A Resource Guide to Launch Your Ethical Fashion Journey
Dressember is slowly winding down, and now it’s time to start thinking about ways to bring ethical fashion awareness into your everyday wardrobe. While the dress shopping process can be an exciting time, it is important to make the right decision when purchasing clothing. Throughout the month of December (and life in general), we should be representing ethical brands that provide their workers with ethical working conditions. The fashion industry has a highly complex supply chain and because of that, it is easier for manufacturers and suppliers to get away with unethical practices. In this post, I will discuss a few tips and tricks on how to shop ethical and honest brands.
Buying dresses from Dressember itself is a great way to start. Shopping the different products online has quite a few perks. First, Dressember allows the designers of the dresses to introduce themselves and talk a little bit about their product. They offer many styling tips and different ways to wear the dress that they designed. The dresses are surprisingly versatile and can be dressed up, dressed down and worn in warm or cold weather. Second, the dresses are sewn and stitched at the Elegantees sewing center in Nepal. Elegantees provides ethical jobs for women and survivors of human trafficking. They also have a clothing line that includes handmade dresses along with all different types of clothing pieces. Dressember also partnered this year with Sseko Designs to create a collection of shawls and kaftans ethically made in Uganda.
Research the companies you are buying your clothing from. Some of our favorite brands might not be so ethical when it comes to their supply chain, so it is important to know what types of conditions their products are made in. If information about their suppliers and manufacturers are not disclosed, then that’s most likely a red flag indicating their supply chain is unethical. This can seem a little intimidating and time consuming, but there are many websites and apps that can help condense the search into just a few simple clicks. My personal favorite app to use is Good On You. All you need to do is type in a brand name that you like and it will give you all of the information they have and rank the company accordingly. Brands are ranked based off of their effect on people, the environment and animals. If a brand that you like is ranked poorly, they offer alternative brands of similar style that meet their ethical standards. You can also research brands using the DoneGood browser extension. This website helps you discover brands that are environmentally and socially responsible. They have brands ranging from clothing to household essentials. Using these resources can open up your eyes to all types of different companies that put in genuine effort to make the retail industry ethical.
Second-hand shopping is another way to make sure your money is not going towards an irresponsible company. Second-hand shopping is a great way to save money, but it also reduces the demand for clothing which means you are not contributing to companies using unethical practices. Shopping at Value Village and Goodwill is a good place to start. Recently I have tried out second-hand apps including Poshmark and thredUp, where you can easily search the types of clothing you are looking for.
Throughout my search for ethical brands, I have recently found some companies that I have especially appreciated. The first one is an organization that makes jewelry called the Starfish Project. This brand employs exploited women and provides them with vocational training, healthcare, shelter and more. I have ordered a few pieces of jewelry from them, both for myself and as gifts, and they always come with a handwritten note from the woman who made my piece of jewelry. It is the sweetest thing! Another brand that I have recently found is Mata Traders. This brand employs artisans of India and Nepal and all of the clothing and accessories are made by hand. Their styles are trendy yet unique and I have ordered jewelry, dresses, and skirts from there and have never been disappointed!
We don’t really understand the impact that we are making in our everyday lives and it can be so much easier to just look the other way and buy whatever is convenient and/or cheap. However, our actions do matter and people are affected by our decisions. Choosing to shop ethically is an impactful choice that makes a difference in many lives beyond just our own. It is important to understand the pros and cons of where we are putting our money. Being able to see the long-term benefits of shopping ethical brands will benefit many lives all over the world; all while creating a lifestyle that you are proud to live.
It is not too late to be a part of the impact!
Right now, thousands of people around the world are taking on the creative challenge of wearing a dress or tie in the month of December. The reason? To bring freedom to the 40+ million around the world still trapped in slavery. Your donation or participation in Dressember 2018 is part of a movement to end human trafficking for good.
About the Author
Olivia Kyles is a Junior at Northern Arizona University pursuing a degree in Marketing, with a minor in Spanish. She finds her peace in helping others, and is so excited to be working with Dressember helping to fight against modern day slavery. She loves to run, has a passion for animals and is obsessed with literature and movies based off of the roaring 20s!