ethical credentials when purchasing new clothes...
One of my 2011 resolutions is to make sure every item of clothing has some sort of ethical credentials. I want to do this to further extend my contributions to living ethically. I do not want slave or child labour, having any part in my clothing is produced, I do not want any animals harming when my clothing is produced and I do not want my clothing to harm the environment. When I look at things as simply as this, it seems vulgar that fashion, our clothing and our style, could involve these things. I guess I also want to further explore an ethical lifestyle because of karma. I am not religious, but I do believe that if you're good and positive, then more good and positive things will come to you, so I try to live this way. There is another added benefit though, no longer will I be a slave to the high street and be buying the clothes that everybody else is buying, hopefully this will make my style and clothing more individualised.
Fair Trade & Ethically Made
There are many brands now that offer an all round ethical service. From American Apparel who produces its clothes in LA and their staff are treated very well, to smaller businesses like Reko who produces all of their products in the UK and People Tree who have fair trade factories abroad. Another reason why I like shopping in London is to visit all the small independent boutiques where the clothes are produced in the UK.
I am going to, where possible, buy organic materials. Particularly organic cotton. I always buy organic cotton pads to use on my skin for cleansing but I want to extend this even more into my clothing. See here more on why you should choose organic cotton over regular.
Buying non-leather and vegan shoes, rather than those made from animals. I want to avoid leather and all forms, and although it goes without saying, fur. I do not eat meat, so for me personally, I don't see why I would use their skins, even though some may consider it a by-product.
It could be handmade by yourself, or by others. I think making your own clothes, although tricky to start with, is very satisfying. It is very special to own an item of clothing that no one else does. There are also loads of great handmade items on Etsy which I hadn't looked at a lot into recently, but now I am completely addicted to looking through the website for hours on end.
Recycled & Reused
You can buy items which are made out of recycled products, like Matt & Nats beautiful handbags made out of recycled water bottles. You can also reuse your old clothes by getting creative and customising them.
Vintage & Second Hand
The green element to vintage and second hand is that clothes get more wear out of them, and therefore, per wear, their carbon footprint is reduced. I love rustling through charity shops and it is something that I am looking forward to doing more of. Vintage shops are probably some of my favourite shops to go into, I can spend hours and hours in them. We have a few great ones in York but I love going to London for vintage shopping. RB and I both love Beyond Retro as he can play vintage video games while I shop. I love Rokit too and often shop online here. I love ebay for second hand and vintage too.
Borrowing & Swishing
Similar ethical credentials to above. I love borrowing clothes, I always do off my friends and my sister. It is very thrifty and great for special dresses and items that you would not wear a lot as the item gets more wears and it saves on have to buy a new dress for a formal occasion. Swishing, swapping clothes that you do not want for new ones, has a great sociable aspects. It is yet again thrifty and just as satisfying as shopping. Swishing.org has tips on how to throw your own swishing party and on public swishing events.
Ethical High Street
There are a growing number of ethical products available on the high street. Topshop and Marks & Spencer often have a few items which are organic or fair trade. Toast has an extensive ethical policy on their website but they also have stores on the high street. Yay for Toast!
You may also notice in my labels I have included a new one called ETHICAL GUIDE, I will be tagging posts here that help with purchasing ethical products. I will be looking at brands and stores that offer ethical products, mainly clothing, and be writing about them here.
I know also that some people may say that buying lots of clothes is also fairly unethical. However, I love to shop, I love fashion, so I do not think shopping is something I'd ever be able to give up. I do intend to build a capsule wardrobe and not to ever again purchase throw-away-fashion. Tamsin Blanchards 'Green is the New Black' has great tips for creating your capsule wardrobe (see page 59 onwards).