If you wish to look fashionable without compromising your ethical values, picking the right clothing may be a difficult task. Most of the largest retailers in America produce in factories located in Asia with poor working conditions and underpaid staff. However, in recent years more ethical fashion vendors are popping up -- because now more than ever people want to know, "Where do my clothes come from?”
It's hard to understand the complexity of unethical fashion without seeing firsthand what goes on in the factories of impoverished countries. Sadly, even when a large retail company is promised by a factory in India or Bangladesh that it's garments will be produced ethically, what goes on behind the closed doors is a different picture. Sometimes the factory itself is just a front used for show, while the actual production of goods is happening in the homes of laborers who are being paid only a fraction of the standard wage. They do not have the same protection or voice that workers have in western countries. That's why the new wave of "fair trade fashion" is often seen in smaller companies, with a better ability to see and manage what is actually going on from start to finish.
If you seek to make the transition to purchasing only fair trade or ethical fashion, down below are a few tips on how to begin:
Seek out Clothing Brands that Have Pledged to Provide Such Fashion.This is probably the easiest way for anyone seeking to find ethically sourced clothing. Thanks to the internet, several platforms are available for ethical and fairtrade fashion brands and enthusiasts to connect, build communities, network and exchange best practices, including information where to purchase. One good community is Eco Cult, which is a trust source among ethical fashion buyers - check out one of their most helpful articles, The 16 Most Affordable Places To Buy Ethical Fashion.
Do Your Own Research About the Clothing Brand.Unsure of whether or not the brand is fair trade? Check online. This can give you the advantage to simply scan the website of the clothing brand that you are looking to purchase and investigate whether or not they source their clothing in an ethical manner. The ones that do will clearly showcase it on their website's homepage or about page.
Read the Tags.Although this seems very logical, an easy thing you can do is read tags. Many times we are more keen to purchase clothing because the style catches our eye first, not because it’s ethical or fair trade. Tags on clothing often contain information on them to help you determine where and how your clothing was produced.
Shop at Ethical-Only Clothing Stores.This is a great option if you don’t want to go through the hassle of sifting through, say a department store to find one particular brand that’s fair trade. For example, a NYC-based store called Ethica, is a start-up that publicly specializes in providing only ethically sourced clothing. However, if you don’t happen to live in NYC, you are not out of luck! Fortunately, there are many online stores that exist on the same principle. However, make sure that you do your research first before giving just anyone your patronage.
Ask!This may seem like a no-brainer, but when all else fails sometimes the best option left is to be direct and simply ask whether the clothing is ethically sourced or how it was made specifically. You can do this by launching a query on the clothing company’s site directly or sending an email.
Hopefully, this guide has brought you one step closer toward being able to choose clothing efficiently, accurately, and safely that is ethically sourced. It is not easy by any means, but your dedication to this effort will ultimately ensure that the world is a greater place for everyone to inhabit.
Tropic Bliss is a 100% ethically sourced clothing brand - watch here to learn more about our story and meet our seamstresses.