Shopping for ethical clothing needn’t mean spending more than you can afford, or settling for designs you don’t like. There are plenty of things you can do to shop ethically that will make a big difference to workers and the environment.
Making a few small changes to your buying habits and knowing where to purchase your clothing are the keys to making an impact. All it takes is being sure you’re purchasing clothes from ethical fashion brands and local designers you know you can trust. Keeping a few tips in mind, it’s possible to make ethical fashion choices without sacrificing on style.
Keep reading to learn the best ways to buy ethical clothing, and make it a regular habit when shopping!
#1 – Research Your Favourite Brands
You might be surprised to discover that your favourite brands are already ethically-minded! To find out, check whether they are listed on websites such as: the Consumer, Ethical, KnowTheChain, Project Just, or Rank a Brand.
These ethical clothing sites score each brand on various factors and break down the rankings so you can see if your favourite brand is truly ethically-sourced. Comparing your go-to brands against others is a great way to determine whether they’re worth buying from or not.
If you want to learn more about a brand that isn’t featured on any of these websites, then you can do the research on your own. Simply googling the brand will quickly uncover whether it has a reputation for exploiting workers and making them endure unethical working conditions. If this is the case, then it’s a clear sign the brand is more concerned with profits than making a positive impact on the world.
As far as buying ethically goes, this type of company definitely doesn’t make the cut, so it’s worth considering whether you should keep supporting them or not.
And if you’re still unsure, do some more investigation. Look for information relating to how their garments are made, where they’re made, and how much they pay their workers. Also keep an eye out for any allegations concerning the working conditions they provide.
Avoiding an unethical brand may not instantly change their practices, but eventually, the more people who spend their money elsewhere will force the brand to re-evaluate their behaviour and make changes.
#2 – Simplify Your Closet
When it comes to adopting ethical fashion into your shopping routine, you need to simplify your wardrobe as well as your needs. Determining your needs vs wants will help stop you from buying unnecessary clothing.
And don’t let ethical fashion brands trick you into thinking you need everything in their collection! Be critical about what you truly NEED and avoid the temptation to buy every season.
It’s also a good idea to clean out your wardrobe and donate any unwanted clothing to an H&M store that will give them to charity or repurpose them into something new.
#3 – Get To Know Consignment Stores
No longer considered a fashion faux pas, consignment stores are having a resurgence, and they are the perfect place to shop ethically. Buying your clothing second-hand doesn’t mean buying something tatty or out of date. These days, there are plenty of upmarket re-seller stores online such as The Real Real that specialise in designer or nearly new garments, for a fraction of the original RRP. It’s also worthwhile checking out secondhand marketplaces such as Vestaire Collective, and even eBay.
Buying secondhand vs brand new has obvious benefits beyond just saving money. It means that you are reducing waste and reducing the demand for the amount of low-wage garments produced every year. And, if you are able to buy an ethical brand second hand, then you are really making a big impact!
#4 – Shop for Clothes Out of Season
Just like ordinary fashion brands, most ethical fashion labels need to rotate their inventory on a seasonal basis too. Shopping out of season can get you the best deals on clothing and accessories. Subscribe to the store’s e-mail newsletter so you’ll be among the first to know about their in-store and online discounts and promotions.
#5 – Check Flash Sale Sites
Flash sale sites are a great resource for the budget-conscious, ethical fashion shopper as they allow you to purchase clothes at steep discounts (for a limited time only.)
Since they create awareness and have a small inventory, they often offer sales from ethical fashion brands. Since the ethical fashion brand doesn’t have to pay for shipping costs, the savings are passed onto you. Use flash sale sites to stock up on ethically produced clothes at affordable prices.
#6 – Purchase Handmade Clothing
Handmade clothing is more often than not, ethically-made. It’s also likely to be a lot more unique and cost effective than buying from a large established retailer. However, finding handmade clothing online can be slightly tricky if you’re not sure where to look.
Marketplaces such as Etsy and Shopify are a great place to start, as they allow small clothing designers to sell their clothes easily without the costs of going it alone. If you’re someone that enjoys going out to shop, then community markets, craft fairs, and your city’s fashion districts are your best bet for finding unique handmade clothing while also supporting your local community.
Image Credits: In The FROW, Tuula Vintage