Style: Ethical Clothing
One of our goals this year was to simplify, only keep the things we really love and invest in quality pieces that will last for many years. We've been drawn to American-made brands that have personal relationships with their factories and sources. We want to support small businesses who work hard on their craft, even if it means we have to spend the extra moneys. I recently watched the documentary The True Cost about the effects cheap fashion has on people and our planet (among other things). I knew the fashion industry was messed up but I didn't know to what scale. The average worker in a textile factory in developing countries makes dirt cheap wages, like $10/day. They also don't receive any benefits while the fashion companies using them are making trillions of dollars. I think this goes beyond whether or not 'we don't have money for nice clothes.' America needs to change his priorities. Looking at what cheap fashion means for other people makes me want to change my priorities. Even if it means I can only buy a couple shirts a year, it's worth it. We don't like that in America though because we want huge closets and homes full of cheap stuff.
The more we buy clothes from places like Forever 21, H&M, Target, JCrew, Gap, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Macy's, etc. the more we affirm the fashion companies' practices. It's nice to think that they're using wool from a sheep farm, kind ladies are spinning the fabric and weaving our clothes but that is not reality.
Almost everything (literally) in Forever 21 is made of polyester or acrylic which are both plastic and the people making those things are working around harmful chemicals, aren't treated like normal humans and can't afford to feed their children.
Rather than contributing to the issue, let's change the way we shop. We can say, well I can't afford that $150 handmade shirt, which I completely understand. We tend to be okay with spending $150 if we get like ten items out of it, but it makes so much more sense to have a couple handmade, fairly traded shirts than 15 plastic shirts that are ten dollars each and you throw away in 2 years. Plus, it's so much more rewarding to save up for a piece that you truly love. When we shop less, invest in nicer pieces and know where they are coming from, we end up with infinitely higher quality clothing that naturally looks better, lasts much longer, supports good businesses, helps the economy, doesn't contribute to poverty, keeps the world clean...(I can keep going).
There is also a difference between spending a lot of money on a brand name advertised as being high quality and a company who actually invests in quality material. For example, I love Anthropologie, but it's essentially a glorified Forever21 that makes me think its higher quality by their fantastic design. The materials and clothing come from the same sources as Forever21, still use mostly acrylic and polyester, and supports the same messed up labor laws. Anthropologie just raises the price 10x. I don't see quality OR good labor practices in that. I contacted them one time to ask about how the clothes are made and evidently they are pretty secretive about the topic. Not cool.
Above is a small list of shops worth researching.
I encourage you to do your own research and find businesses you enjoy and want to support. We can absolutely make a difference by changing the way we shop. I would also love to know of more local shops who sell and make their own clothing. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!