20 Apr Ethical Clothing BrandsReading Time: 8 minutes
Ethical Clothing Brands
Ethical clothing is clothing that is produced with a moral standard. A brands ethics relate to the people involved, sometimes animals that are tested on or used in production, and always the environment. A brand acts with ethics if they are paying their employees fairly, cruelty-free towards animals and not harming the environment. These may sound like general social standards that we can all agree on but unfortunately that’s not all the case when it comes to the reality of the fashion industry and most large labels do not meet these ethical standards. By learning what makes a brand ethical you can seek out alternatives to fast fashion and support a future where ethical clothing becomes a normal social standard and ethical brands have the chance to thrive.
We buy clothes, all the time and a lot of the time we don’t think about where they come from or how they are produced, but the impact of our purchases effects a lot of people, often animals, and always our environment as a whole. Ethics are seeping into the fashion industry and it is more important than ever to support labels that are making their clothing ethically. The good news is there are plenty of conscious alternatives and will a basic understanding of what makes a brand ethical you can make a more educated decision about what label you want to support.
Why Is Buying Ethical Clothing Important
In a lot of ways our world isn’t very fair and as consumers we have the power to change that. The brands you buy from are a choice about the world you want to create. Every individual has the power and responsibility to make small change and one by one these changes have an effect on the whole. The fashion industry is the 5th biggest industry in the world and it has a huge global impact, economically, socially and environmentally. A lot of the fashion industry is unethical both in the treatment of the employees and in the effect on the environment, and if we are going to move forward in more ethical and sustainable direction something has to change.
Defining Ethical Clothing
As mentioned above: A clothing brand is ethical if it is not harming the environment, is cruelty-free towards animals and fairly treats all employees involved in the production process.
This seem like simple criteria but it’s important to keep them in mind as a lot of big brands don’t meet these standards. A better understanding of what makes a brand ethical will allow you to distinguish between the two and look for these labels that do.
Ethically Produced Clothes
Ethical clothing production encompasses the materials, people and processes involved in the production of a piece of clothing. It means that the people involved are paid a living wage, the working conditions are reasonable and output of chemicals or water usage is not impacting local communities. From the farmers who grow the fabrics to the factory workers who create the garments there are a lot of individuals involved in the production of a piece of clothing and it’s important to know that thy are not being taken advantage of due to lack of conscious.
Ethical fashion labels are 100% honest about the working conditions of their employees. Clothing is often produced in developing countries where the costs are lower and there is a high demand for jobs. The problem are the conditions of supply-train workers which are often unethical and even unhealthy . Many countries don’t have a livable minimum wage and families are forced to work in the face of illness out of necessity, without access to medicine or money to buy it. Cotton farming and over use of resources in general drains the water supply in local communities. There are often toxic chemicals used in clothing dyes, making workers vulnerable to illness such as cancer and respiratory disease. And over-production causes these same chemicals to pollute the water supply of the local factory workers. There are also often pesticides used fabric production such as that of cotton that are both harmful to the workers and the environment.
Truly Ethical Brands
A brand can also advertise or appear as externally ethical but investigating a little deeper will give you insights. A truly ethical brand will be completely open about their production process. Where the materials are produced, why they are more sustainable to the more commonly used fast fashion materials and how their company is positively impacting the local communities of their employees. Checking their social media or contacting the brand directly are also good ways to question their transparency. Ethical trade certificates are also a good guarantee that a brand is actually following through. The Ethical Trading Initiative and Fashion Revolution are two great resources and there are lots of other ethical fashion certifiers out there.
Vegan & Ethical Clothing
Vegan and cruelty-free fashion takes into account the inhuman treatment of animals in the fashion industry. Like us, animals are sentiment being with the awareness to feel what is happening to them. It is one thing to use animal produces with sensitivity and ethics but in te the general fashion industry this is not the case. Animals are kept in inhumane conditions, exposed to great deals of pain, and used for their furs or skin.
