Whether you shop locally or purchase your clothing through large retailers, you are intertwined within the world of fashion. However, are you consciously thinking about the ethics behind those companies or are you blindly clicking that ever-so-tempting ‘Buy Now’ button? Fast fashion companies essentially replicate high-end fashion designs, mass produce them at a low cost and have extremely high inventory turnover rates with new merchandise constantly streaming in.
Clothing companies that choose to provide consumers with misinformation regarding their environmental impact, otherwise known as greenwashing, do so in order to protect themselves and their profits. Not only is this fast paced production detrimental to the environment, many of the companies involved are practicing unethical procedures. Some of these unethical and unsustainable companies include: Amazon, Zara, Nike, Uniqlo, H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Fashion Nova, Forever 21, Pretty Little Thing, Shein, Topshop, Urban Outfitters, Missguided, Romwe, ASOS, Boohoo, and the list goes on. The majority of the companies listed pay their workers illegally low wages and do not provide them with safe working conditions.
For some perspective, it takes major fashion CEO’s four days to earn what a Bangladeshi female garment worker will earn in her entire lifetime. Fortunately, there are many ways to avoid contributing to the messiness of fast fashion. Buying second-hand clothing is a beautiful method of utilizing our ability to reuse and reduce. Visiting local thrift stores fits the criteria and for your convenience, there are many second-hand shopping apps such as Depop, Poshmark, or ThredUp. There are also countless smaller businesses that work towards producing sustainable clothing and strive to operate in an ethical manner.
If you’re questioning a brand’s ethics, read about them on their ‘About’ page or visit Good on You, a website that rates fashion companies based on their ethics and environmental care. Sezane, Tradlands, Levi’s, Indigenous, People Tree, Patagonia, Reformation, Alternative Apparel, Girlfriend Collective, and Nube are perfect examples of planet-friendly and people-friendly clothing brands. Clothing tells a story and allows us to express ourselves so let’s choose to feel proud of what we wear on our bodies. As Vivienne Westwood once said, “Buy less, choose well, and make it last.”
Leave a comment to share your favorite sustainable and/or ethical brand and why!
Words / Kalleigh Kress
Graphic Design / Sarah Westholm