Have you ever thought about who makes your clothes? Or how companies can be so profitable while selling clothes at such a low cost? We have all heard the sweatshop factory horror stories about child labor, unsafe factory conditions and ill-paid workers. How can you shop for the clothes and accessories you love, while also ensuring that the people who made your clothes were treated and paid fairly in a safe environment? Follow these five tips and fill your closet with cute, sexy and “no-harm” clothes and accessories.
1. Do the legwork about Ethical fashion.
To start shopping ethically, you have to know the difference between Fast Fashion or Mainstream Fashion and Ethical Fashion or Fair Trade Fashion. There are subtle differences between all the terms, but in general ethical and Fair Trade fashion promotes quality garment production, fair wages for employees and safe work environments. Fast fashion generally encourages the production of cheaply made garments with minimized time and money and little regard for those producing the clothing. For more information visit some top sites like:
The True Cost (A documentary)
2. Ask Questions!
Before you spend your hard earned money with your favorite fashion brands, demand transparency and accountability of their manufacturing processes. Ask questions directly to them via Facebook, Twitter and email. Some sample questions to ask:
1. Which country does your cotton come from? If you don’t know, are you planning to find out?
2. Can you guarantee that no child labor or forced labor has been used in any part of the production process?
3. Where are your factories? What are the working conditions of the factory workers? What are they paid in relation to that country’s living wages? Do you ensure they get those wages?
4. What are the working conditions of farmers producing cotton for you? How much are they paid and how do you ensure they are getting their wages?
5. How do you choose the factories you use for production and is there an independent body monitoring their corporate responsibility?
3. Google It!
Gone are the days where in customers are left in the dark about the supply chains of fashion companies. The advent of technology has opened an avenue of apps and websites to streamline ethical fashion experience for customers. Here are a few of our favorite:
Higg Index ("tool for measuring the environmental and social performance of apparel products)
Free2Work (Free2Work is another consumer information platform with barcode scanning technology that provides users with data on a brand's responses to forced and child labor practices.)
Fair Trace Tool (mobile-enabled technology to provide a transparent view of where, and under what conditions, clothes were made)
GoodGuide (barcode-scanning feature allows you to instantly find out how responsible a product is based on scientists' ratings on a product's health, environmental and social impact)
4. Use your voice for change
After thoroughly researching ethical fashion and fair trade clothing, you can discern whether or not a certain brand has been developed in line with your values. You will be able to know whether it is wise to support the brand or if it is time to look for a better alternative. If you find ethically-minded fashion companies that you love, promote them to your friends and families. Many ethical fashion companies are small and because they pay fair wage do not have the large advertising budgets to compete with the fast fashion companies. Help them by following them on social media, writing good reviews and telling friends or family.
5. Support ethical fashion companies.
If you think that ethical fashion is all about expensiveness and unstylishness, you are mistaken. The truth is that they are super stylish and are a better choice than poorly-made fashion. This is one of the reasons why there are lots of customers attracted to the ethical fashion industry. It is then worthwhile that you give your support, too. Do a simple Google search for Ethical Fashion companies or try the Sustainable Fashion Directory. Here are a few of our favorite ethical fashion brands:
Every time you spend money, you are casting a vote to the type of world you want to live in. Make sure your choices match with your values - that’s the real essence of ethical fashion.