My first ever consciously ethical clothing purchase was a pair of running shorts and a maroon sweater from my friend and fellow heptathlete, Becky. She and her friends had decided to sell all of their unethically made clothes and use the money to purchase only ethically-made clothes. It was their own social experiment called the Lighten Project (which I mentioned in my ‘Clothing’ introduction post). Becky’s decision inspired me to know who made my clothes and were they treated fairly.
I learned that there are over 40 million slaves globally. That’s more than there ever has been before, even during the days of the Atlantic slave trade! “Human trafficking generates $150B annually.”* And much of human trafficking is in the supply chains and factories where our clothes are made. While I never purposely contributed to human trafficking, I quickly realized that my purchases were supporting these companies and the enslavement of people. How could I support that?
So I started looking for brands and clothes that were ethically-conscious. I quickly learned that they tend to be more expensive, but I knew that the people who made them were being treated and paid fairly. To me, it’s worth it. I also quickly learned to buy less!
Check out my clothing guide for some of my favorite brands:
1. Jeans and Pants
One of the hardest things for me to switch over has been jeans, but I really love Prana’s London Jeans. They have the same slim fit that I was used to with American Eagle’s jeans. Their jeans also come in short, regular, and long! The material is very comfortable and stretchy.
I also bought a couple pairs of their other pants for work. I’m a kindergarten teacher so I need to be able to move around, be comfortable, but also look cute and professional. I tried Prana’s Brenna Pant and their Carlotta Crop. I LOVE them both!
Some of their pants are very “outdoorsy,” but many of them are perfect for every day AND you could wear them on your next hiking adventure.
What’s more??? Their clothes are bluesign®Certified (good for the earth), Fair Trade Certified, and they use organic cotton, recycled wool, and recycled down in their products.
This is an especially great stop for jeans. They have a wide variety of cuts, styles, and washes. High rise, low rise, straight, skinny, light wash, dark wash, and everything in between- they have it!
Their clothing is great quality and made to last. Plus, its very reasonably priced. They boast ethical factories and radical transparency.
If you are looking for anything denim, they have it all. I don’t own any of their jeans, but I have heard a lot about them.
They are a locally owned business in Los Angeles, started by a father and a daughter. So cute! If you like designer jeans, this is the place for you. Just know, their prices are closer to designer prices too.
This shop whisks you away to the streets of Paris! The few tops I own from Amour Vert are my fancier, nicer tops. I really love the fabrics and prints that they offer. I always shop their sales, and I have been able to find some really unique and cute pieces.
They offer sustainable fashion that is made in the USA. As a bonus, for every shirt sale, they plant a tree! This brand may not be your style, but it is perfectly mine!
Krochet Kids’ Tees are so soft and are signed by the person who made them. This personal touch fills me with joy when I see it and it makes me feel like I am wearing a piece of unique piece of art. Their prices are very reasonable too!
Krochet Kids employs women and work to break people out of the cycle of poverty. You can even visit their website and learn about the woman who made your exact item of clothing. You can write her a note of thanks or encouragement. How awesome!
I have a couple basic v-necks from Prana, and I love how soft and modest they are. They have a little pocket, which I love. And the v-neck is not too low!
Their clothes are bluesign®Certified (good for the earth), Fair Trade Certified, and they use organic cotton, recycled wool, and recycled down in their products.
Amour Vert is the place to go for fancier dresses and adorable jumpsuits! I have been eyeing several dresses on their websites that would be perfect for all the weddings I am going to. They offer dresses that are more than just the basics.
The fabric is well-made and the prints are both cute and classy. Again, they offer sustainable fashion that is made in the USA.
The cotton dresses from Fair Indigo are perfect for your everyday classic simplicity. I think a few of them are even party-worthy. I don’t own a dress from them yet (remember, I am trying to buy less), but they have so many different styles that you are bound to find what you are looking for.
They advertise sustainable styles and are Green America Approved (which promotes ethical consumerism for both people and the planet). You can also shop based on your values, whether that’s organic, fair trade, or USA-made.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of a good thrift store. I finally found a really great one near my house, and I’m so excited! I found a couple great dresses the last time I went, and I have been really enjoying them. I am very hesitant to get bras or swimsuits at a thrift store (I’m pretty sure I’m not alone), but you can find some great dresses if you look hard enough.
(Prana and Krochet Kids also have nice dresses)
4. Basics and Underwear
This is my stop for my underwear, camis, socks, and other basics. Their cotton is organic and Fair Trade Certified. They are very reasonably priced and they give away free socks! Who doesn’t like FREE SOCKS?!
They have an eclectic assortment of bras and underwear. This is where you would find the pretty, lacy, and, dare I say, sexy, bras that some other “basics” companies don’t have. They also have some beautiful and elegant matching sets. I bought one of their bras for a lingerie shower, and my friend really liked it.
What’s even better? Their company is eco-conscious, ethically conscious, and empower women by employing women in the slums of Colombia to make lingerie bags that are included in
each purchase. They primarily hire single mothers and head-of-household women to work in their garment factories and make sure they are paid well and given benefits.
Wondering about activewear, swimwear, and shoes? To avoid a super long post, stay tuned later this week and next week for more ethically-made, eco-friendly guides coming your way.
Lastly, I recognize that the issue of modern day slavery in the clothing industry is extremely complex. Slavery is not just found in the factories where clothes are made, but in the supply chain of the materials. It is very difficult to trace a piece of clothing all the way back to every origin. However, these companies are working against that.
My hope is that we as consumers speak up and tell the top clothing companies that we want change! I love supporting the brands that are making a difference, but I truly believe that the biggest change will happen if the big brands decide to change. They will only change if their consumers speak out.
Lots of love,
P.S. If you want more information on slavery in the supply chains, here is a great article: https://fashionista.com/2018/07/fashion-industry-modern-slavery-report-2018. And here are more stats: https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/