Previous Androgynous Guides: 1
The movement and demand for more ethical fashion is slow but necessary. But with accident after accident across thousands of factories in Asia, the fashion industry can’t continue being ignorant of vulnerable workers and the dire state of the world’s affairs.
Most notably was the tragedy of Rana Plaza. On April 2013, one of the worst garment factory disasters in history shook the lives of thousands of Bangladeshi workers, their families and the fashion industry. Rana plaza, an eight-story garment factory, collapsed into the ground, claiming the lives of 1200+ workers and injuring 2500+ more.
Knowledge really is power, so here’s a beginner’s guide to ethical fashion. It isn’t as pricey, bland or as hard as you may think.
What is ethical fashion?
It essentially means that in the process of manufacturing, workers and their community benefit positively from the employment while ensuring the environment affects are minimal.
But different companies have varied definitions depending on what their priorities are. Reliable ethical companies will be straight forward with what their values are. The way an ethical brand can operate can take on different combination of benefits:
- ensuring workers are fairly compensated
- defend wage/safety rights of workers
- using ecofriendly, sustainable fabrics
- avoid use of harmful chemicals in farming fibres
- using vegan materials that don’t involve the use of animal/animal byproducts
- minimizing carbon foot print
- many more factors!
What can you do to help?
1. Buy Less
The demand for cheaper and cheaper clothing desensitizes customers to believe we need more. You’re chained to the mentality of “But this shirt is only $5, how can I go wrong?!” The customer mindset is to clean your closet, give it to a charity organization and then you have more room in your closet. But only 15-20% of clothing donated to a charity organization are really being used second-hand, the rest are sold to create rags or end up in a landfill.
Note: The opposite isn’t necessarily true. Buying an expensive garment does not guarantee the safety factors surrounding its make.
However, investing in quality over low price, can increase the longevity for a garment to stay in your closet vs rotting in a landfill.
2. Thrift/Vintage Shopping
3. Make Your Own Clothing
It’s very rewarding putting time and effort into creating a garment and then having the satisfaction of wearing it! I know not everyone has ample time to learn all the technical aspects of pattern drafting and construction but you can start small and learn along the way. There’s plenty of DIY resources from creative bloggers:
4. Buy Local
5. Invest In Ethical Brands
Ethical fashion isn’t all scratchy hemp shirts and yoga leggings. There are some really stylish brands that are minimalist/androgynous as they are socially and environmentally conscious. Here are a few of my favorites (I will be writing detailed reviews soon):
Everlane – If you want the timeless GQ look, Everlane is your next best friend. This New York/San Francisco based “radically transparent” online clothing store is incredibly cognizant and transparent about all their practices. Whenever you click on a garment, it shows you a nifty chart with a lot of info: from how much their fabrics cost, the conditions of their factories and to everything else you could really wonder about your clothes’ background. Their refreshing honesty isn’t a gimmick, they really do put a lot of effort into making you look good and feel good too!
Peau de Loup – PDL is 3 folds of amazing. They’re designed and produced in Canada, they specialize in menswear shirts FOR women’s bodies and YOU the customer, is a hand in helping them design their next product! They are incredibly thoughtful with their production process (They use fabric scraps during manufacturing; that’s less textiles in the landfills!) and even give back to the community. When you invest in well made clothes, they last longer (That’s more time to love your clothes!)
Being “ethical” isn’t an all or nothing goal. Start small, be conscious of your spending habits, ask important questions about where your clothing is from, who is making them and how is this one garment impacting the world around you.
This review is not in any way sponsored or affiliated with the brands mentioned. If I am affiliated with the brands in the future, it would be clearly stated on my blog for your discretion.