. And if you want to shop online, you don’t have to worry, as they ship all their clothes in plastic-free packaging.

The number one reason you should be buying eco-friendly fashion is that you won’t lose quality yet gain a less-polluted planet.

Why You Should Choose Eco-Friendly Fashion

Pairing eco-friendly jeans with a gently used cotton T-shirt can save up to 1,700 gallons of water, or the equivalent of 37 full bathtubs. If that is not a good enough reason, you’ll like to know that the excitement you feel while sorting through new finds comes with extra benefits. In addition to saving resources, choosing second-hand clothes also helps to save some of the 16 million tons of textiles that would otherwise end up in landfills. While the constant pressures to remain on-trend continue to increase, so does the volume of clothing that we throw away; in the past 20 years, thanks to fast fashion, the volume of clothing Americans get rid of has doubled, resulting in about 80 pounds of tossed textiles per person each year.

While shopping second-hand is one of the most environmentally conscious ways to shop—it reduces each garment’s carbon footprint by 73 percent and extends its life by an average of 2.2 years—it also saves consumers a boatload of money. Most environment-friendly fashion brands are available through online marketplaces and all the luxurious ones have strict quality-assurance standards, ensuring your investment will be authentic and free of imperfections. 


Whether you are visiting the beautiful beaches of San Diego, the skyscrapers of Downtown L.A., or the top art galleries of San Francisco, a vintage, consignment, or thrift store is sure to be nearby. Try it out, and let us know about your latest fashion find.

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