Cultivating a passion for ethical fashion
Every wardrobe looks different. For each person, their wardrobe is an expression of who they are and where they’ve been – a glimpse into what makes them them. Some wardrobes are filled to the brim with stacks of clothes – some pieces dating back to decades ago, having reached their expiry date, much to their owner’s dismay. Other wardrobes are minimalist, featuring only what the wearer deems as ‘needed’. And then of course, there are other wardrobes that are so lavish with exotic, vibrant pieces that you could only call it artful – my favourite kind of closet!
When we look at our wardrobes, words that come to mind may be ‘style’, ‘fashion’, ‘comfort’, ‘bargain’, ‘sale’ or ‘that season’s trends’ etc. etc. Very rarely do we look at our wardrobes and ponder where our clothing actually came from. Very rarely do we see the bigger picture. Very rarely do we understand the journey our clothing pieces have actually taken to end up hanging/folded/chucked on the ground before us. For if we did truly understand the journey they have taken, our thoughts would hopefully be less focused on style and more disturbed at the reality we are facing. Once you know what’s truly going on before the clothes end up hanging nicely in your favourite store, words like ‘child labour’, ‘illegal production’, ‘over-worked, underpaid’, ‘unsafe working conditions’ and ‘violation of workers’ rights’ unfortunately may be more suitable.
Although more companies are changing their ways, sweatshops are still the favoured avenue for clothing production for many stores we love to shop at. The stores may seem harmless at first glance, but once you have done your own research and then start looking at clothing tags and read e.g. Made in China or Made in India, you will come to realise they’re not as innocent as they seem. Too many companies are unfortunately compromising human rights for profit and it’s really not ok.
So what can we do? Apart from becoming more researched and knowledgeable about the reality of what’s going on, there are simple decisions we can make to ensure we’re not supporting unethical clothing production and rather investing our money into fair, just and ethical practices. Some habits we can adopt when shopping for clothes are:
- Question where the store sources their products from. Often companies that are doing the right thing won’t be silent about it. They’ll often label their products clearly, so look at for tags that state the brand is accredited to be ethically produced or simply shop at stores that are based on providing ethical fashion (like For All Studio or Thread Harvest).
- Check whether you think the price is fair. More often than not, if the purchase is a total bargain, it wasn’t made ethically. Think about how many hours it would have taken to make the piece of clothing – does the price sound fair to you?
- Shop at Op Shops! Although the clothing may have been originally made in sweatshops, by repurchasing it secondhand, your money is no longer supporting the unethical practices of the original clothing line, but rather charities. It’s a win-win for everybody!
If you’re hungry for more info or tips, make sure you check out Jess Palu’s and Charlotte Kingi’s interviews about their views of ethical fashion featured in this month’s Youth Hub!
Let’s do what we can to support the ethical fashion movement so we’re not just looking out for our own style interests but the health and wellbeing of others.
* Click to the right and Watch Charlotte Kingi discuss Ethical Fashion and her own ethical brand (Part 1 &2)- Check out her online clothing bhoutique www.forallstudio.co.