It’s easy to forget the amount of time spent looking for something. It’s only when you’re looking does it feel arduous, like finding that earring back that fell under the bed. As soon as it’s back to holding your earring in, it’s like it never happened!
I realised over the Christmas period that I sometimes write about topics that have taken me years to get into them as if they’re the easiest thing in the world. Switch to natural beauty! Try clean eating! It’s all well and good to say, but it’s not useful if you’re looking to do the same.
I’ve decided to start writing guides to living ethically, and I’m going to cover the main topics on this blog, as well as any readers’ questions (so feel free to ask in the comments below!)
Why switch to ethical fashion?
This whole blog came about when I was reviewing my lifestyle after experiencing culture shock in Paris. I love the way Parisians do things – simple, understated, elegant – and felt my cheap H&M t-shirts weren’t quite up to scratch. I’d already turned vegetarian, was eating lots of organic food, and I decided to apply the same inquisitive eye to my clothes, both in terms of style and substance.
I was deeply troubled to find that the clothes I had been buying caused poverty and pain for millions of fashion industry workers. It was one of those revolutionary moments, looking down at a dainty Zara dress and wondering how such a pretty thing can come from system of exploitation, poor working conditions, and even death.
It was in that instant that I decided to change my buying habits, and hopefully that’s why you’re here too!
If you’re new to ethical fashion, the first thing to do is understand how high street fashion is produced, and what you can do differently. Documentaries such as The True Cost (currently on Netflix in the UK) will open your eyes to the plight many people are suffering because we’re used to buying cheap clothes without knowing the consequences.
I would also recommend watching this episode of Channel 4’s Dispatches, detailing the stress and poor conditions that UK workers face picking and packing clothes bought online. It’s a wonder that this is even allowed.
Understand the principles
The next step is to decide where your own ethics lie. Do you want to look for eco-friendly fabrics? Or perhaps only buy from brands protecting workers’ rights?
There are three key descriptors in the ethical fashion umbrella, and each represents something different:
- Slow fashion: clothes that are not governed by seasonal trends, classics, investment pieces
- Sustainable fashion: clothes made from materials and practices that are earth-friendly
- Ethical or fair fashion: clothes that pay a fair wage to their producers, garment workers, etc.
Ideally, I look for all three in the clothes I buy and share on the blog, but I use ethical fashion as a standard term.
Define your style
Getting into ethical fashion also involves changing your buying habits: with less trends, your wardrobe will slowly become a selection of classic pieces and accessories. It’s therefore a good idea to invest time working out your style at the start of your journey to ensure you’ll love your clothes for as long as they last you.
It’s also important to respect that the clothes you currently own: they may not come from ethical manufacturers, but they’re yours now and they’re your style!
The next step is to shrug off the fast fashion hug. By this I mean avoid aimless high street shopping, unsubscribe from newsletters, and stop following brands. By all means, continue to read magazines, books, and fashion journalism: we’re not talking about getting rid of style, just the urge to impulse buy.
Now you have space to follow alternative fashion sources. Ethical fashion blogs are popping up everywhere (try my ethical blog directory to help you get started), and sites such as EcoCult, Positive Luxury, and Pebble Magazine make it easy to find better brands to buy from.
The final step on your journey is to look for transparency – and when it’s not to be found, demand it. Apps like Not My Style rate shops on their transparency, helping you to divvy up where best to buy and where to avoid. If you can’t find out something, tweet the brand asking for more information (and beware the lawyer speak – anything purposefully unclear means they’re not proud about what they’re doing).
Now that you’re on your ethical fashion journey, celebrate it during Fashion Revolution Week, tag your Instagram posts with #WhoMadeMyClothes, and let me know if you have any questions – I’m here to help!
Thanks for the info Besma – such an interesting read!
I was wondering whether you would consider looking at Needle and Thread’s business model to assess whether they fit the sustainability brief?
Thanks for the kind words Sarah! Needle & Thread are new to me, but I’ll be sure to take a look!
Thank you for sharing this, I’m only just beginning my ethical fashion journey. So it’s good to have a starting point to go from. It only started the other day when I wanted to buy a new Summer outfit but didn’t have time to shop online as I needed it that day. I couldn’t find anything I liked, everything was polyester/nylon & it made me sad that I couldn’t get something more ethical so conveniently. Anyway, I can’t wait to have a full wardrobe of clothes I’m proud to own & feel good wearing them! Xx
I’m so happy to help Gemma! There’s such a good feeling in owning clothes that tell a positive story, and look good doing it too. I’m hoping to write more ethical fashion guides, so perhaps a summer outfit one should be next!
This has come at the perfect time as I’m looking to strip back my wardrobe too. I want to love every piece that I own and stop buying things on a whim and then never wearing them! I’ve done that with 2 items already this year and it made me realise I can’t keep doing it!
I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts on this subject. 🙂
Ah that’s perfect then! It’s the worst feeling, buying an item and almost instantly falling out of love with it. I’m hoping to curate a capsule wardrobe – if that’s something you’d like to do to why not start here: https://www.curiouslyconscious.com/2018/01/how-to-start-a-capsule-wardrobe.html/