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Get Into Sustainable Style in Austin this Spring

Local sustainable fashion experts share tips on where to shop, what to look for, and how to make your pieces last as long as possible

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esby apparel (photo courtesy of Swim Call Media by Travis Hallmark) Photography by Travis Hallmark

For many of us, the spring season brings a sense of renewal for our spirits, for our environment, and even for our wardrobes. If you’re ready to shake up your personal style while also supporting local eco-friendly businesses, sustainable fashion is the right move. 

Focus on all-natural fabrics and pieces that will last

While it can feel fun to score deals at fast fashion stores, a major reason for that low cost can be found on the fabric label. Synthetic materials like polyester and acrylic are cheap to produce, but they lack the durability and overall quality of natural fibers. 

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esby apparel (photo courtesy of Swim Call Media by Travis Hallmark)

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Stephanie Beard, Owner of Esby

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esby apparel (photo courtesy of Swim Call Media by Travis Hallmark)

That’s why Stephanie Beard, owner of Austin-based sustainable clothing brand esby apparel, tells us that her brand exclusively uses all-natural fabrics.  “This is one of the best ways to create sustainable products that you can wear again and again,” Beard shares.

In addition to creating garments that will last — which is sustainable in and of itself since it reduces the need to generate more clothing — natural fibers don’t require chemicals for their production, which is an eco-friendly advantage.

Jean Jones, an Austin fashion designer who has been making sustainable and environmentally-conscious clothing for 30 years, is a devoted fan of natural fibers in both her design studio and her own closet.

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Jean Jones | Photography by Shelby Cox

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Jean Jones | Photography by Parker Thornton

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Jean Jones | Photography by Parker Thornton

“I see the foundational principle of sustainability as my guiding force. I make the most beautiful clothes that I can with natural materials that do not damage the earth and that are ethically made with skill and a passion for quality,” Jones says. When it comes to specifics, she tells us, “I’m very picky about where my fabrics come from and I always look for the OEKO certification for sustainability. I’m proud to say that the majority of my fabrics carry this certification. Sustainability and style are interwoven concepts in my collection.”

In addition to esby and Jean Jones, another Austin shop that carries chic clothes made with natural fabrics is KICK PLEAT, which is a favorite of Austin-based personal wardrobe stylist Natalie Frazier

“Most of the brands and designers they carry are small and less known, but they have a commitment to using eco-friendly practices and sustainable fabrics,” says Frazier. “These come at a higher price, but to me, it’s totally worth it to support the environment and leave with investment pieces I’ll love for many years to come.”

Before buying new clothing, “shop” your closet.

From both a budgetary perspective and an environmental perspective, it’s smart to take inventory of the clothing items you already have before picking up new pieces. 

“The most sustainable approach is to wear what you already have. As you go through your wardrobe, think about what works for you, and what pieces keep you coming back to,” explains Jones. “How do you feel when you wear these clothes? As you are doing this, you are also assessing your own personal style, which can change some through the years, but the authentic you will always be you.” 

If you do decide to hit the stores after you “shop” your closet, be sure to consider “price per wear,” recommends Beard. “Sometimes we are suckers for a good deal, but the purchase isn’t as exciting as when we save up for what we really want. ‘Good deals’ turn out to be not as financially responsible if the items just sit in your closet. Save up for that item you love. You will be so excited to wear it again and again.”

Wondering what to do with the closet items you’ve filtered out? The most sustainable options are to either take pieces to a clothing swap or to donate items you no longer use. 

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(photo courtesy of Charm School Vintage)

Consider shopping vintage and secondhand

Because all new clothing production — even clothing made from natural and sustainable fibers — leaves an environmental footprint, a more sustainable alternative to buying brand-new is to explore the fashion resale market. Virtual marketplaces like eBay, Poshmark, and RE.STATEMENT, a Texas-based online shop that specializes in “upcycled” clothes made by transforming and redesigning vintage pieces, give shoppers easy access to secondhand clothing, but if you’d rather do your shopping the old-fashioned way, Austin is home to a plethora of excellent vintage and resale stores. Some of our favorites:

  • Blackfeather Vintage Works: An East Austin vintage boutique with menswear, womenswear, and every style aesthetic from 1950s housewife to 1990s grunge.
  • Charm School Vintage: A chic shop in East Austin with carefully-curated retro duds and locally-made sustainable jewelry.
  • STAX ATX: An East Austin store that features the city’s best selection of vintage and pre owned streetwear and collectible sneakers.
  • Revival Vintage: A one-stop shop in North Loop for beautiful vintage clothing and beautiful vintage furniture and home goods, all at impressively reasonable prices.
  • The Zilker trifecta of Pavement (a trendy contemporary resale shop), Moss (a consignment shop specializing in designer clothing and accessories), and Garment Modern & Vintage (a vintage shop that also leans in a luxury direction), all located on the same block of South Lamar Boulevard.