Ethical fashion can be a difficult term to define. Ethics are very different for each person and we don’t want to dictate what you should and shouldn’t buy, just help you to find beautiful clothes that may offer a more sustainable or ethical choice depending on your values. The clothes on this site are selected because they are beautiful and high quality clothes that are made to last and offer some sort of more ethical/ sustainable option than the usual high street offerings allowing you to choose depending on which aspects of ethical fashion are most important to you.
In order to decide on what ethical fashion means to you, you first need to understand some of the issues of sustainability and ethics that face the fashion industry. These range from the fact that fashion is cyclical in nature so is often thought of as inherently unsustainable to the issues of unethical manufacture and low wages paid to those working in the garment industry. An industry that encourages the constant consumption of clothing not only wastes valuable natural resources by also causes pollution at both the manufacturing stages and the end of the life of the product. Consumer hunger for ‘fast fashion’ that is produced quickly has lead to the inhumane working conditions faced by many garment workers around the world.
The cotton industry also has many issues with farmers becoming trapped in a cycle of poverty caused by the ever growing need for pesticides to grow their crops. The use of pesticides is damaging to the environment and to the health of those living and working nearby. In Uzbekistan where much of the worlds cotton supply is grown there has been much controversy over the use of forced child labour to harvest the crop each year.
The clothing industy also causes pollution and environmental damage in many different ways including the dying of clothing, excessive water usage and the toxic chemicals used to tan leather.
For many ethical fashion is also about the ethical treatment of animals. Many people consider products such as fur and leather to be unethical and would prefer to wear natural or synthetic alternatives.
Ethical fashion offers an alternative or better option than all or some of these issues and is usually thought to include:
- Made from sustainable fabrics including organic and Fairtrade Cotton, sustainable Bamboo, recycled materials and Tencel.
- Offering an alternative to buying new including second hand, vintage and clothes for hire.
- Made under fair trade principles or in ethical factories
- Ethically made in Britain
- Vegan clothes and accessories that are made without any animal products.
- Many of the brands featured also use a significant proportion of their turnover for charitable causes, are pioneers in ethics and sustainability and have a strong commitment to ethics and sustainability throughout their operations.
As you can see from the YouTube clip above, ethical fashion brands like People Tree are not only making a real difference to people living in poverty around the world but they also make amazing clothes that look and feel great to wear. When it comes to ethical fashion, we definitely think that you can have your cake and eat it! Great fashion, made with respect for people and the environment.
We hope to offer a fantastic alternative for those that are disillusioned by the low quality clothing on the high street. From pollution and waste of resources to human rights, animal cruelty and tax avoidance of well known UK brands, there are so many reasons to think carefully about where your clothes come from and how they are made. It is up to you to decide on what your ethics are, we want to help you find beautiful and stylish clothes that fit with your values.
Each brand has different values and certifications and we would recommend that you check their websites and corporate responsibility page to see whether their values fit with yours. Below are some certifications that you can look for to be sure that they really are following the principles that they talk about. The Ethical Consumer Website also has a really useful guide which includes the ethical and environmental rating for a range of ethical and high street brands.
GOTS (Global Organic Textiles Standard)