Reformation. Cienne. Hackwith Design House.
Ethical? Sure. Financially feasible?
IN NO WORLD.
(Except the one where you’re a fashion blogger, and people pay you to wear their clothes, but then I’d assume you wouldn’t be here taking CS 106A and MATH 51).
However, have no fear, folks. You can in fact simultaneously be a college student scraping change from the CoHo booths while pursuing ethical fashion.
In case you’re unsure as to why you should be doing this and not just buying the cute $5 dress on Amazon, here is a quick rundown on fast fashion:
As designers and clothing company owners realized they could make much more profit by following trends as they came and went, they began overproducing and hiring cheap labor to make up for the rapid speed at which clothing goes out of style. In an era where we’re buying an obscenely higher percentage of clothing and yet keeping it for about half as long, we are contributing to a system that underpays millions of workers for dangerous jobs all over the world. We are also destroying our planet by polluting our water and drowning our landfills in fabric waste.
Fair trade and ethical fashion companies are attempting to remedy the treatment of workers as well as educate people on where their clothes are from. They also aim to make quality pieces that consumers can keep for a longer period of time without replacing them or buying back into the fashion industry and, specifically, contributing to the production of more clothes.
Here lies my attempt to fix that problem — a list of reasonably priced, ethical fashion brands:
- Pact — Dedicated to 100 percent cotton, inclusive trends and better conditions for cotton farmers, this company is doing it all. They specialize in cotton products and are well-known for their loungewear and cozy pieces. Also, to celebrate Fair Trade Month, they have free U.S. shipping for all of October. You’re welcome.
- Mayamiko — Based in Malawi, this brand is a love song to African prints and inspiration, locally coined Chitenje. They are big on knowing where your clothing comes from and work closely and in a personal relationship with their tailors, pattern cutters, seamstresses and everyone else involved. Unique. Handpicked. Ethical. What more could you ask for?
- Thought — They are a UK brand (not to worry, with worldwide shipping) that is known for their use of natural, organic and recycled fabrics. They encourage lowering our impact on the planet by using material that requires less processing and therefore creates less waste. Additionally, all natural products are carefully regenerated. Their selection is plentiful, but 11/10 would recommend the Dalmation (Doggo) socks.
- Armedangels —This German company has been in the theme #DETOX, using chlorine-based bleaching techniques and avoiding heavy metals to protect their customers as well as the ecosystem, especially bees who are susceptible to pesticides. They also use wool as natural material to lessen the eco-footprint of outdoor clothing, which is usually made of harmful mineral oil and plastic. They are also a member of the Fair Wear Foundation and a licensee of Fairtrade, which work to improve lives for factory workers and farmers worldwide. They have something for everyone, including vegans.
- When all else fails, and shipping is just too difficult for the average college student, a good old thrift shop trip will do. Even though a fair share of clothing donated to thrift shops and Goodwills are originally from unethical companies, the simple act of not continuing to buy into the fashion industry and instead recycling uses of clothing is ethical in and of itself. There is a smattering of Goodwills within a 10-mile radius, as well as a personal favorite of mine, Savers, a mere 5.4 miles away in Redwood City and Thrift Center Thrift Store 7.2 miles away in San Carlos. Maybe “far” for our Stanford bubble but absolutely worth the journey.
It is easy enough to get that steal for the designer dress or ideally “just showy enough” swimsuit on Amazon or even to treat yourself to a miraculously cute and cheap party dress from Forever 21, but ethical fashion is so worth the challenge. The quality is higher, the personal fulfillment is greater and the world will last longer. A toast to prolonging the apocalypse — let us shop smart!
Contact Malia Mendez with more ethical shopping options at mjm2000 ‘at’ stanford.edu.