There was a time in the not-so-distant past when we didn’t really know or care how our clothes were made. They simply appeared on hangers in shops, ready to be bought and taken home. But as we’ve grown as a society and learnt more about the practices of fast fashion, many people have made the choice to step away from this type of buying, and instead, take a real interest in how their clothes are made and the impact they’re having on the world by buying them.
Last month we talked about ethical fashion – how it differs from Fairtrade fashion to what exactly it means to be ‘ethical’. Which is all well and good, but it’s somewhat difficult to take all that information and make real-world decisions with it. Often it’s quite difficult to tell if a product is ethically made or not, which is why so many people don’t both trying to find out. So this month we wanted to share with you some of the tools available that can tell you if your clothes are made ethically, and hopefully help you make more ethical fashion decisions.
The first port of call for any purchasing decision should be the brand’s website. Many fashion brands now are looking to promote their ‘green’ credentials, showcasing how ethical their production proves to be. The problem is, it can be difficult to tell what’s true, and what’s just marketing departments’ greenwashing. But one of the things we’ve found is that truly ethical brands will be happy to show customers:
- Where and how their clothes were made
- Where raw materials were sourced
- Chemical treatments in their products
- Garment production processes
- Their waste management policies
- The end of life cycle for their garments
Not all fashion brands and retailers will be willing to share all of this information with you, and if they show none it’s a red flag. But if they show some, then it gives you a good place to start.
Good On You
Good On You is a fashion directory website dedicated to rating fashion brands on how ethical their clothing and practices are. They bring together the world’s leading and most reliable sources of information on sustainability, apply it to brands big and small. Their rating system is easy to understand and incredibly transparent about the sources they use to create the ratings. Their system goes from ‘we avoid’ to ‘not good enough’, up to ‘it’s a start’, ‘good’ and ending with their highest rating of ‘great’, so it’s easy to see what you’re buying.
The key issues they rate brands on include:
All of which help build a picture of just how sustainable and ethical a brands practices are. They’ve rated thousands of brands and are adding more every day.
This might be one of the oldest sources of information for ethical fashion, as they have been in business since 1989! The Ethical Consumer website (and their magazine) and an independent, not-for-profit co-operative company dedicated to sustainability and ethical consumerism. They offer ratings on all sorts of products to help you find out how ethical they are, as well as providing news, campaigns and information about doing more good and less harm in the world. Their motto is ‘ethical made easy’, and their simple-to-use website gives you all the tools you need to make ethical purchasing decisions across the board.
If you prefer to shop online, it can be impossible to figure out if products are ethical or not, particularly because you can’t check labels there and then. That’s why we threw aVOID on this list. It’s a plug-in for your internet browser that can tell you whether products are associated with child labour while you shop. It works with most major shops, including Asos and Amazon, and catalogues information for the UK, France, Germany and the UK. It’s a simple step, but it can be an incredibly useful first step for your ethical fashion journey.
For a long time, people have avoided buying ethical or Fairtrade, not because they don’t agree with it, but because it presented such a huge challenge that it just didn’t work with their modern lifestyles. But now that we have apps just a few taps away on our phones, and a huge range of tools at our disposal, it’s easier than ever to shop more ethically across the board. If you’d like to know more about shopping ethical, or have questions about where our products come from, we would love to hear from you. Just get in touch with the team today for your free consultation.