I know. Ethical fashion shopping isn’t the easiest. So many parameters seem to exist, and if you’re anything like me, you might struggle to justify even the simplest fashion purchase. We like to think ourselves above such trivial things- minimalism, conscious living, low waste, etc. etc. But sometimes, a garment captures your heart.
Minimalism and low waste living are noble pursuits. But it is also ok to find joy and pleasure and confidence in the perfect pair of boots, or floaty summer dress. Finding the perfect garment is even more rewarding when you know that you’ve supported a local industry, contributions have gone to charity, or the fabric was sustainably sourced.
The Magic of Fabric
Memories attach themselves to garments. Something intangible but very real occurs when you have your first kiss wearing a certain blouse, or spend a beautifully quiet night snuggled up in an oversized knit by the fire with loved ones. Suddenly, that blouse, that knit, becomes so much more. It is forever forth an ode a larger-than-life moment in time when everything was utterly perfect.
Let’s fill our lives with priceless memories created wearing ethical, sustainable, magical garments.
Here is how to make ethical fashion something inspiring and exciting…
Define Ethical Fashion for You
People like boundaries. So respect yourself enough to create your own boundaries. Everyone has a different version of ‘ethical’. Perhaps, like me, you feel comfortable wearing sustainably and ethically sourced wool, but not leather. Perhaps your boundaries are set very clearly by a ‘Good’ rating on the Good On You app.
Whatever your guidelines, work out what they look like and why. Once you’ve done this, only allow brands and garments that abide by these principles into your life and your wardrobe. If you do purchase anything that falls outside of these parameters, you will know it every time your fingers graze over its soft fabric and it will find its lifespan spent in the darkest, deepest corners of your closet.
Keep A Directory of Your Favourite Ethical Fashion Brands
My modern day paper and ink notebook, aka the Notes App in my phone, is filled with an ever-growing list of ethical and sustainable brands. Sidenote- I promise this will turn into an extensive directory on Maia soon!
Head to Instagram, Pinterest and blogs for inspiration. Aside from the big leagues such as Reformation, many of these brands are smaller and social media can be a great way to discover them. When I enter a new brand in my Notes app, I put a little note next to it to remember what they specialise in, eg.:
- Organic Basics- organic cotton underwear.
- Filippa K- luxury minimalist work-ware
Eventually, your list (and the Maia directory) will grow into a resource of brands that align with your needs. When it’s time for a new work blouse, pull out that list and start googling the relevant brands.
Remember- continue to stay open to the new brands that emerge. The ethical fashion market continues to grow so there are constantly new exciting brands coming through!
Head Online for Ethical Fashion Shopping
Also known as ‘avoid shopping centres’. Many ethical fashion brands are smaller, meaning they have an online presence rather than an bricks-and-mortar presence. I barely even shop in shopping centres any more. The brands there rarely follow any ethical or sustainable code so I consider it a waste of time (there are exceptions such as Country Road and Witchery which create timeless, classic garments)
Bonus of online shopping– you can shop for your new winter knit while sipping a glass of red wine!
Create a Personal Ethical Capsule Wardrobe
Stay with me. I know every fashion blogger and their dog talk about capsule wardrobes now. But we shouldn’t roll our eyes at something that aims to reduce waste and over-consumption. And capsule wardrobes are perfect for ethical shoppers! There are some great resources on Pinterest that will point you in the right direction for creating your own capsule wardrobe.
I’m a big believer in never buying something the first time you see it. If, a few days later, that gorgeous ethically made wrap dress keeps floating into your mind, then consider purchasing it. Make sure it’s love, not just lust.
Invest in Beautiful Ethical Fashion Pieces
Many ethical fashion garments are on the pricey side. That’s because you’re paying for quality materials, quality labour, and a fair wage. So they are worth every cent! Unless you’re one of the few people out there with an unlimited budget, this will force you to consider the purchases you make- do you really need it? How often will you wear it? How will it fit in with your exisiting wardrobe?
Budget wisely for your long-term capsule wardrobe and buy pieces that will last, both in terms of garment quality and your taste.
Read The Care Label
Speaking of garments lasting the distance, read the care label before you purchase anything. If you have plenty of time on your hands and are happy to hand-wash half of your wardrobe, go for it. If you’re a mum with three young kids to care for, that mightn’t be practical.
It’s so important to care for your garments properly. Understand what your garments require to thrive before you purchase anything. The last thing you want is for your favourite pair of pants to stretch unflatteringly because they aren’t receiving the love they need. If you’re going to invest in high quality pieces, be sure you can care for them properly.
Get Excited about Ethical Fashion!
We’re at the frontier of a new way of living. A way of living that demands better. Better for the planet. Better for workers. And yes, better for us.
Be proud and excited and enthusiastic about ethical fashion!
Be passionate about supporting new designers and fair wages and sustainable fabrics and innovation! There are ethical fashion alternatives out there for every personality, budget, style and demographic. Yes, it can sometimes take a while to find the perfect fit, but it is out there! Keep pursuing this new way of living. It will reward you every day.
And When You Feel Uninspired…
Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes, non-ethical boots will capture your attention as you wander past a shop window. For a few seconds, you’ll stare at them and think ‘maybe just this one pair…‘
But then something will happen. You’ll think of the underpaid workers struggling to feed their families as they’ve created these boots in dangerous conditions. You’ll think of the mother sewing these boots together in a dark warehouse, desperate to feed her children. Because they don’t have a choice.
But you do.
And suddenly, that choice will become extremely easy to make.