Recommended that you start with essay: Wearing Responsibility
I have been asked to share which brands of clothing I wear and would recommend a person purchase. So if you want to know the brands I wear, go ahead and skip the next section. But please know that the brand is not what is important to me. If any brand I currently purchase clothing from were to change their practices, I would cease purchasing their products, and this page will be updated appropriately with my reasoning. Now, let’s begin.
It’s not about the brand.
I do not believe in brands, I believe in certain practices and look for companies that take active steps to end the godawful standards in the global textile industry.
When I started looking for companies that created more ethically clothing, I started by googling: “ethical clothing brands.” This gave me a rather extensive list, and I started to look at the different websites. I became concerned about having a certain logo that would show, “Golly, I am ethical” but I had no idea what made clothing “ethical.”
So I took a step back, and did a more exhaustive search of “What makes a company ethical?” Turns out I found out a great deal more, and I began to realize that it is not about the brand, but the practices.
Fair Trade Certified: Workers’ rights are the basis for my decisions when it comes to purchasing. I want to make sure that the products I wear were not passed through the hands of a person barely able to make ends meet with their salary. In addition, fair trade certification is also based in sustainable practices that do not exploit the environment with chemicals and other harmful practices to our planet’s ecosystem.
Fair Trade Certified businesses are often social enterprises, creating a more sustainable future for families, something that drive-by charity can never accomplish. Go to fairtradecertified.org to read an exhaustive list of their standards.
BlueSign: This organization is focused on working this the textile industry to find alternative ways to producing clothing without using harmful chemicals or materials that could do harm to employees. BlueSign approved companies use the best available technology on hand to ensure that all measures of safety for humans and the environment are taken along with longterm sustainability of the practice.
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): The raw materials that come from these fabrics come from organic farms and through processing that is sustainable. The standards protect the environment, workers and the consumer from irresponsible manufacturing. Any product that carries this label is required to contain a minimum percentage of organic materials.
Transparency: I believe that we need to be willing to look at the locations our products are made and be comfortable with what we see. Companies that make it difficult for me to see where products are made do not often get a second look from me. Knowing how much something actually costs is another way I measure transparency. Where not all companies meet both of these criteria, I look for transparency in one of these two ways before deciding to purchase a product from a company.
Contains Recycled Materials: Clothing and other products that has been made from recycled plastic bottles and clothing always gets my first choice, but when this is not available, I tend to look for clothes made from fabrics containing the Global Organic Textile Standard fabric (GOTS).
My values do not contain a loyalty to a brand, but rather to certain practices. There are certainly brands that suit my fancy, but that is only because they meet most or some of the criteria listed above. There is not a perfect company out there, but we can certainly do what we can and support the ones who are trying, while being willing to cut ties if they fall out of line with your values.
End Note: Not all brands produce clothing that fit everyone the same or even well. It your the responsibility as the consumer to do an appropriate amount of research before buying something new. Many of us also do not need to purchase more clothing. Let’s take care before deciding to buy a new thing.
The best way to prevent unnecessary waste is to gradually adapt and adopt rules and limitations for yourself. I am not suggesting that anyone go into their closet and dispose of any clothing that did not come from an ethical factory or process. That would be wasteful. Making changes gradually over time is better than refusing to acknowledge the need for change.
Companies Where I Purchase New and Used Clothing
I wear Everlane for several reasons, and the main ones are they fall into the transparency and fair wage category. They prove their transparency by showing you pictures of the factories and the cost for labor, materials and transportation.Pact was one of the first companies I discovered in the Fair Trade Certified arena. They make their products with 100% organic cotton and only work with companies that are either Fair Trade Certified or exist in countries where the need for such certification is not necessary because workers rights and laws have been put into place.Patagonia passes all of my tests in regard to ensuring that their clothing is made ethically, do not cause unnecessary harm to others and they take active steps to improve the current environmental crisis.
Another factor that makes Patagonia one of my choices, is they encourage people to purchase their clothing used at a website called wornwear.patagonia.com. The clothing is cut in price, and they believe “the single best thing we can do for the planet is keep our gear in use longer and cut down on consumption.”
Patagonia also practices transparency by giving you all of the factory information, takes steps to make their clothing and gear Fair Trade Certified in addition to making clothing that is BlueSign approved. Their commitment to using sustainable, responsible and recycled materials in their products is the proverbial “icing on the cake.”
Not only does Prana fit me well, but they make their clothing with sustainable materials, treat their employees fairly and take steps to improve processes in the textile industry. Like Patagonia, they use recycled materials, organic cotton and responsibly sourced down. They believe in transparency, have a fair trade certification and make BlueSign approved clothing. Oliberté is the first Fair Trade Certified shoe company and practices transparency, sustainability and fair employment practices. They do not ship with plastic, and put in all of their extra effort to ensure that their footwear is wearable for a lifetime. They believe in breaking cycles of generational poverty and investing in the communities where their factories are located. REI is a store that sells both Prana and Patagonia. They also have an in house brand that is committed to transparency, seeks fair trade certification and have BlueSign approved products. The values of the organization are similar to that of Patagonia. An entire section on their webpage is committed to selling used gear. Their goal is to prevent the production of new items when there are plenty of wearable and usable ones available.
For more resources on brands that often fit in this criteria, visit truecostmovie.com.
Who Pays The Price For Our Clothing?