Ethical Fashion Guide - 5 Steps You Need to Know about Ethical Fashion
When it comes to shopping for clothes, there are so many factors you need to consider. The ordinary shopper will consider style, comfort, color, audience, lines, season, pattern, quality of the fabric, cost, and a whole lot more but do you think about ethical fashion? You can say, shopping is not just a skill but an art. But one thing most of us forget is that the top question that we need to consider in shopping is this: Is it sustainable? This seemingly simple question in itself is loaded with much weight that you need to consider. In this article, you will see what steps to consider when buying fashion.
After the deadly garment factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, consumers had second thoughts about shopping for new clothes, specifically questioning how clothes were made. Consumers wanted to better understand where the clothes came from, how they were made, were there any abuses to animals and workers during the production of the clothes. In short, consumers wanted transparency in the fashion industry. But, they do not know where to start. The factors can be overwhelming to the ordinary consumer especially if you are just buying a single item at a store.
Statistics show that 2.5 billion consumers do not want to sacrifice style or affordability over sustainability and social responsibility. But do you need to sacrifice style and affordability over social responsibility? You can buy ethically or sustainably made clothes that are stylish and affordable. Sometimes, consumers are just too lazy to do a little research where to buy these ethically made clothes.
In my journey of looking for ethical fashion, I have come across multiple sources that make it easier for me to shop ethically. I have spent hours and hours of research in looking for the best brands which are cruelty-free, ethically made, and stylish. I want to share these 5 steps on how I do my ethical fashion shopping:
STEP 1: Know What Ethical Fashion Means
What is ethical fashion? The first step is to know what ethical fashion means. Ethical fashion at its very core aims to promote sustainable sourcing and quality garment production. Ethical fashion promotes quality items made with sustainable sources and made by workers paid on a fair wage. The term can be interchanged to sustainable fashion, eco-friendly fashion, organic fashion, slow fashion among others.
For those who are not familiar with the fast fashion industry, the events of 2013 in Rana Plaza, Bangladesh, where 1,138 people lost their lives was heartbreaking news. This sudden, tragic loss of so many people seemed to shift consumers' minds: people requested that brands must change, and apply their inclusivity and consumer respect to their workshops and factories. People stood up and demanded ethical manufacturing practices – but even after 2013, the problems fast fashion generates still exist.
Sustainability in Fashion is trending now because of the demand of the consumer, the affordability of the product, and the environmental impact of the product. Bags and clothes like GNL Accessories promote slow fashion, PETA certified cruelty-free and sustainable. GNL has taken a stand against animal cruelty.
Here are some helpful sites to know more about ethical fashion:
STEP 2: Cross-Check Your Favorite Brands
The next step is to cross-check your favorite brands. Since you already know what ethical fashion is, double-check with the brands that you wear if they are ethical brands. Are they ethical in terms of labor, employment, supply chains? The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act eradicates slavery and human trafficking by requiring a multimillion-dollar business to be transparent in their chain of supply. So, big companies like Gap have to be transparent in their response to their participation in social and environmental responsibility.
Here are some tools that you can check out to know the supply chains of your favorite brands:
STEP 3: Your Favorite Fashion Brands are Accountable
Hold them accountable. Once you know where your favorite brand stands (whether in slow fashion or fast fashion), then you make them accountable. Voice out your concern. You can either email them about your concern or just simply make an informed choice not to support their brand if they are not adhering to the standards of ethical fashion.
Brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein take their efforts on sustainable fashion towards the next level by banning exotic skins. In a statement by Tommy Hilfiger representative said, "we are committed to creating a better fashion industry by crafting fashion that "wastes nothing and welcomes everything." It was PVH Corp, the parent company of TH and CK that banned the use of exotic skins.
Big luxury brands like these will ALWAYS adjust to the demands of the consumer. Your voices will be heard!
STEP 4: Support Sustainable Fashion
This next step is obvious. If you have done your due diligence. Know what ethical fashion is. Cross checked the facts of your favorite brands, then the next logical step is to support sustainable fashion.
MISCONCEPTION: Ethical fashion is unstylish and too expensive!
Wrong! Nowadays, ethical fashion is stylish and affordable. If you have been supporting fast fashion because it is affordable, you should be supporting slow (ethical) fashion instead since more and more ethical fashion brands have become stylish and affordable. The reality is this: Sustainable fashion is just as stylish and just as affordable as mainstream fashion. If you support ethical brands, you win in all aspects. The question is where to look? Here are some quick links to help you out:
- Pure Citizen
- Fashioning Change
- TOMS Marketplace
- My Pinterest List of Sustainable Fashion Companies
STEP 5: Buy Smarter
If you don't need to buy anything yet, don't. If you need to buy, buy smarter. The average American woman wears only 20% of the clothes she buys. The rest stay inside the closet. We are buying more than we need. This is why we should buy less and we should buy smart. Buying sustainable clothing is the smarter choice. You can get discounts when purchasing ethical fashion. Here are some brands that might give you a discount or two:
- ThreadUP (get $20 to spend on your first purchase with this link!)
- Fashion Conscience
- Honest By
- Shop Ethica
These 5 simple steps should be your mantra from now on when buying any type of fashion, be it clothes, accessories, shoes, or anything else. You will not just feel good about what you wear, you have also helped the environment.