What to Look for When You’re Searching for Ethical Fashion Brands

*This is a guest post.

We all want to wear clothes that feel comfortable and make us look good. Increasingly, feeling comfortable in your clothes means knowing they were produced in an ethical and sustainable manner. The fashion industry is the second most polluting in the world. It is also often guilty of animal abuse and the exploitation of workers. Here are five things to look for when you’re searching for ethical fashion brands.

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1. Less frequent collections

One of the most ethical and sustainable things we can do when shopping for fashion is to buy less. Over-consumption depletes the Earth’s material resources and increases pollution. Fashion brands that truly aim to behave ethically will not just leave this up to the consumer but will take active steps themselves by producing fewer collections. Keep an eye out for brands that only release a new collection once or twice per year. The companies committed to this ethical business model will use terms such as ‘mindful consumption’ and ‘slow fashion’ in their marketing materials.

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2. Where were the clothes made?

The further clothes have to travel the higher their carbon footprint will be. Buying locally made fashion items can reduce the need for global transportation. You also need to know that the labour standards in countries such as China are far lower than they are in Europe or America. There have been several news reports in recent months that the suppliers of fashion brands are using modern day slave labour to produce clothes. Insist on buying from companies that actively seek to prevent this from happening. For example, ASOS has created a digital training program for all its employees so they can spot if a supplier is using slave labour.

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3. What are the clothes made from?

Materials such as nylon, polyester, and acrylic are types of plastic and any clothes made from them will contain microfibers. These plastic microfibers are so small they seep out of our washing machines and end up poisoning our oceans. Avoid buying clothes made from these materials and instead opt for natural, organic materials. Organic cotton, wool, and hemp are all sustainable materials, for example. Always look for clothes that are officially labelled as organic.

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4. Unrealistic beauty standards

Using underweight, airbrushed models in the fashion industry has caused the proliferation of unrealistic beauty standards. This has led to an increase in mental health issues and eating disorders that disproportionately affect young women. Look for brands that don’t have any obvious airbrushing in their marketing materials and also for those that employ a diverse range of models, of all shapes and sizes.

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5. Commitment to the environment

Brands increasingly know they need to run ethical businesses. This goes beyond the obvious issues of materials used, production processes, and workers’ rights. It’s about trying to have as little environmental impact as possible within any part of the business. Look for brands that use green energy suppliers, or even have their own solar panels. There are many ways brands can reduce their carbon footprint, so make sure you choose one that has made the effort.

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12 thoughts on “What to Look for When You’re Searching for Ethical Fashion Brands

  1. I’m so glad you included #4 here. I’ve been looking at Instagram ads specifically to see if they include diversity in their models, and I’m happy to say I see more visions of beauty than before. Another tip: Go through a web site or company that only sources ethical products. My favorite is MadeTrade.

  2. This is so interesting to me! I love being eco-friendly and I feel like I do a decent job of being really conscious about my habits, but I never really think about my clothing. I didn’t know so much of this, but I’m definitely pinning it so that I don’t forget. It makes me want to go through my entire closet now lol.

    1. I feel like we are so extremely surrounded by stores and clothing options that it makes it too easy to forget all these tips! I’m going to continue to work on it as well.

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