Ethical fashion is a multi-faceted term, and it can mean different things to different people. What does it mean for you?
Every purchase we make sends a message. Whether we’re talking ethical fashion, sustainable food, or any other area of our lives that we spend money on, every dollar we spend is a vote. When you give a company your money, you’re telling them that you agree with the way that they’re running their business. Your wallet has the power to effect positive change.
For me, fashion purchases have to hit three areas, and I would love to hear about what matters to you when you’re voting with your wallet! Here are my big three when it comes to ethical fashion:
1. Ethical fashion has to be good for the people who produce it.
For me, that means taking human rights and worker health into consideration all along the supply chain. This of course means avoiding clothing produced in sweat shops, but for me it goes further. It also means choosing clothing and accessories made from ethically-produced fabrics. For me, that means avoiding conventional cotton whenever I can in favor of more people-friendly fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, linen, and even soy and bamboo.
2. Ethical fashion has to be good for the planet.
I don’t mean to harp on conventional cotton, but it’s a great example of a material that’s terrible for the planet. It uses a shocking amount of pesticides and water to grow, which is terrible for the surrounding ecosystems. Dye processes are another example of an area where clothing can be bad for the planet.
3. Ethical fashion has to be kind to animals.
This is one where I’m betting not everyone agrees with me, but I don’t consider clothing or accessories ethical if their production exploits animals in any way. That means no leather, of course, but also no wool, snake skin, alligator, silk, or cashmere. Of course, that also means choosing beauty supplies that don’t contain animal products and are not tested on animals either.
Ethical Fashion: The Good News
Those are some strict rules, and I will admit that I break rules one and two from time to time, because it can be hard to find brands that get all three of these right. Do you guys ever buy things that don’t necessarily hit all of your criteria for ethical clothing or accessories?
The really good news is that there are brands out there getting it right. Companies like Lur Apparel who I wrote about back in September are making ethical, beautiful clothing that you can feel good about. My friend Ashlee did a great roundup of fall fashion that’s good for the planet, people, and animals that I highly recommend checking out, too, whether animal rights are part of your ethical shopping criteria or not. They’re just plain gorgeous!
My main source for clothing and accessories that meet all three of my rules, though, is the good old thrift store. Second hand clothing may have had a hefty impact when it was first produced, but by buying thrift store or vintage clothing, you’re helping to create a market for clothing that someone else no longer wants and might otherwise have ended up in the landfill. That’s a win for the planet, for people, and for animals!
This list is personal to me – it encompasses the issues that are close to my heart. What does ethical fashion mean to you? Let’s talk about what’s important to you!
Image Credit: Runway photo via Shutterstock