Growing up I was what people considered to be a shopaholic. I get it from my dad’s side of the family aka the Kiss’. I loved shopping, I mean I still do but, I’m learning to shop in a new, ethically (ethical fashion) and more meaningful way. Growing up I had the belief that you needed a walk-in closet full of clothes and found a thrill in going shopping to discover finds and purchase items for the cheapest amount possible. It felt like a game and I was always a winner. I took pride in the fact that I found inexpensive items and once I started university I learned about retailing and the markup process. I enjoyed the fact that the retailer wasn’t fully profiting by not paying full price.
As I’ve gotten older the idea of having a huge wardrobe and always going out to buy the latest trends has become less and less appealing. Consumerism enforced by technology and a social media driven society is something I don’t want to be a part of. Because the part of fast fashion no one in the western world understands, is that even if you don’t pay a lot for a shirt, someone, somewhere else, in another country does, and that’s not okay.
I’ve known about sweatshops since I was little, but never fully understood or honestly cared about them. As a millennial born in Canada I was a selfish child. And my generation even as adults and young adults are extremely self absorbed and feed into consumerism especially fast fashion.
In September 2016 I started an internship with a start-up at The Fashion Zone in Toronto. I was excited for myself about gaining job experience and learning hands-on about digital marketing. I worked at that internship for 8 months. In that 8 month period along with other life experiences I changed more as a person than I did in my last 19 years of life.
I was surrounded by entrepreneurs creating, innovating, and trying to make something good come out of fashion. If you don’t know, the fashion industry it is one of the largest contributors to pollution, and in general environmental harm.
I realized that I loved buying from small local businesses because you get to support people, and their passions instead of big corporations and men in suits. Supporting local businesses is something everyone should do at least once a month. Did you know that if each of us spent $100 a year more on local businesses instead of chain stores, it would put an extra $3 million a year into our economy? Not only that, but it would also create thousands more jobs every year? Considering that works out to about $0.27 extra a day, there’s proof that shopping locally (and making a difference) is more affordable than you think (The Chic Canuck). Every time I purchase something from a local business, entrepreneur or startup I make a connection with them, and love the brand more because of the person behind the brand that made it come to life.
Supporting slow fashion has so many benefits. Helping the environment, supporting people, their ideas, passions, and helping your local economy. Those all seem like amazing reasons to me, and that’s why I support ethical fashion.
Ethical fashion isn’t handmade clothes that are woven out of hemp. Ethical fashion has morals, values and principles behind them. Basic rights for workers making them (fair wages, working conditions and hours.) “A human in another country shouldn’t have to suffer because a privileged individual only wants to pay 8 dollars for a t-shirt.”
I support the #MadeInCanada and the #MadeInCanadaMatters movements and you know that if your clothing was made in Canada that it was made ethically because of labour laws.
However, I don’t solely believe in supporting Canadian and American brands. In a more privileged society, people’s opportunities to spread their wealth could create jobs in other countries. I feel that the privileged should be encouraged to assist with providing ethical fashion opportunities.
One company that does a great job in breaking down manufacturing and production process is Everlane, based out of San Francisco. They don’t just tell you where the item was made, factory specific but, they breakdown all labour, material and transportation costs and explain their markup compared to traditional department store retailers.
Here is a list of independent designers and slow/ethical/sustainable companies I love to support:
- Encircled (Save $20 with my link)
- Mary Young
- Nudy Patooty
- Wully Outerwear
- Mejuri (save $20 with my link)
- Free Label
- People’s Product
- Cassandra Elizabeth
- Hutchinson Montreal
- Little Nudniks
- Omi Woods
- Wear Your Label
- Yoga Jeans
- Aeon Row
- Tonic Activewear
- Girlfriend Collective
- Bare Knitwear
- Nicole Bridger
- Nacala Couture
- Two Fold Clothing
- Hetki a Moment
- Indecisive the Label
- Emma Lou Doll
- Uncle Studios
Living in North America we like to turn a blind eye to things happening around the world that don’t directly affect us. It’s wrong because we have the power and ability to help make changes. I now choose to turn a blind eye to fast-fashion companies because I don’t want to support the destruction they are causing the world.
If you want to support the slow fashion movement it’s easy. Just stop buying clothes from them, the fast fashion companies like, H&M, Forever 21 and Zara, just to name a few. Basically just avoid malls in general.
If you want to read more about why ethical fashion company founders chose to be a part of the solution, you can read the interviews I did with Kristi Soomer (Founder of Encircled), Sofia Del Giacco (Founder of Hutchison) and Jess Sternberg (Founder of Free Label).
Great resources to explore the topic:
Great ethical fashion bloggers and YouTubers to follow:
As a society we go through fast fashion clothes so fast whether they don’t wash well or they’re made poorly or we get tired of them. About 10.5 million tons of clothing go to landfills every year (The Atlantic).
Another alternative to buying brand new from ethical brands is thrifting. Never throw out your clothes unless they are unwearable. Always donate to organizations like:
Slow fashion is about investing in pieces you will actually wear and love and that will last a long time. You will always have something to wear.
We welcome you to share your thoughts about ethical/sustainable fashion or conscious consuming in the comments below. We would love to start a conversation with you!
Peace and Love,