This week we celebrate one year of! 🎊✨🎂🪐🧡Where I intended this to be a small side project with only one newsletter a month, running for a limited time only, it slowly expanded to a platform with lots and lots and lots of sustainable shopping links.

And with zillion ideas in my head I am clearly not done yet. But before we head into year 2 of The Cosmospolite and venture up new things, here is what I’ve been meaning to do for this last year: Tell you all about The Cosmospolite values.

Quite essential on a platform of a fanatic #wearyourvalues user. But where to start when you can write a book?!

Earlier I wrote a short article about my vision on sustainable fashion. In which I claimed sustainable fashion to be non-existing. For the simple reason that within the fashion industry (or any industry really) there will always be pollution, extraction of precious resources from earth and emissions caused by transportation. We can only speak of more sustainable or cosmos-friendly clothes.

But if I was asked to write a description of sustainable fashion for the dictionary it would sound something like: It’s fashion that’s polite for the cosmos. You. Me. And all other living beings.

Where truly cosmos-friendly is wearing what you have, swap, rent, amend or make your own. Only last comes buying new clothes.

I made it my mission to help you with that last step – to get you an ethical and sustainable wardrobe less ordinary. So here, don’t expect just anything and certainly not everything. Nope! At The Cosmospolite you can find a highly curated collection of contemporary and outspoken clothing and accessories. From brands that are committed to ethical and fair work conditions and create cosmos-friendly items, while fighting the pressing problem of the fashion industry; overproduction.

Ethical, sustainable, overproduction… It’s time to clarify my vision when it comes to these container words.

Ethically-created clothes are designed, made and traded in a fair and respectful way to all people involved. In the most ideal sense, it benefits those working along the supply chain and creates a better future for everyone. Think about fair pay for garment workers, the right to start a trade union or offering the same internship chances for people from all different backgrounds.

Today, only 1% of the clothes is fairly made. Most garment workers are not even paid a living wage, make long days and work under unhygienic and unsafe working conditions. With approx 80% of garment workers being women, it makes buying and wearing ethical clothes an act of feminism. Because with every purchase you either support women or you don’t. ⁠

Where ethical fashion is mostly about human wellbeing, sustainable fashion is a collective word for clothes produced in way which is substantially less harmful for people, animal and the planet. Think about natural fibers, organic fabrics, water reduction, natural dyes, minimizing CO2 or working with biodegradable packaging.

Considering that 75% of the sustainability impact happens at the raw materials stage - before clothes have actually been made - sustainable clothes is all about the fabric. Needless to say, that choosing natural fibers such as organic cotton, Tencel, wool or bamboo over synthetics such as nylon, polyester or acryl (aka oil) is an easy way to support the planet. Not only because oil mining has a devastating effect on the environment and people working in or around mining. New research found that 35% of the microplastics found in the oceans come from synthetic textile.

old western clothes dump in African country

Image courtesy of Joshua Ganyobi Odamtten / Vogue Business

Around €150 million worth of textile waste goes to landfill and waste each year. This is a lot of unnecessary waste of resources and human energy. Business of Fashion already called it fashions’ dirty little secret and Vogue Business decided to make it a main topic during her first Earth Month sessions. I am talking about overproduction. In fighting this, I see the biggest solution for fashion industries pressing problem. Simply said: less productions equals less usage of (virgin) resources, equals less waste and stimulates less consumption. I believe the future is bright for brands fighting this.

Now, I told you a bit more about my thoughts on these overly used words. But there is more.... Here is how I incorporate this into The Cosmospolite.

Talking about ethics, sustainability and over productions automatically brings country of origin on the table. Because ‘Made in China’ or ‘Made in Bangladesh’ sounds like mass production. An important point of attention at The Cosmospolite. I prefer to work with brands that design, make and sell/ship from one and the same country. This keeps emissions and transport costs low, stimulates local economy and enables brand owners to stay highly involved in all steps of the chain. If not possible I look into the reason ‘why not?’ Often to conclude that production in Bolivia, Sri Lanka or even China is done for a pretty good reason like empowering local communities or safeguarding traditions.

Where would we be without transparency? We need to know: where our clothes were made, by who, what’s inside and what resources are used. We need to know since we can't just simply believe whatever a brands says. Often the more a brand talks about and uses the typical words, the less they do good. We need to know and learn about a brand to prevent ourselves from falling into the trap of greenwashing. And while being transparent often means telling all about the good things a brand does and simply leaving out all the negatives, it is still our main source to check if a brand matches our values and decide whether it fits our values. When in doubt I always check Good on You and check for different references across the web.

According to WWD, consumers spent more than seven billion hours online searching for “sustainable,” “ethical,” “fair trade,” and “eco-friendly” items in 2020. Most of it was me!

So here it is, the beginning of a book ;-) Simply put in a meme and checklist:

cat laying on top of a vintage computer sustainable fashion meme

1. Is a brand ethical?

Does a brand make an effort to improve human wellbeing alongside the entire chain? Which of these claims are made and can be proven: fair-trade, ethical labor, women empowerment, supporting communities, animal wellbeing and/or vegan.

2. Is a brand sustainable? What conscious material are sourced? Which of these claims are made and can be proven: natural, organic, recycled, vegan, cruelty free, recycled, upcycled and/or deadstock materials.

3. Does a brand fights overproduction?

Is production kept to a maximum? Which of these claims are made and can be proven: pre-order, small batched, limited edition, made-to-order, handwork, artisanal, craftsmanship, pre-owned, vintage and/or rent

4. Where is it made and why there?

What is the reason a brand chooses a country for its production?

Which of these claims are made and can be proven: Artisanal, craftsmanship, support local communities, women empowerment, Made in Europe, Made in America, locally made, locally sourced and/or empower communities?

5. How transparent is a brand?

What is a brand telling me? And what not? Does a brand talk about its emission numbers, water reduction in liters, percentage of mark up, CO 2 compensation and/or blockchain traceability.

Bonuspoints go to brands that dare to say they are not 100% sustainable (sustainability is a never ending journey) or stimulate to buy less, are size inclusive female- and/or bipoc-owned and make charitable efforts

Being transparent myself: also for The Cosmspolite it’s an ongoing journey to monitor the brands covered on the platform. That’s way occasionally a brand is kicked out of the ethical and sustainable fashion brand index (so long Reformation). Luckily I discover and include more and more brands on the platform monthly.

Do you have information about a brand which I seem to have not? Questions sustainability of one of the covered brands? Want to suggest a new brand? Love to learn, hear or know. You can contact me via leonie@thecosmospolitecom

Stay Cosmic