Where to Start Your Ethical Fashion Journey
Where do you start? Here are some good brands and retailers to start your journey.
If you want basics, sometimes with a twist.
Everlane uses only "the finest material," and prides themselves on giving the "true cost" of their clothing. All of their factories are ethical and they are manufactured in some of the same factories as designer made clothing. It's a win all around.
Patagonia is an activist company focused on the environment and it's corporate impact on it. Patagonia has also become a political activist lately by closing down on Election Day and donating $10 million to counteract the current Administration's environmental cuts. Before all of this, Patagonia was one of the very first activist corporations donating thousands to grassroots environmental organizations across the country. With Patagonia, you can know that any excess of money you may spend will eventually be put toward their own political agenda. If that aligns with yours, it is a company you may want to support.
People Tree. $$-$$$.
People Tree is fair trade and certified organic. They are currently working to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible. They also show you the stories of all of their artisans, which I always find fascinating. I like to know exactly where my clothes come from, and People Tree provides those answers.
If you want unique, artisan made clothing.
Krochet Kids. $-$$.
Krochet Kids is working to break the cycle of poverty by paying their artisans living wages. I love this, because to me, this is the source of the ethical fashion movement. I would rather spend my money on someone that needs it than a fat cat CEO. Krochet Kids also tell the stories of their artisans, so you know exactly who is making your clothes.
All Things Mochi. $$-$$$.
All Things Mochi "was born to support stitching communities." It features beautiful woven and embroidered clothing and pays all of its artisans a fair, living wage.
Bibi Hanum. $$$-$$$$.
Bibi Hanum "is a socially responsible enterprise that creates garments and accessories using traditional handwoven silk-cotton ikat fiber." They pay living, fair wages and create work for their artisans in Uzbekistan.
If you want used and a great deal.
ThredUp is the largest thrift store on the internet. From Coach to Tory Burch to Milly, there are tons of designers to choose from at a fraction of the price.
Etsy has tons of vintage clothing shops, many of which have designer clothes from the 50s, 60s, and 70s (if you're looking for true vintage). I could get lost in searching for great Etsy shops, so I will let you venture down this rabbit hole at your own risk. Oh, and if you want real mom jeans, Etsy has them - straight from the late 80s, early 90s.
Your Local Thrift Store. $-$$.
What better way to shop local than shopping at your own thrift store? I try to avoid Goodwill because their executives are paid grossly high wages for a non-profit. But most cities have local, independently run thrift stores that you can shop at instead. These are always a hit or miss, so I tend to find my funkier, unique pieces here.
If you want big name, designer brands.
AG - Adriando Goldschmeid. $$-$$$.
AG uses eco-friendly, sustainable fibers and runs a separate non-profit dedicated to providing clean water to third world countries. While they started manufacturing mainly jeans, they have a wide range of products now from t-shirts to dresses.
Rag and Bone. $$$-$$$$.
While not as sustainable as some of the other brands, Rag and Bone has a denim recycling program that is pretty unique. Customers are encouraged to bring their old jeans to a store. Old jeans are then recycled and reused for insulation in homes.
If you want luxury.
Stella McCartney. Some say Stella McCartney led the sustainable fashion movement. Stella McCartney has a three tier sustainable plan for the environment, people, and animals. They only use sustainable, eco-friendly materials that do not harm the environment. They ensure fair wages throughout their entire supply chain. They use no fur in any of their collections and all of their animal fibers are acquired ethically, and cruelty free.
AMUR holds the philosophy that "great style does not come at the expense of the environment." All of their fibers are sustainably sourced and their manufacturing process operates with minimal environmental impact.
If you want convenience.
Target has been named one of the world's most ethical companies for multiple years now. They have pledged to use 100% sustainable cotton by 2020. While not all of their brands carried inside the store are "ethical," some of them are such as: Method, Annie's, TOM's for Target, Burt's Bees, Target brand clothes, and Evol Foods.
Even if you cannot get 100% ethically sourced clothing and products, one thing that Target has been on the forefront with consistently is civil rights and social justice. If nothing else, I always support companies that hold similar ethos as I do. For me, Target has that.
Gap uses sustainable cotton for all clothing and 20% less water for each pair of jeans they create. Their P.A.C.E. program provides training and education for women around the world so they can provide better futures for their families. In addition, Gap runs the (Red) program which donates a portion of proceeds for AIDs research and treatment in Africa.