A guide to choosing ethical clothing
There has been an increasing awareness of the issues within the fashion industry–exploitation of workers to produce cheap clothes, using poor quality materials that leads to clothes that deteriorate easily, and the environmental impact of the massive amounts of discarded textiles– that has all led to criticism of the industry of fast fashion. Fast fashion refers to the quick production of materials that are made to serve our desire for instant gratification and our convenience. As consumers of clothing on a regular basis, we students also bare the responsibility of critically thinking about our consumption. However, it may be difficult to find ethical clothing when the stores students shop most at, such as H&M and Zara, are filled to the brim with fast fashion. To ease the transition into a more ethical closet, here are a few tips for students to start rethinking and fixing the ethicality of their closets.
Shop from ethical brands
There are right steps being made in the fashion industry, and supporting the businesses that are making those steps are an effective way to counter the fast fashion wave. However, when workers are paid properly, and better quality materials are used, clothing inevitably becomes more expensive. But the high price is worth it; these clothes can last you a lifetime if taken care of properly. If you have the means to afford them, here are a few among many brands that you can choose from and feel good about buying:
No Nasties is an India-based clothing brand created by Apurva Kothari and Shweta Deliwala. It is a fairtrade licensed brand with clothes that are all 100% cotton. They have clothes for both adults and kids, hosting a wide range of clothes you can choose from. The minimalistic and casual pieces are sure to be a versatile addition to your closet.
Amour Vert is a sustainable fashion brand based in San Francisco. Their selection features closet essentials such as simple tees, hoodies, and even sneakers. They also plant a tree in partnership with American Forest with every tee you buy from them!
Asket is a menswear brand created by August Bard Brigéus and Jakob Dworsky. Their selection consists of clothing of everyday, casual styles and features a “Garment Care” section where you can obtain sustainable detergents and other clothing care products.
However, for most students higher priced brands may be inaccessible. Here are a few more ways that you can include ethics in your closet even with a low budget.
Thrifting has been making a comeback within the younger generation as a great way to find unique pieces to spice up an outfit; it also decreases the amount of textiles dumped in the landfill each year. Stores like a local Savers and Goodwill have plenty of clothes to choose from that aren’t grandma sweaters; their clothes range from sweaters, pants, to even shoes that are in style and perfectly wearable. Thrift stores have new batches of clothing (sometimes still brand new) on their racks on a regular basis, and you can obtain them for much cheaper prices without financially supporting brands with unethical practices. Make sure to check the seams and buttons for quality, and always try on clothes before buying.
Buy and sell second hand online
Buying and selling used clothing online is another way you can be ethical as a student. Websites such as Depop and Poshmark feature people selling clothes they no longer wear or want, which creates a perfect opportunity for people looking for clothing on a budget while being aware of their consumer choices. You can also sell your own clothes there and clean out your closets without throwing out your clothes or overcrowding donation boxes, with a guarantee that they will be worn again.
Take care of the clothes you already own
Got a rip in your favorite pants? Don’t worry. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn how to sew and fix them. With beginner level sewing skills, you can mend rips and reattach buttons to make clothes that would have been otherwise thrown out perfectly wearable again. To reduce stains from building up, have a spot stain cleaner at hand and rinse out stains as quickly as possible. Immediate care of stains will allow for clothing to be cleaner for a notably longer amount of time. Doing only these two things regularly can extend the life of your clothes significantly and reduce the amount of money spent on new clothes.
Simply buying less doesn’t sound like much, but this method is another efficient way of being aware of your clothing choices. Unsubscribe from clothing store emails that lure you into buying more with sales, and ask if you really need another piece of clothing before buying. A good rule of thumb before buying new clothing is to ask yourself, “Can I create more than five outfits that I will enjoy with this piece?” Questioning the actual usability of a piece can dramatically reduce buyer’s regret. This can be beneficial beyond your ethicality- it can be a way to become more satisfied with what you already own and a way to slow down in an immensely consumerist society that demands us to constantly consume material.
It is never too late to act on your ethics. Taking steps for an ethical closet, even if they are small, is crucial for a sustainable future. If you would like to learn more about fast fashion and ethical clothing, check out good on you, a website with a wide array of information on the impacts of fast fashion, ratings of brand ethics, and everything you need to know about consuming clothes ethically.