How to Find Ethical and Sustainable Companies
When it comes to shifting from fast to ethical fashion, I find the barrier for people is most often lack of knowledge and resources more than lack of motivation or conviction.
Finding fast fashion companies is easy because they're all around us and they're what most of us are used to. If you need a t-shirt or a pair of jeans or new shoes, you most likely have your go to places, some of which it took years to find. The thought of finding totally new "go to" places is daunting not only because of the time it could take but because it's often hard to know where to begin.
The wonderful thing is that the slow and sustainable fashion movement is growing, which means it's becoming increasingly easy to find ethical companies to purchase from and additional resources to help you make informed decisions about what you're buying and from whom.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Before you even start looking for your new "go to" stores and brands, it's important to do a little bit of analysis first and consider what your priorities and preferences are when looking for ethical clothing.
Learning about ethical fashion can be overwhelming at first not just because of the information overload but because there are a lot of different elements to consider — workers conditions and rights, environmental impact of fabric and clothing production, as well as animal rights and care. No brand out there is going to be perfect at everything, so it's important to take time to consider which elements of the slow fashion movement are most important to you.
For example, what if you find a pair of jeans from an ethical company who creates quality garments and takes proper care of their employees and garment workers...but it isn't made from organic cotton? Or you're a vegan consumer and find a great brand for staple t-shirts, but they also sell shoes made of leather or sweaters made from wool?
Determining your priorities before you even begin considering brands will help immensely in determining which companies you want to support and give your money to, and which ones you'd rather steer clear from.
GO TO GOOGLE
It might seem too easy, but we go to Google constantly for a reason. There is a wealth of information to be discovered through the powerful search engine — including a wealth of information about the many ethical and sustainable fashion brands out there.
It really can be as simple as putting "ethical fashion brands," "sustainable fashion brands," or "fair trade fashion brands" into the search console and seeing what pops up. The important thing, of course, is to still do reading and research once you've found some of these companies via Google search.
Go to their about or story pages and learn what's important to them as a brand, which will help you determine if their values regarding ethical fashion align with yours.
USE THE AVAILABLE RESOURCES
Chances are, when you first searched for "ethical fashion brands," you didn't get individual companies as much as you got lists of ethical fashion companies from an online magazine or blog. Rather than searching right away for ethical fashion companies, consider instead searching for ethical fashion bloggers.
The reason being is those ethical fashion bloggers (or YouTubers) have already done the research for you. They've taken the time necessary to research various brands, try their products, and in turn share those recommendations with you. Going back through old posts will give you a starting place, and many ethical fashion bloggers have brand directories as well, which provide an excellent starting point for finding those new "go to" brands.
For me, that starting point was the YouTube channel My Green Closet. Erin, the channel's creator, has tons of great content that helps you make smarter decisions about where you purchase clothing and what exactly you purchase, but she also has an extensive directory on her website that gives brands, online stores carrying multiple brands, and secondhand options organized both by type of clothing and by country.
In addition to My Green Closet, some of my other favorite blog resources include Buy Me Once, which focuses specifically on the quality and longevity of the items they recommend, many of which have lifetime guarantees; The Good Trade, which doesn't focus on fashion alone but on all companies dedicated to social good, and has an extensive list of resources and brands to check out; and of course, Fair Trade USA has some great recommendations for fair trade apparel as well.
(And there's an ever evolving brand directory here too!)
LET APPS HELP YOU
If you're still struggling to find new go to brands for certain items, eco fashion apps like Good On You may just be the ticket.
The app allows you to search any brand and find out the eco fashion rating based on its practices involving people, the environment, and animals. It gives you a breakdown of exactly what they do and how they do it, which is extremely helpful in determining if a particular brand aligns with your ethical fashion priorities and criteria.
One of my favorite things about the app is, in addition to giving you the rating for a specific brand, it also gives you highly rated brands that are similar. This is fantastic if you love the style of a certain fast fashion brand and have been struggling to find an ethical alternative.
It can certainly take a bit of time and the task may seem daunting, but there are tons of slow fashion advocates out there ready and willing to cheer you on in your transition from fast to slow fashion.