When we think about a capsule wardrobe, we wouldn’t usually include our activewear. It makes sense, I mean you wouldn’t pair a neon yellow sports bra with your black tailored work trousers (or maybe you would? I guess it depends on your personal style…). But this means we often neglect to consider the sustainability of our workout wear. The all-encompassing textiles industry is one of the most resource intensive and environmentally polluting industries globally. With the fitness and wellness industries booming, more and more people are investing in activewear (Quartz, 2017; Telegraph, 2016), therefore it’s crucial we all become more conscious about our collection of sportswear.
Well, where to begin? What should you consider? Whether you’re thinking of buying something new or reviewing what you already own, here are some of the key questions to ask yourself…
Does it fit you well?
Usability is essential when assessing any area of your wardrobe, especially when it comes to what you’ll wear for exercise. We workout to both look and feel good. If your exercise clothes don’t work for you, you might feel less confident when stepping into the studio and therefore less likely to give your training session everything you’ve got because you’re pre-occupied with your top hugging your tummy too tightly or your leggings slipping down your behind. WRAP has found 30% of clothing in the average wardrobe hasn’t been worn for a year, often because it doesn’t fit anymore. If you’re not using an item because it doesn’t fit quite right, why let it take up precious space in your home? Only purchase activewear that makes you feel as a great as you do after an amazing workout.
How often will you wear it?
Think about your personal style. We’ve all got caught up in fast fashion trends before, seeing our favourite influencers wearing the same print or cut clothing and wanting to be part of it, then a month or two later wondering why we went for something so wacky. Assess why you want the piece you’re considering purchasing. Is it part of a short-lived trend that you’ll regret buying into in a few months time? Think about the items you own that you do and don’t wear regularly. Which pile will this new piece fit into? Do you have other items that will compliment it? Style is about longevity, so pick pieces you know you’ll wear for years of sweaty, stretchy sessions to come.
How long will it last?
What material is it made from? Does it feel durable? Breathable? Supportive? Are there already bobbles before it’s been bought? Does the stitching look strong enough? There’s nothing worse than diving deep into a squat and hearing your leggings rip, revealing all! Assess the quality of the item, choosing quality over quantity every time.
Does the brand ethos align with your values?
Dig a little deeper into the company that made your clothes. What can you find out about their sustainability strategy? Are they socially or environmentally conscious? See if their values align with your own. If it’s the way in which workers are treated that you care about the most, then find out what the company does to ensure fair and safe labour conditions throughout their supply chain. Our perhaps you’re passionate about waste, do they use any recycled fibres in their product? If you can’t find out what you want to know on their website, email or call their head office to find out more. Even if you don’t get the answer you’re looking for, that call or email might trigger internal discussions that get you the answer you want in the future. You are what you wear, only buy into brands that share your beliefs.
Do you need it?
So it fits you well, it matches your personal style, the quality seems high and you love the company’s ethos, but you already have 3 pairs of leggings with a similar print and mesh bottom. Now it’s time to be strict on yourself – how many pairs of leggings do you really need? Say you exercise on average 4 times, and you get really sweaty 2 of those 4 times. Perhaps you need 2 pairs of leggings for the week. Then possibly a spare pair or two in case you can’t wash and dry them in time, or they get an unfixable tear. That’s 4 pairs of leggings you’ll need at the very most. We’re all guilty of owning more than we need. In the UK, a study by Oxfam and M&S (2016) found adults wear just 44% of clothing they own regularly. That’s a waste of resources, money, time and space! Reducing the number of items you have and working towards a more minimalist wardrobe is great for both space saving and avoiding morning outfit stress!
Keep an eye out for my next blog post on my sustainable sportswear discoveries coming soon!