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What you need to know about ethical fashion

Holly Wright is general manager at Wears Like New, a local consignment boutique. She specializes in fashion merchandising and styling. Holly will be We Are Kathy’s expert in fashion and what’s trending this season.

Ethical Fashion is something I see popping up more and more lately. What does it mean? How does it affect me? What can I do to be more conscious of what I am putting on my body? These are all important questions that I have been thinking about and doing some research on. I’m excited to share with you what I found.

First off let's talk about what it means. Ethical Fashion is an umbrella term to describe ethical fashion design, production, retail and purchasing. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment and animal welfare.

I will break it down a little bit for you. A lot of the companies we see on a normal basis are what the fashion industry call Fast Fashion companies which use cheaper material and low paid workers in the factories that produce their clothing. This means that the clothing is a cheaper price but at what cost? I am always looking for a deal when it comes to clothing because I don’t have lots of extra money to spend on clothes but all the new information coming out about the effect the fast fashion industry is making on the environment is scary. According to the World Resources Institute a garbage truck full of clothes is being sent to landfills every second! Here are some other stats for you.

  • Making a pair of jeans produces as much greenhouse gases as driving a car more than 80 miles.

  • Discarded clothing made of non-biodegradable fabrics can sit in landfills for up to 200 years.

  • It takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt, enough to meet the average person’s drinking needs for two and a half years.

Now that you know some of the stats, what can we do? The whole industry is changing and you are seeing more and more companies changing their practices to keep up with the demand of change. I want to go through some companies that are still affordable but conscious about their business practices.

Everlane | Modern Basics. Radical Transparency. This company is known for being open about where their clothing is made. They make men’s and women’s timeless pieces that can be used for a long time at a very affordable price. I have found some Everlane items popping up on resale sites and stores as well!

Kotn: Quality essentials. Ethically made. Honestly priced. Finding a brand that has basics is so important. This company makes their tees from breathable Egyptian cotton. Finding brands that use quality materials also helps the items last longer which is a great way to help keep clothing out of landfills.

Amanda is pictured wearing a shirt from H&M's "conscious" line. Photo by Jen Veloso

Alternative Apparel: Men's and Women's Apparel Basics | Soft Simple … This company makes great lounge wear! Who doesn’t like to be comfy?

Fashion and quality clothing at the best price | H&M GB I am going to include H&M on this list as well for a couple of reasons. They are considered a fast fashion brand but they do offer a “conscious” line that uses better recycled materials. You can also recycle old clothing for a small discount on buying something new.

Wears Like New Consignment Shop | Flint, MI | Wears Like New I can’t write this article without mentioning Wears Like New! No matter what buying clothes second hand is the best way to prolong the life of clothing and to help the environment. Plus it is the best way to be able to shop for higher end brands at a fraction of the price. Some other popular resale apps and websites are included below:

This company has fashionable shoes that are made out of repurposed material and can be washed. This makes them long lasting and a great staple to add to your footwear collection.

Lastly I wanted to give you some points to look for when doing your own research on ethical fashion brands. Look at where the factories are located that produce their products and how transparent the company is with this information. Another thing you can look for is what material the company is using to produce their product. Last you can see what kind of things the company is doing to help the environment.

Do you like ethical fashion as much as we do? Share your favorite brands! Feel free to drop some photos on our social to show off your ethical style!

Check out Holly's last post about how to make popular fashion pieces fit your style.

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