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Sustainable Maximalism *Is* Possible—and This Designer Is Proof

Sustainable fashion is associated with minimalism, but what if we said you can be a sustainable maximalist? A designer weighs in.

Written by
Angelica Pizza

Fashion is all about self-expression. It's about clothing and accessories that make you feel confident, comfortable, and empowered. And that's exactly what sustainable maximalism means to Sara Camposarcone, a designer, stylist, and content creator.

With the rise of sustainable fashion, many people have resorted to minimalist wardrobes—aka capsule wardrobes and outfit repeating. And while minimalism poses a massive environmental benefit (goodbye landfill waste and fast-fashion brands), it's not the only way to support sustainable fashion practices.

In the latest episode of Good Together, Camposarcone says to be sustainable doesn’t have to mean to dress simple. Sustainable maximalism is multi-faceted, and your personal style can still coincide with ethical and sustainable fashion no matter how you choose to style yourself.

"I like to call myself a sustainable maximalist because although I enjoy layering, bold prints, lots of color, and exaggerated silhouettes, I also care very deeply about the environment and the impact my closet can have on the earth," she says. "I shop mainly secondhand and vintage, and if not, I purchase from ethical small designers that I admire."

With over 488,000 followers on TikTok and nearly 50,000 followers on Instagram, Camposarcone made a name for herself as a designer and a sustainable maximalist—all while rejecting the fashion industry's harmful practices, embracing her love for bold fashion, and keeping the planet in mind.

The Fashion Industry's Impact on the Planet

Let's first break down the fashion industry's negative impact on the environment. The industry has incredibly wasteful practices. Roughly 85% of all textiles end up in landfills each year. And the industry is even associated with notably high carbon and water footprints.

"The fashion industry accounts for almost 10% of global carbon emissions, which is even more than aviation itself," Camposarcone says. "The problem with the fashion industry and fast fashion, in general, is that we, as consumers, are told we need a million new pieces each season—or micro season for that matter—just to stay on 'trend.'"

Haul culture and quick, everchanging trends are partially to blame for the wastefulness of the fashion industry. Research shows that the average consumer now purchases about 60% more items of clothing compared to over 20 years ago. However, each garment is kept half as long. On average, about 40% of clothes in our closets are never even worn.

And Camposarcone says one of the problems is the rate at which we consume fast fashion—which is already made unsustainably.

"The resources it takes to produce this amount of clothing, at the rate we consume, and then to simply have the garment fall apart or thrown out, is completely unsustainable," she adds. "Investing in higher-priced items, that are made ethically and sustainably, will last you and the earth a lot longer."

Fast fashion is specifically notorious for using nonrenewable energy, unethical labor practices, synthetic fibers, and more. Factor in how fast our culture moves through trends, and you're looking at a massive environmental footprint.

Breaking up with fast fashion and unsustainable practices isn't easy—but it's not impossible. It's also not impossible to curate a planet-friendly closet that represents your unique style. Here's how Camposarcone embraces sustainable maximalism and invests in her style.

How to Be a Sustainable Maximalist, According to an Expert

Camposarcone is a trendsetter in the world of sustainable, maximalist fashion. She's unapologetic and bold, setting an example for other fashion lovers who aren't sure how to embrace individuality and the planet simultaneously.

She tells us exactly how to be a sustainable maximalist and how to uplift more eco-friendly fashion practices. First, she loves shopping secondhand.

"I am an avid secondhand online shopper! eBay, Depop, Poshmark, Vestaire, The RealReal, etc. are my go-to's for all things vintage and designer," Camposarcone says. "I don’t thrift in stores as often as I used to—but I love a good Facebook Marketplace find for eclectic home decor and vintage furniture as well!"

Camposarcone also says she isn't afraid to repeat outfits and bend social norms. And getting dressed is like "a new adventure."

"I rewear pieces in my closet all the time, and I definitely rewear full outfits!" she says. "My closet is quite extensive, so I do have quite a lot to choose from on a daily basis, and I like to experiment with trying new outfit combinations all the time. I never follow fashion 'rules'—I just wear what makes me feel the happiest that day!"

When she's ready to get rid of old pieces and make room for new ones, Camposarcone likes to give back to those around her. And she definitely doesn't let clothes get sent to landfills.

"When I find I'm ready to part with pieces in my closet, I like to first see if any of my friends would like to have them for themselves, but if not, I like to bring them to my local women's shelter," she says. "Thrift stores in my area can be quite pricey, so I like to give back as much as I can."

And finally, Camposarcone leaves us with a few words of sustainable fashion wisdom. To her, sustainable fashion is all about quality over quantity—that means opting for ethically made pieces that are long-lasting (even after you're finished with them).

"The better your clothing is made, and the more value it has to your personal style, the better you will feel in it!" she tells us.

Sustainable maximalism isn't one-size-fits-all. And when it comes down to it, you get to choose how you want to embrace your style and sustainable fashion. Will you be a sustainable maximalist, too?