the ultimate guide to eco-friendly ethical fashion and shopping
Is Nasty Gal ethical?If this is the kind of question you find yourself pondering on a lazy Sunday while in the Starbucks line, this post is for you.
This morning I opened my inbox to find subscription emails from NRDC, Greenpeace and Organic Consumers, only to discover that fast food joints like Subway are responsible for buying up imported Mexican fruit and veggies that are marked as fair trad, but in fact endanger the lives of the unethically treated Mexican farmers. Nothing like a boatload of lies from companies we trust our digestive tract with to start the morning off right. When we go shopping, whether it be in the real world at chain stores and boutiques, or from the comfort of our toilets in mumus huddled over our iPad, thumbs blazing, we rarely consider how the article of fashion that we are about to buy is made. From a piece of paper on a drawing board to the skillful stitching of an artisan, each article of clothing has been on its own adventure before it arrives in your closet. Or maybe you do think about this now controversial and blood boiling topic while shopping. You stop and realize it's less of a journey of art and more of a commercialized copycat commodity that is sewn up through child slavery.
Believe it or not, most of fashion is tarnished by unethical and downright atrocious practices somewhere down the line. Whether it’s the working conditions of the people who make the clothing like GAP was notoriously held accountable for throughout the early 2000's or the dumping practices of the company like H&M who is always seen throwing out pounds upon pounds of clothing on the sidewalks because of small defects, a high number of those in the apparel industry are negatively affecting both the environment and people’s lives. From the soil that cotton is grown, to the sheep that had to be shorn for the wool, or even the flowers that produce the natural pigments, the experience can be a toxin-filled excursion through mass production or a journey that has minimal impact on both the environment and the employees of the apparel manufacturing companies who feed our addiction to self expression.
This isn't a guide to propose you stop shopping all together. I did that all year and have finally landed at this point in my own personal journey. I overdosed on vintage, then became a thrift thrift hippie, then an eBay fanatic hoping that if its used Stella McCartney, it must make me a humanitarian by default. A year without shopping wasn't as difficult as it might seem, it simply took that long to shift my perspective and learn to stop being a hypocrite and endorser of fast fashion that lacks a soul. At the end of the day my closet meant absolutely nothing to me, and that had to change. Seeing as how it means a whole lot to the people that risk their life's well being. I had an "aha" moment where I noticed fewer, better things is what it's all about. Which is why I am obsessed with the French, and the Scandi's and we'll throw in the old school Brits too. A wardrobe and home should be a portfolio of long-term investments, not like a bucket of holiday candy where you walk around aimlessly tossing in any kind of shit since it's in arm's reach and everyone else does it. Not to say you can't indulge in quick needed basics, because guess what, there are brands that fill #basicbitch voids too. Thanks Everlane!!
Yet, not all of fashion is so satanic and immoral. But in the spirit of the holidays, let's start with a naughty list before moving to the nice. Some of our favorite brands utilize horrible practices to bring clothing to the markets. The following list contains some of the worst offenders that have violated human rights, manipulated labor laws, made use of child labor, and/or post an environmental threat. In addition, they are doing absolutely nothing to improve these unethical practices. But just because they are not doing anything, doesn’t mean that we have to take this laying down, we can hit these horrible corporations where it hurts the most, in the pockets: we must boycott them. Some shoppers believe boycotting does nothing. Screw that, it does. By replacing them with more eco-friendly and ethical brands as well as getting off our lazy asses and protesting for the change we want to see in the world. If this inspires you to throw your hands up and go hit up Forever21 instead, this isn't the blog for you. Good day. For the rest of you, I promise to keep this updated monthly since I am subscribed to all the news that goes on with these brands!
2014 fashion boycott list
1. Ugg Australia: Treats sheep unethically in the creation of their famous boots. Cruelty-free is nowhere in their vocabulary. If you like dogs and cats, don't be a f*cking hypocrite. Sheep are living creatures too. I battle with this myself daily as a non-vegan bombarded with gorgeous furry creations. #standforsomething
2. Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic: All of these companies are basically under the same umbrella and make use of child labor and/or sweatshops to produce clothing. Their clothes are bullshit and fit like a dirty rag anyway. Why would you even shop there as a grown adult anymore? They are the Walmart of fashion. If you're on a budget, comment or email me and I will personally find you alternatives.
3. Victoria’ Secret: The company that harvests their cotton uses child labor in Burkina Faso. They aid and support Israeli mobs allegedly. They are the epitome of unrealistic beauty standards. They sell dirty, unwashed, used panties to customers! Come the fuck on.
4. Primark: Workers are forced to work in unsafe conditions that can be hazardous to their health.
5. H&M: This company claims that being eco-friendly is the right way to be but, in actuality, lies about its ethical practices e.g. its use of organic cotton for clothing and dumping practices. Not much needs to be said here, we all know how rapidly this conglomerate is growing which in turn is leading to an unprecedented amount of textile waste.
6. Adidas: Workers are paid low wages because there is no minimum wage in the country that they are produced.
my personal endorsed fashion & shopping list
It can be tough hearing about unethical practices in beloved chain store company supply chains. Unsafe working conditions, human trafficking, and environmental degradations should all be issues that concern us. Thankfully, we can make a difference by becoming ethical consumers. This is not an easy job, it takes resolve and effort to make the conscious decision to buy ethically every day. For more help in choosing eco-friendly and ethical fashion brands, check out the following list where I also include the price points because there is nothing worse than getting excited about a new discovery only to find out they charge a gold brick for denim leggings:
They create urban-friendly pieces made out of organic cotton, recycled materials, and beautifully utilitarian materials with a quirky edge. $200+ish
All their clothing, from wedding dresses to lifestyle items, are made by talented artisans who live in or nearby to Florence, Alabama and create with organic and recycled materials. $100+ish
Produces fashion-forward clothing that is sewn in a factory in New York using fabrics like Japanese organic cotton, deadstock wool, and vegetable tanned leather. $500+ish
The antithesis to shops like Nasty Gal, they offer beautifully crafted American sportswear basics in sustainable fabrications. Break up with American Apparel and shop here from now on. $40+ish
Organic basics out of San Francisco, the land of everything good and progressive. If you claim to care about climate change and think organic is too expensive, go here and shut up. I tease, I tease. Keep talking. $30+ish
See my post and thoughts on this new fashion brand here. $10+ish
A multi-brand retail shop online only that is pretty much innovating the entire space. Becoming my new fave. $100+ish
If you can't give up trendy fashion following, this is the place to be. Great assortment of designer brands. $300+ish
All organic fashion line from my friend and tastemaking friend who knows everything about organic cotton. For the Cali-fool beach obsessed. $200+ish
See my post and thoughts here. Gorgeous handmade lingerie line out of Portland. $30+ish
The pioneers of fair trade and ethical fashion out of the UK. Like a do good Asos if you will. Minus the greenwashing. $75+ish
Cri de Coeur
Vegan line of bootiful shoes. Yeah mostly boots and stacked heel styles, but cruelty-free and fun. $200+ish
See my posts featuring some of their amazing clothes here. $200+ish
Another multi-designer online shop with serious fashion cred. A eco girl's NetAPorter if you will. $100+ish
Now go shop and put your money where your mind is, but don't forget to #standforsomething!!