Another question I keep hearing a lot about involves Athleisure: How can something that isn’t organic cotton be considered sustainable. This article will explore why it can be as long as it accounts for the environment, ethics, and the economy.
So how in the world can Athleisure be considered sustainable?
Athleisure promotes smaller wardrobes
There is a culture around athleisure. Synonomyous with the past decade or so of casual workplace environments. You simply don’t need the same huge wardrobe that you did in the 80’s to be successful in the workplace.
Less clothing = less waste = more sustainable
Yes, it’s a little bit of a stretch, but hear me out: If we encourage people who wear whatever they want regardless of what other people think, they simply will consume less. The athleisure culture, no matter how #distasteful it may seem to some people, is actually a lot more sustainable movement.
Now if only, athleisure looked professional or professional clothing became more comfortable.
Athleisure encourages casual wear
Casual wear encourages less consumption altogether, not just lest waste. Casual wear is easier to design, easier to make and easier to mix with other outfits. The easier a garment is to match with other garments in a wardrobe, the less a person will feel the need to increase the size of their wardrobe. Smaller wardrobes are more sustainable overall.
It’s Easier to make Athleisure
Digging a little deeper into how it’s easier to make athleisure. From a manufacturing perspective, there are less moving parts, less to go wrong. Less waste. Fewer materials. More time to produce garments with care. More time to encourage good design, and easier on the budget to use the leftover funds to upgrade to the more sustainable fabric.
When I started my fashion brand, I had at least 10 samples sent to the manufacturer to create the perfect garment. The first version had a lot of extra parts to it that made it more expensive and time-consuming. Taking them out allowed me to switch the fabric to be more sustainable. Yes, it cost more, but the simpler design offsets the cost.
Athleisure is very much the same. It doesn’t cost as much to produce a sweatshirt than an elaborate suit jacket. From this perspective, it could be a lot more sustainable to decrease the complexity of a design for the sake of time and cost-effectiveness.
Casual Designs are Simpler
Again, talking about the production side of things. A simpler design lets you wear the garment in more than one situation, outside work and working out. A simpler wardrobe lets you wear the same garments within all situations, reducing the total amount of clothing you need to wear.
This goes back to the capsule wardrobe theory: only wear garments that you find useful or spark joy. Useful clothing becomes a lot more useful if you can wear it in multiple situations. Athleisure can be seamlessly integrated into a capsule wardrobe, which overall is more sustainable.
Now just because I said athleisure can be sustainable, doesn’t mean that all athleisure is sustainable. It’s also important to not just go out and throw out all of your clothing in place of athleisure. Instead, we just need to recognize that anyone can have their own unique style and can be considered sustainable as long as it accounts for ethics, the environment, and the economy.