Are you looking to make the leap from being a fast fashion fan to an ethical consumer? Well, we’ve got you covered! But first, here’s the difference: fast fashion is inexpensive clothing produced very quickly by mass-market retailers in answer to the latest trends. On the other hand, slow fashion is all about manufacturing clothing that is respectful of people, the environment, and animals.
Ready to begin? In this article, we’ll tackle a guide to building your ethical fashion wardrobe, examples of ethical fashion brands, and the importance of taking your time with this transition.
Build Your Ethical Fashion Wardrobe
Clothes are key to how we express ourselves. Don’t worry; shopping ethically doesn’t mean you can’t be creative with your clothing. Here’s a quick guide to keeping your wardrobe stylish and sustainable:
- Go through your existing clothes and identify which ones aren't ethically manufactured. You don't have to throw them out though! Just choose to donate them or use them until they get worn out. While you do, take note of the brands and do your best not to buy from them again.
- Decide your style. Is your aesthetic elegant, preppy, sporty, or grungy? Or maybe, you like the vintage or boho look. Deciding your style will streamline your focus when you're shopping.
- Start with the basics. Any good wardrobe starts from a foundation of basic tees, jeans, coats, and sweaters. Investing in well-made sustainable basics means that they will last for a long time. Basics are the items we wear the most, and getting quality ones means they won’t get stretched out or shrink whenever they’re in the wash.
- Stick with a color scheme. This is an excellent tip for anyone who wants a smaller wardrobe or doesn’t want to blow all their money in one go. Keeping your clothes to a few set colors means that you can match all your pieces with each other. Plus, you won't have to worry about clashing colors.
- Learn to sew. Learning how to darn little tears and holes in your clothes is key to being a sustainable shopper. It means that your clothes will have a much longer life and let’s face it, you have a handy new skill.
- Thrift stores are your friend. Due to the nature of production, sustainable clothing is more expensive. However, not every piece you purchase has to be fresh off the rack. Thrift shopping gives clothes a second or even third life. Going through thrift stores can reveal vintage pieces for a fraction of the cost. Thrifting is a fantastic way to add color and cool pieces to your wardrobe once you've sorted out the basics. You can mix and match it with your ethical wardrobe.
- Get used to a lesser volume. Ethical shopping means lesser quantity but higher quality. Your wardrobe will be smaller, but that means less, "What do I wear?" moments.
Follow this map, and you’ll have a brand new, ethically-sourced wardrobe in no time. In time, you'll figure out which stores work best for you in terms of selection, price, and sizing.
Brands that Manufacture Clothing Ethically
Finding a shop that produces clothes sustainably can be tricky. Not everyone does what they claim. Here are some questions to consider when looking up shops:
- What is their process? Is it slow and sustainable for all involved in the creative process or for just pockets of people?
- How transparent are they with manufacturing? Do they willingly share where their clothes and materials come from?
- How often are new collections released? Does the release coincide with the amount of time they claim to take?
But like we’ve said earlier, we’ve got you covered! The four brands listed below are great resources when you start your ethical shopping journey, especially if you’re in a pinch. As you go along, you should be able to find more ethical stores along the way. So to kick things off, here is a list of shops that we’ve already vetted:
- Kuyichi - Based in the Netherlands, Kuyichi has been around since 2000 and deals primarily with denim, offering jeans in every cut and color for both men and women. Kuyichi products are made from organic, recycled materials, by people who are paid and treated fairly. With these pure goods, they strive for true sustainability. Find out more about Kuyichi.
- People Tree - People Tree is the pioneer of sustainable and conscious fashion. Headquartered in London, People Tree was started in 2001 to cater to the wide range of women’s needs. From skincare to underwear to clothing and even jewelry, you’ll be able to find most of what you need online. People Tree will also have you covered for almost any event. Find out more about People Tree
- Armedangels - Based in Germany, this brand offers all the essentials for both males and females. Here, you will find knitwear, outerwear, and other basics. Organic is not just a trend for Armedangels, it’s their belief and taking responsibility and protecting our environment is not an option but a must. Find out more about Armedangels
- Return to Sender - In 2006 Katja Schuurman founded Return to Sender to promote employment for women in developing countries. In this way they earn their own money and get more control over their lives. Return to Sender develops a wide variety of handmade lifestyle products, inspired by the local techniques and materials from the country, combined with Dutch designer's knowledge of colors and shapes. You get a uniquely designed product, they get a beautiful life. Find out more about Return to Sender
Give Yourself Time
Making a complete change like this is going to take time. Going on this journey is brave and worth it, but that doesn't mean it will be smooth. Give yourself the time to learn about ethical fashion and discover new brands. Initially, you may miss the convenience of the stores you used to shop at or the less expensive clothes.
But these feelings will fade, especially when you know that everything you put on your body was made without harming people, animals, or the environment. Adjusting to this lifestyle can be easier if you subscribe to an ethical fashion newsletter or follow social media accounts of sustainable fashionistas. Getting tips and tricks from companies like Planet Hugs whose mission is to help Mother Earth to protect itself from the damages of the fast fashion industry and mass consumption by providing consumers with carefully selected beautiful products, produced with good intentions will help you stay strong on your journey.
Happy (ethical) shopping!
Let’s not forget; there is no Planet B! So, let’s take care of her!
Eda Dumoulin Akin