Source. [Image description: an image inside a sweatshop.]
Article by Emily Bourne and Ellanora Lerner.
Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in the educated consumer – shoppers who think not just about the convenience, price, and quality of the products they buy, but also the environmental and human rights consequences of their choices. The Ethical Consumer Markets Report, a study of UK sales data, reported in 2019 that ethical spending in the UK has grown almost 400% since 1999.
Studies have also shown that this desire for sustainability and ethical fashion are at the forefront of young people’s minds when looking to buy new items of clothing. If you are interested in making your wardrobe more ethical, and supporting small business, check out the creators below.
Remember that in order to be ethical, many of these people/companies charge higher prices than big stores and higher prices than many people can afford. Shopping less or buying second-hand is a great way to reduce the climate and environmental impact of the fashion industry too!
But before we tell you about some amazing ethical brands, let’s attack what ‘fast fashion’ is and why we need to see the end of it.
What Is Fast Fashion?
Fast Fashion is where brands use cheap materials to make their clothes and make them in a rapid fashion, despite quality issues, to stay up with the current trends. New technology around the time of the Industrial Revolution enabled brands to make clothes quickly and cheaply. Before this, clothes would usually be made uniquely for each individual, rather than in standard sizes and hundreds of the same item. Because the quality is reduced to the speed and cheap materials, fast fashion encourages you to buy more at a cheaper price, which, inevitably, ends up in landfill after a short time.
What are the Human Rights issues with Fast Fashion?
Fast fashion thrives off systemic racism, as they usually hire individuals from developing countries, generally from BAME POC backgrounds, as it enables companies to pay workers the lowest prices for labour. These people, usually women, are underpaid (far below a living wage) and forced to work in unsafe conditions. Therefore, they make huge profits from exploiting people who are least likely to be listened to by society. Another way in which fast fashion is racist is that it’s bad for the environment, which ends up affecting poorer areas of the world, such as developing countries and indigenous communities.
Source. [Image description: Clothing from Aisling's fashion collection]
Aisling Duffy creates made to order ethical fashion addressing personal themes and social issues.
Prices range from £18-£550. ($22-$685 USD).
Source. [Image description: 4 images side by side of a black dress from Megan’s collection.]
Megan Crosby creates handmade, ethical, colorful clothing.
Prices run from £35-£90. ($44-$112 USD).
Read about her sustainability pledge here.
Harriet Law Design
Harriet Law makes handmade dreamy and quirky accessories.
Prices range from £4-£28. ($5-$35 USD).
Source. [Image description: Two rows of images of crocheted products.]
Lizzie Kaya creates sustainable handmade crocheted clothing and jewelry.
Prices range from £15-£125. ($19-$156 USD)
Source. [Image description: Two people on runways, one in a blue swimsuit and the other in a red swimsuit.]
Chromat is an ethically and sustainably sourced business creating swimwear for all shapes and sizes.
Prices run from 40 USD to 238 USD (32 to 191 GBP).
Source. [Image Description: The backs of two people holding hands and wearing shirts that say “No human is illegal on stolen land”]
CHNGE makes ethical basics and political slogan shirts.
Prices range from $31 USD to $150 USD (£25 to £121 GBP).
Source. [Image Descriptions: A model in black and white pants and a white t-shirt looks down.]
Matter Prints creates clothing based on traditional textiles and styles while working to make sustainable production in rural Asia.
Prices run from 79 USD to 279 USD (63 to 224 GBP).
Source. [Image Description: A person wearing a grey sweatshirt that says “The Future is Female”]
Otherwild sources and creates ethical clothing, houseware, and apothecary products.
Prices for their various products range from 2.50 USD all the way to 400 USD (2 to 321 GBP), but there are many more affordable products.
Source. [Image Descriptions: A row of three images. One is a close up of a person wearing a hat and t-shirt. One is a pair of earrings and the third image is a shirt on a hanger.]
InI Vibez sells clothing and jewelry hand-made by Grenadian designer I-sha. The brand is run from Make Manifest, a Brooklyn location that hosts sustainable events and supports local businesses.
Prices are between 11 USD and 90 USD (9 to 72 GBP).
Dips and Coils
Source. [Image Description: A spread of clock gear pendants that can be made into earrings and a pair of blue wire coiled earrings.]
Prices are typically between 5 and 10 USD (4 to 8 GBP).
Click on the photos to read more on this topic!