A while ago I was asked for some 'ethical fashion advice' by a lovely reader on twitter, so I thought it was about time that I put together this post to hopefully answer some questions surrounding ethical fashion. This post is quite long, but there's a lot of information to share, so bear with me.
You can check out my 'ethical shopping guide' for a list of brands I consider to be the best for ethical fashion in the UK.
Depending on what's most important to you will depend on which companies you support. If, like me, you just want to support brands that are making an effort to creative positive change in the fashion industry, then you'll have plenty of choice. If you're specifically passionate about vegan, cruelty free clothing and animal right, then there will be smaller, more specific options for you. Same goes for human rights, sustainability, environmental impact, or political issues. EthicalConsumer.org is probably you're best bet for finding out who offers products specific to your needs. You simply click a guide, and then use the sliders to determine which categories are of most or least importance to you, and it scores the brands out of 20, so you know which is most likely to meet your needs.
EthicalConsumer.org is a good starting place, but it's never nice to start buying from someone, to then find out they're not as ethical as you think they are. Research companies individually and then you can determine case by case whether or not they're a company that you, personally, are happy about supporting. It's all about you, so don't be swayed by what others recommend, or criticize. You have to do the research and make the decisions yourself. Here are some other handy resources to get you started: Guardian Ethical Fashion Directory, Ethical Fashion Forum, Guardian Article on Ethical High Street Brands, Bangladesh Safety Accord Signatories, Clean Clothes Campaign, The Ethical Company Organisation
If you really can't afford the price tag, there are ways of buying ethically at low prices. Charity shops, vintage shops and thrift stores usually come with much lower prices. If you're not used to buying 'second hand' and the idea repels you, then you might be interested to know that some charity shops provide brand new clothing donated straight from High Street stores. The British Red Cross, for instance, has an 'Encore' initiative which sells brand-new factory seconds or surplus clothing from high street stores such as H&M. That way, you still get lovely NEW clothing, but at a much cheaper price, and you're helping out a charity.
If you read the article on ethical high street brands then you'll find that some high street shops are making steps to becoming more ethical - New Look have been accredited by the ethical company organisation, H&M have a 'Conscious Collection' promoting use of sustainable materials, and Topshop have a range of clothes 'Made In Britain' and their parent company has made promises to improve environmental impact company-wide. Supporting changes like this will hopefully encourage more brands to do the same, which would be a huge step in the right direction for the fashion industry. Only by demanding more ethical clothing and supporting ethical brands will we see an improvement. Several high street brands have signed the Bangladesh Safety Accord following the factory collapse last year, but I believe more still has to be done.
Like I said, check out my ethical shopping guide for more information, or leave a comment with any questions.
I hope this helped, have a great day.