A version of this article previously appeared on Stylewise.
Over the past year, the ethical community has (thankfully) started to organize itself in a way that makes it abundantly easier to shop for stylish, affordable goods that are sourced responsibly. When I started writing about conscious consumerism in late 2012, I remember looking far and wide for ethical things that fit my sense of style and being largely disappointed. I fumbled around for a while, trying to regroup, often settling for good enough instead of items that expressed who I wanted to be sartorially.
No more! Not only are there hundreds of ethical brands, you can actually find them! While Instagram is a great place to start, it can be time-consuming, and people don’t always use hashtags appropriately. Luckily, there are a few, more sophisticated options that lower the threshold to entering the ethical fashion movement.
They come in many forms, but they all accomplish one thing: make shopping easier so we can all work together to make life better.
1. Project JUST
“With no information, consumers continue to buy fast fashion; incentives stay misaligned; more fast fashion is made; abuses continue. Informed and empowered consumers have the power to transform the fashion industry to an ethical and sustainable one with each purchase.”
Project JUST began with one goal in mind: to give consumers access to the information they need to make a better choice. From defining jargon to giving thorough sourcing information for around a hundred prominent brands, Project JUST is a great place to learn about the conscious consumer movement and figure out more about the common brands you love.
2. Good On You
“We want to create a world where consumers’ choices drive businesses to be sustainable and fair. We know there are millions of consumers around the world who share our goal.”
Australia-based Good On You is an app and website dedicated to parsing out the ethical details of as many brands as possible. They employ hundreds of volunteer researchers and try to add a few new brands every week, in addition to writing 2-3 informative blog posts. I particularly like their roundups on types of clothing, like denim and activewear.
3. Done Good
“These are the underdogs, going up against the big guys, determined to prove you can build a successful business that makes the world better at the same time. We want them to succeed. The world needs them to succeed!
That’s why we do what we do. To help people looking for the unique, the simple, the natural, the good. To support companies with purpose.”
Just launched, Done Good is a Browser Extension that alerts you whenever you’re on a page that contains an ethical product. They’ll also give you exclusive discount codes for ethical companies when they’re available.
4. The Rescued Collection
“The average American tosses 82 pounds of textile waste each year, which adds up to 11 million tons of trash in landfills! Our Rescued Collection saves pre-loved ethical items from this fate with a carefully curated selection of vegan fashions.”
Ethical fashion retailer Bead & Reel just launched its ethical consignment store, and I’m pumped! I’ve found that once I have the opportunity to wear or use an ethical item, I can justify the expense. But it’s hard to pull the trigger on high-priced, ethically-sourced goods online when you can’t thoroughly inspect the item for quality and longevity. By offering gently used goods at a lower price point, you can buy it and see if it works for you, and then maybe invest in the brand at full price further down the road.
Learn how to sell here. Note: vegan, organic items only.
“SLOWRE (pronounced “slower”) = fashion, slower // pre-loved, modern, responsible style; the antidote to fast fashion.
SLOWRE sells and consigns women’s clothing, shoes & accessories by independent designers & brands that primarily produce in the US, provide supply chain transparency, use vegan materials, source eco-friendly fabrics, and/or engage in other responsible business practices.”
Founded by blogger Grechen of Grechen’s Closet, SLOWRE offers gently used goods from ethical, domestically produced, and small designer labels. The concept is similar to The Rescued Collection, but goods do not have to be vegan and the aesthetic leans more toward edgy minimal. I bought an Everlane dress from SLOWRE and it arrived like-new.
Learn how to sell here.
Each time I shop, I use a combination of the above resources to find the best option. I prefer to buy secondhand when possible, so it’s a bonus if I can buy an ethically-sourced item from an ethical retailer. Smart, easy-to-use resources are the key to gaining more traction in this industry, so I’m glad I can rely on the research, expertise, and curation of others to keep the momentum going.
Did I miss a resource? Let me know in the comments.
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Photo: Bead & Reel, graphic added by Leah Wise