In Part Four of our Slow Fashion series, we will be highlighting some brands that operate with an ethical model, so that you can choose to spend your hard earned money with companies that are making ethical choices. Again, I am not an advocate of saying that every single item you purchase should be from an ethical brand (although perhaps in a perfect world, that would be ideal), but I firmly believe even if you choose to make one purchase a year from one of these brands (or other similar ones), instead of a Fast Fashion retailer, you will still be making a difference. Every purchase counts.
First off, we have Everlane. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the US based brand, and I think they are a fantastic, reasonably priced label. Everlane prides themselves on “Radical Transparency”, which, to use their words, means they “believe our customers have a right to know how much their clothes cost to make. We reveal the true costs behind all of our products—from materials to labor to transportation—then offer them to you, minus the traditional retail markup.” Their website is full of information on everything from the factories they use, to manufacturing methods, and fabric information. They also have a very detailed size chart, which is incredibly helpful when ordering online. And, they offer free international shipping (yay for us Canadians!) on orders over $100. I have to admit, I don’t own anything from this brand, but am seriously considering ordering their Wide Leg Crop pant, which seems to be one of their most popular (and sometimes most hated) items. But take a look at their website if you haven’t already; they’ve got great styling on some high quality, ethical basics, so I think they’re a top choice.
Next up is ABLE. They are another US based brand, who, according to their website, is “a lifestyle brand focused on ending generational poverty through providing economic opportunity for women.” You can read all about them on the “About” section of their website, but they seem to be really making a difference. They’re a touch more expensive than Everlane, but I would say still in the realm of reasonable, and they also have a wide product range, including shoes, bags and jewelry. I particularly like their Candela Utility Dress (I’m a sucker for anything midi length), and their Iris Hoops.
Next on the list is UK brand, People Tree, which has been around since 1991. For over 27 years, People Tree has partnered with Fair Trade producers, garment workers, artisans and farmers in the developing world to produce ethical and eco fashion collections. Fair Trade is about creating a new way of doing business; creating access to markets and opportunities for people who live in the developing world. They’re a little more expensive than the previous two brands, but I find their range much more interesting, as they branch out beyond wardrobe basics, and offer some more uniqeu pieces. I absolutely love their Karen Dress (again with the midi length), and their April Tunic, which is 100% organic cotton, and also on sale at the moment. They have a pretty broad range, which includes accessories, footwear, and an underwear collection, which has a few super cute high waisted underwear styles (love!)
Kotn may be the best priced brand out of the bunch, and they are another US label who makes quality essentials, ethically made from authentic Egyptian cotton. They’re another brand that specializes in more basic items, but they’ve really done a great job with fabrics and colors. Their Fitted Turtleneck is the kind of basic that is essential for layering, and will never go out of style, and of course I love their Longsleeve Dress, which is only $50 USD (what?!). So even with the current exchange rate with Canada, they’re a pretty great option.
For the last brand on the list, I’m actually going to mention the H&M Conscious collection. Yes, I know that H&M is a Fast Fashion retailer, but it really seems as though they are trying to make a difference with their Conscious collection. According to the head of Sustainability with H&M, they “have three significant future facing goals that we are working on, which are: By 2020, all of the cotton that H&M uses will come from more sustainable sources. We are one of the biggest users of organic cotton and recycled cotton and we are the biggest buyer of Better Cotton. By 2030, all of the products that H&M makes will come from more sustainable or recycled sources. We are one the biggest users of recycled polyester and in this year’s Conscious Exclusive collection we use Econyl which is 100% regenerated nylon fiber made from fishnets and other nylon waste. By 2040, H&M will be climate positive across its entire value chain. A truly circular business model can only be powered by renewable energy. Today we are at 96%.” So while it’s possible that this is just lip service to the cause, it really does seem like they are trying to make a difference. So even if you’re still shopping at the mall, and getting your Fast Fashion fix, take a look at their Conscious collection next time you’re there. Another dollar spent on that collection lets them know that we, as consumers, truly do care, and are making our voices heard with our dollar.
This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of ethical brands, as there are so many great ones out there. But hopefully this will help you begin your search for more conscious clothing brands, and start fuelling your desire to learn more. Information is power!
And with that, we conclude our Slow Fashion Blog Series. Thanks so much to everyone for reading, and we have a bunch of new blog posts coming up, so make sure to check back often!