Vegan fashion does not use animal products in it’s garments. Leather is a fashion item that we could really do without. Leather production goes hand in hand with the meat industry as weak or sick cattle are often used for to turn into leather. Calves or lambs are also specifically farmed for their more valuable skin. The production of leather is also requires a lot of toxic chemicals that have a negative effect on the environment. There are more and more innovate leather alternatives, I’ll link some brands below.
Animals such as sheep and rabbits are often farmed for their wool or fur to turn into yarn fir knitwear and the conditions that these animals are kept in do not meet any ethical standards. The fur industry farms animals in inhumane conditions and employees techniques to trap wild animals, further endangering already vulnerable species. Farming materials such as cotton takes a lot of land destroying forests to make room for farms and destroying the habitats of countless species of wild animals.
Cruelty-Free Ethical Brands
Cruelty-free encompasses animals hurt or harmed in the production process. The terms is more commonly used in the beauty industry where makeup products are often tested on animals, but it’s relevant to clothing production as well. Cruelty-free clothing means that there were no animal byproducts used in the production of a piece of garment and although this is a small distinction it’s important to be aware of as a label can advertise as “vegan” but still may use animal products in it’s production.
Sustainably Ethical Clothing Brands
The fashion industry is the second biggest cause of global pollution, right after oil and gas. The crazy part is that this mount of environmental impact is completely unnecessary. And with a different mindset and production method the clothes we buy don’t have to harm the environment.
What Are Ethical & Sustainable Clothing Brands
Sustainable clothing or eco-fashion are brands that are not polluting the environment or draining natural resources.
Over use of water and pesticides are two of the biggest ways that the clothing industry is not sustainable. “The production of a single cotton t-shirt typically requires 2,700 litres of water” (Vildnis ). The cotton industry as a whole accounts for 16 percent of global pesticide use and the toxins used in the production process enter into our rivers, damaging natural ecosystems and polluting the drinking water of people and animals alike. Experts predict that water use in the fashion industry will lead to a water scarcity in the next 20-30 years. Although these statistics can feel daunting they are simply a reminder that something needs to change.
Right now there is a big shift towards more sustainable alternatives and there are ethical brands that are making clothing without harming the environment. Brands who are choosing more sustainable materials such as bamboo, hemp and linen. Chemical-free production processes that take less water and don’t pollute our natural resources.
How to Choose Sustainably Made Clothing
A basic understanding of what makes a brand sustainable will help you choose brands who are acting with ethics. The good thing is that there are more and more alternatives on the market and supporting these labels will have an impact on the industry as a whole.
Organic Ethical Fashion
Organic fashion or garments made from materials that are grown and produced with natural materials. If clothing is organic it is a good guarantee that there weren’t any harmful pesticides used in it’s production.
Ethically Made Clothing Online
I wanted to end the post with a few of my favorite ethical brands to get you started. You can browse and order from any of them online and although I do have to say that local shopping is always better, their packaging is as sustainable as possible.
Ethical Women’s Fashion
Ethical Yoga Clothes
Studio Kolektif is one of my favorite ethical yoga-wear labels. Based out of Sweden all of their clothing is produced in Bali using sustainable fabrics and environmentally conscious production processes.
Bohemian Ethical Clothes
Odd Molly beautiful bohemian fashion. Long lasting clothes, ethically produced made from sustainable fibers.
Ethical Workout Wear
Groceries Apparel offers activewear, loungewear and closet essentials. California based slow fashion label with an inspiring manifesto and unwavering ethics throughout their garments production, distribution and entire life span.
Organic Basics offers ethically made underwear and loungewear. Comfortable and quality with a minimal natural design. Everything they make is centered around sustainability.
Choosing Ethical Clothing Brands
To sum it up, a brand is ethical if they are not harming animals, the environment and the people involved in the clothing’s production. Look for brands that are transparent about their production process. Certified organic, ethical, sustainable or cruelty-free; and distributing their products with the lowest environmental impact.
There’s not one golden rule to choosing ethical brands but looking out for any of these qualities is a step in the right direction and enough individuals taking this initiative will have a great impact on the fashion industry as a whole.
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