In a western world that’s filled to the brim with fast fashion and a fast paced lifestyle, it can often be a lot harder to be ethical in your choices of clothing than you might think. With all of the high street chains of shops and brands being a little secretive with their production methods, it can be daunting knowing what to do and where to buy your clothes from. Going down the ethical route is the way to go. What is ethical fashion? It’s clothing from brands or companies that have paid a fair wage to their workers, grown cotton and other plants resourcefully, and been careful with their production to make sure they aren’t damaging things around them, as well as giving back. There are quite a few ethical fashion brands out there already, but I’ve listed 6 ways in which you can be a little more ethical in your shopping on a day to day basis without having to specifically search for brands that fit the bill. Here’s the list:
Charity/Good Will Shops
One of the best ways to keep your shopping on the ethical side is by shopping for clothes in charity or good will shops. The second hand market has some amazing treasures to be found, but the best part about it is the fact that you’re helping donate money to the charity and do good by buying their clothes. If you are more on the stylish side, sometimes you can pick up some amazing bargains on fantastic brands or current trends for a fraction of the price, so not only are you saving your bank account from an unwanted dent, you’re supporting fantastic causes. Once you’re done with your own clothes as well, donating them to the charity shops is the route to go down, creating an endless cycle of giving and doing good.
These clothing items might not be ethical in the way they are made (you need to check that first), however you are really helping to support local businesses by shopping at independent retailers in your city. How many times do we often find ourselves hopping online to see which store might have the product we want at a cheaper price? This is great if you are watching your pennies, but it’s not great for the local businesses and people in your city as the big, mass market retailers often push smaller stores out of business. Whenever you can, pop into your local clothes boutiques (which aren’t a franchise) and browse their selection of clothing. You can find hidden gems in there and often you might end up with some unique pieces which make you stand out from the crowd, all while supporting your neighbourhood and local shops. That’s a win, win situation!
Second Hand Websites
Much like charity or goodwill shops, you can shop second hand clothing online and that works just as well. If you can’t make it to a local charity shop or you haven’t found anything you like in your nearby stores, heading to second hand websites could be perfect. These can either be online auction sites (although these aren’t great as you’re lining the pockets of the website owners) or second hand selling sites where members can list their products in a non auction format. You won’t be benefiting any charities, however you will be helping to give those clothes a new lease of life and help someone who’s struggling for money. You never know what you might find and if you want to be a bit more cautious about shopping from stores, buying second hand isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve personally done it numerous times and it’s been fantastic!
Hand Made Clothes
How about something 100% unique, completely ethical, and helping to support independent people? If you like the idea of that then hand made clothes are ideal. You can find a local seamstress or tailor, or even a fashion student, who can either design you items or create what you have designed yourself. This is fantastic as you’re supporting that person and paying a completely fair wage to them, all while having a really unique, bespoke item which is well made. You can either look online for places by you that hand make clothing or you can check out places like Etsy or other online websites where people can sell their own hand made creations. This is a great option for extremely fashionable men and women who love to look good, on trend, and have an edge to their pieces, as well as exclusivity.
Brands Who Donate/Do Good
Not all big, corporate brands are bad, there are quite a few who do good and give back… believe it or not. Now that more and more problems and situations in the world are being brought to light, it’s making way for more brands to be a lot more ethical in their garment production and sourcing. One fashion brand that springs to mind for giving is TOMS. You’ve probably heard of this shoe company as they make casual, easy to wear, slip on shoes, but they have a one for one policy which means for every pair of shoes purchased by a customer, they will donate one pair of shoes to a child in need. How good is that? So with every purchase of a pair of TOMS that you make, you are also giving a pair of shoes to someone who needs them. There are lots of brands out there that do good things like this and even donate some of their proceeds to charities, as well as not using much water (if any at all) to help preserve the earth. It’s wonderful to see that ethical procedures are taking place within the current fashion world now and you can be a part of it.
Make/Alter Your Own
If you’re creative and none of those other options really sparked your interest, why not make your own? Much like the option above of finding a local seamstress or tailor, if you’re handy with the sewing machine and scissors yourself, what’s more ethical than making your own clothing? You obviously want to make sure the fabric you have chosen to buy at the shop is sourced properly and fairly as that’s a great way to start. I’ve made clothing of my own and you can easily DIY an old pair of jeans into new shorts or a skirt, or why not add fun things to older items to give it a new lease of life? There’s plenty of things you can do if you aren’t as skilled with a needle and thread, but if you are, once you’ve got your beautiful fabrics, the limit is only your imagination. Make what you want and wear it with pride! Happy shopping and sewing!