It’s getting increasingly difficult for many of us to pay into products that fall so far short of our principles – and fast fashion is one of the worst offenders – in a cultural context where no one would be seen dead without a reusable water bottle and vegetarianism is the buzzword du jour. With so much information available, we can no longer claim to be unaware of the influence our high-street garments have on the environment around us. However, it is easier said than done to try to make more ethical purchases.
When you really need a new pair of jeans to replace the old ones you’ve worn out or a professional-looking top for a job interview, or you’ve just fallen in love with the season’s hottest trend despite your best efforts, the vintage choice isn’t going to cut it. It takes time to shop in an ethical manner. Hours spent rummaging through charity shops and trying to imitate Pinterest DIYs may certainly be better spent elsewhere, but with so much conflicting information out there, it’s difficult to know where to shop safely. Here are some suggestions for where to purchase inexpensive ethical clothing in the United Kingdom.
1. Determine your top priorities
You’ll have a hard time finding a brand that is independently owned by a non-controversial CEO, one that values diversity and donates the majority of its profits to charity, all while manufacturing locally from organic fabrics hand-treated with natural dye, dedicated to being carbon neutral, and using only recycled materials for packaging.
The most crucial thing to figure out is what your primary priorities are: humanitarian issues, business ethics, sustainability, animal rights, inclusion, or something else different. It’s fine to prioritize the topics and have one or two on which you’re adamant, while others you’re willing to compromise on. Ensure to check out these corsets.
2. Don’t be misled by muddled words
Many of us will go to a brand’s website first, and a good rule of thumb is to rule out any company that does not highlight its supply chain, ethical, or sustainability credentials. Focusing on these areas comes at a cost for businesses, so they’ll want to brag about it. It’s probably for a reason that you can’t discover any information. When brands make hazy statements about being responsible without fully explaining what they mean, things get a little more tricky.
In these situations, it’s sometimes worth contacting the brands directly if there’s something specific you’d like to learn more about, such as their manufacturing method, packaging, or how many people on their board aren’t straight white guys. Using social media to contact them might often be the most expedient approach to receive the information you require. Stella McCartney prides herself on producing luxury wear that is both sustainable and fashionable.
3. Consider the price
This is not news that anyone wants to hear, but the truth is that being ethical is not inexpensive. If you buy a T-shirt for less than £5, it’s unlikely that the company is undercutting itself — the profit margin has to come from somewhere, and it’s most likely through paying really low wages for manufacturing labor or utilizing low-cost, non-sustainable materials. If the price appears to be too good to be true, it most likely is. At the same time, don’t think that a high price point, any more than quality, is an indicator of ethics. It’s always worth conducting more research, but a very low price can be a red flag.
4. Examine the materials
Fabric is critical if you want to ensure that your outfits are environmentally friendly. Organic cotton is one of the most popular choices among sustainable businesses, and while it is superior to synthetic alternatives, it still necessitates a significant quantity of water to produce. Fabrics like linen, hemp, silk, and even bamboo are far more environmentally friendly. Leather is a difficult material to work with.
From an animal rights standpoint, you may wish to avoid it, but some claim that it is less harmful to the environment than many “vegan” alternatives, which are produced from non-recyclable plastics derived from fossil fuels. Whenever possible, choose recycled leather, which is a byproduct of the livestock processing business. Natural dyes are always preferred because they do not contain many of the hazardous chemicals that may be extremely harmful to the environment and the workers who handle them. Ensure to check out these waist trainers.
5. Aim for the local market
There are some fantastic overseas labels that provide sustainable, ethical solutions, but if it’s being shipped halfway around the world, the carbon impact of each item will be enormous, especially if you plan to return any of it. Try to shop locally wherever possible. The jury is still out on whether having products delivered is more environmentally friendly than purchasing them yourself. But if you don’t have access to a car, buying something created locally is usually your best option.
Much of the legwork has already been done for you. With tools like Rank a Brand, aVoid, the Higg Index, Good On You, the Fashion Transparency Index, and the Environmental Working Group assessing big-name businesses based on well researched objective criteria. Always double-check if you’re unsure. Smaller firms may not have the resources to seek certification from organizations like Fairtrade or the Soil Association. So be aware that they may not be able to guarantee anything beyond their narrow remit.
6. Learn what CSRs are and how to use them
On their websites, most major brands will feature CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) rules. Be aware that a lot of this could be marketing nonsense. It’s fantastic if they’re “working toward” or “aiming to achieve” something, but they’re plainly not there yet. Similarly, following local labor laws isn’t a mark of honor. If they’re donating “a portion of their profits” to a charitable cause. Try to figure out how much that portion is. And if the products are “made locally,” make sure that includes the entire manufacturing process, not just the finishing touches.
Ethical Fashion seeks to address issues with the present fashion business. Such as exploitation of workers, environmental damage, the use of dangerous chemicals, waste, and animal cruelty.