//‘You Are What You Wear’: A guide to Understanding Ethical Fashion

‘You Are What You Wear’: A guide to Understanding Ethical Fashion

For a lot of us, our fashion choices reflect our personality and sense of style. This can be the trends we follow, the colours we choose and the brands we support. But have you ever considered whether your fashion choices reflect your values? Are you aware of the fashion industry and what it can represent? If the answer is no, don’t worry – we’re here to shed light on the clothing and fashion industry that surrounds us all. But we promise that we’ll do more than outlining the flaws of the industry. The goal isn’t to undermine the importance of fashion. Sure, we get it – it’s more than just clothing. It’s gives us a sense of individuality and character, and communicates a little about our taste to others. And so while we’re committed to exposing the cruelty behind the clothing industry, we’ll also be offering ethical fashion and sustainable alternatives for you to stay fashion savvy.

The Truth behind the Fashion Industry

Did you know that the fashion industry pollutes more than any other industry next to oil? The truth is, most clothes are made in unhealthy, unethical, and unfair ways. What you wear often contains toxins and chemicals, exploits workers, pollutes the air, harms animals and fails to give any consideration to environmental sustainability. In an article: “The Truth About the Clothes we Wear: How Fashion Impacts Health and the environment,” Beth Greer states that “poor working conditions, minimal environmental regulations, and child and slave labor are commonplace in the $1 trillion garment industry.” She continues: “most of the clothes we wear (unless they are labeled “Fair Trade” or “Organic”) contain some pretty toxic additives. For example, conventionally grown cotton uses more insecticides than any other single crop.”

One of the best ways of avoiding these chemicals and toxins is by avoiding ‘fast fashion’ all together. The fashion industry promotes and advertises trendy clothes that don’t last, either because of a lack of quality or they soon go out of fashion. Take your wardrobe seriously and start thinking about items that really define you. Buy clothes that are made with love and quality, organic and natural material that don’t harm your health or the environment.

‘Green’ is the New Black: Choosing the Right Brands

One of the most important steps you can take is to ensure that you support and choose the right brands. How, you may be wondering. One of the best resources out there is The Good Shopping Guide. This site is your “ethical comparison site,” allowing you to compare and evaluate brands and stores through a scoring system. The best part is that its measurements consider many different and important factors such as: environmental report, Genetic Modification (GM), organic, nuclear power, animal welfare, vegetarian, political donations, armaments, fair trade, boycott calls, public record criticisms and ethical accreditations. And it uses a measurement system using green, orange and red, along with a percentage score to tell you how ethical the brand is. You can even search based on industry: energy, money, travel, fashion, health & beauty, food & drink and home & office. This offers an easy and simple way for you, so that you can get to know the brands and companies out there. Their mission is worth mentioning. This is what they have to say: “The Good Shopping Guide Reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly of the world’s companies and brands, assisting you in choosing more eco-friendly, ethical products that support the growth of social responsibility and ethical business as well as a more sustainable, just society.”

Don’t be heartbroken if you see that some of your favourite brands have horrible ratings. The truth is ugly. But give yourself time to adjust as well. Maybe at first you’ll want to start by avoiding all the stores with ‘red’ ratings, and from there, work your way up to the stores that score higher.

The 8 Best Tips to go Eco-Chic

As promised, here are some easy ways to help you transition your wardrobe into one that is representative of your values and fashion choices. Are you ready for sustainable and ethical fashion tips?

  • Made Well. This is so important. Buy quality rather than quantity. We already discussed the problems with fast fashion. One of the best ways to your eco-chic closet is by ensuring that you have clothes that last. Sure they’ll be a bit more expensive, but you wont have to replace them so fast. Also, if you’re paying a bit more, then you’ll seriously think about whether you need it or not.
  • Support Local Shops. Buy from local stores and boutiques. This way you’ll have more control over how far the products travel. Also, supporting smaller businesses can mean that you’ll get to actually meet the person who made your clothes and support your local community.
  • Minimize your Wardrobe. Having more clothes doesn’t mean that you’ll be better dressed. In fact, minimalist wardrobes mean thought and effort went into every single item, which actually enhances your style. Remember, a huge part of supporting ethical fashion is by buying less.
  • Repair. Don’t get bored too quickly. Don’t waste your clothes. If there’s something wrong with them, repair them. There’s no need to get rid of a pair of jeans because the zipper is broken – fix the zipper. And if you do buy items that are made with quality, and ones that you do love, then you won’t even want to throw them out.
  • Recycle. Buy second-hand or vintage. It can be lots of fun, and it’ll feel amazing when you find that unique piece. Also, buying second-hand is one of the best ways of ensuring your ethical shopping is cheap. You’ll also feel great that you’re buying something that already existed. And if you get tired of it, then donate it back to keep the cycle going.
  • Fair Trade. This is the bit that requires some research. Get to know your favourite shops and evaluate their values. This means that the producers are treated with respect and dignity (paid fairly for their goods).
  • Natural Fibres. Avoid synthetic materials and try to switch to natural fibres such as: cotton, linen, silk, wool, cashmere and hemp. When you invest in natural fibres you’ll benefit from toxic-free clothing that’s way better for your health. In addition, natural fibre is more sustainable and will last longer.
  • Versatility. Choose clothes that you can use and reuse. Buy basics and classics that don’t go out of style. For example, invest in a classic, beautiful and well-made black dress that you can dress-up and dress-down for different occasions. Buying versatile pieces means you’ll buy less and better items. And the best bit is that you can get creative to change up your look using different accessories, shoes, cardigans and jewellery.

Buy Responsibly: Support Ethical Fashion

‘Green’ is the new black, and ethical fashion is the new chic. Think deeply about what your clothes, your style, and your fashion say about you and your values. It’s time we start fighting back, showing resistance and protesting against the fashion industry and what it stands for.

Let’s redefine our style.

Learn more about sustainable and ethical shopping.

We’d LOVE to hear from you. Comment below to share you eco-chic tips with us.

By | 2017-08-11T15:27:50+00:00 January 27th, 2016|Categories: Eco-friendly Shopping|Tags: , |0 Comments

About the Author:

Zahra Khosroshahi
Zahra is a Ph.D. student at the University of East Anglia (UEA), looking at the representation of women in contemporary Iranian cinema. When she’s not consumed by films, she likes to write about environmental and health issues. It all started with their family business www.LivingLifeNatural.com where her research turned into a lifelong passion and mission. Zahra believes that we all need to take better care of our shared and only home. To get to know her better, check out her Instagram @zahra_livinglifenatural.