Vintage and secondhand are always the best option when more clothes are needed but it can sometimes be hard to find that one very special piece for a very special occasion or even a well made basic dress that checks all of the boxes of being breathable, versatile and also the perfect length.
We already know what to look for in new pieces if we want out purchases to be as friendly and low-impact to the planet as possible and there are plenty of companies – both new and old – offering organic and recycled textiles, non-toxic dyes and low-emission production, however there is an another extremely important issue that we usually forget about whenever talking fashion and that is its human cost. The sweatshops, child labor, poverty wages and human rights violations that became staples of fashion’s production chains over the last couple of decades have now become a thorn on the side of an already discredited industry and weigh heavily on customers’ consciences. As these issues become more difficult to ignore, the question: “Who made my clothes?” has become one that a growing number people have started to ask themselves while staring at closets bursting with large amounts of unused or barely-used cheap clothing bought on a whim.
Curbing fashion’s current feverish cycles of design and production in favor of producing fewer, better and more durable garments will do much to remedy the industry’s waste problems and – more importantly – to reduce the demand for the cheap labor that is currently the foundation of so much of it. It means that we have to pay better attention to what we’re designing, producing and buying and it definitely means that we must shift away from a production model that relies on exciting but short-lived whimsical trends in favor of protecting human lives (we’re looking at you, bike shorts!).
Thankfully, a new crop of consciously-minded designers and innovators with their sights set on bringing about this change have made it much easier than it used to be for similarly conscious costumers to find better, more ethical alternatives for clothes and organizations such as Fair Trade Certified, Certified B, GOTS and OEKO-Tex inform customers on the sustainability and ethical standards that companies which carry their seals of approval adhere to. These designers, along with activists from both within and outside of the fashion industry have contributed to fast fashion’s fall from grace and to an increased demand for products that are made in places where people enjoy humane working conditions and fair pay for their work from customers that are now more than willing to shell out extra cash for better quality clothes that are friendlier to the planet and easier on their conscience
Supporting the enterprises working to bring these products into the market not only helps those companies grow; it also helps the people who work for them escape poverty cycles, obtain a better education and more advancement opportunities and contributes to a better overall quality of life for their communities. It’s because of this that we’ve put together a list of change-makers offering gorgeous options that are made fairly and ethically for anything that the upcoming summer days may throw your way.
1. People Tree
Best for: Supporting artisans in rural communities
People Tree is a true testament to the commercial value and viability of sustainable clothing. The company has been offering fair trade products and setting the standard for sustainability in fashion for nearly thirty years.
Their founder has pledged to support people in communities where jobs and similar resources are scarce by combining the traditional techniques that the residents of these areas are skilled in such as hand weaving, hand knitting, and hand embroidering with modern technology to make them commercially valuable. People Tree uses natural and organic materials as much as possible, tries to use manufacturing processes with minimal environmental impact, and doesn’t include toxic dyes in their products. Their years-long commitment to doing good by their producers and by the environment finally paid off in 2013 when they became the first clothing company to be awarded with the Fair Trade product mark by the World Fair Trade Organization.
Marta Leaf Print Dress – 100% Organic Cotton; Stina Floral Dress – 100% TENCEL™ Lyocell;