3 Basics of Ethical Shopping

Ethically-made. Maybe your friend shared an article about ethical fashion on Facebook, or maybe you saw a sign touting an ethically made pair of shoes at a local boutique. Or maybe you just follow Emma Watson on Instagram. No matter how you came across the term, odds are you’ve heard of ethical fashion in one way or another. Let’s start out by saying that this little corner of the internet is a safe space, so it’s ok to admit that you might not totally get the trend (even if you did a quick Google search on it!) If you fall in that camp, you’re in the right place! Because we’re breaking down three basics of ethical shopping to get you started.

 

What Is Ethical Shopping?

We’ll start off by saying that there’s really no official definition for ethical shopping. There’s no governing body that tells us exactly what practices are ethical and what aren’t when it comes to fashion...but at Trace, we like to keep our definition simple: shopping ethically (also referred to as sustainable fashion) means that in the lifecycle of an item of clothing, every single person that helped create or sell it was treated fairly in the process. And we’re talking everyone–from the people designing, sewing, and assembling, to the people on the sales floor. Most ethically-conscious brands also take strides toward other ethical principles, too (like being environmentally friendly in production and packaging, and remaining free of animal cruelty). While no brand is perfect in this, there are a lot of great brands who are making intentional strides toward ethical practices and processes (Keep an eye on our blog if you’re curious about who those brands are! We’ll be spotlighting some of our favorites in the coming weeks.)

 

Why does it matter?

Remember the Bangladesh garment factory collapse in 2013? Over 1,000 workers were killed when the building owners insisted that the workers keep working–even after the building was deemed unsafe. It’s sadly just one of the many examples of the disastrous working conditions for garment factories, many of which are the powerhouses behind our favorite affordable clothing brands (think: H&M, Zara, and more). Unfortunately, the horrible working conditions aren’t the only thing these workers have to worry about. The majority of them make wages well below living income. But as long as we continue to support and purchase from these brands, not even disasters like factory collapses will prompt change.  

 

How does shopping ethically help?

You may find yourself thinking: could one more person shopping ethically really make a difference? The answer is a resounding yes! Think about it this way: the more people who start to make the effort toward shopping ethically, the louder our collective voice becomes. And that voice is starting to be heard by the fashion industry. After being exposed for paying their garment workers unfairly, H&M made the bold promise that they would ensure that every one of their garment workers would be paid a fair living wage by 2018. While they’re still working on making good on their promise, they’ve made strides to be more transparent about their working conditions and wages. Think of how many other brands will follow suit if enough people raise their voices!

 

So shopping ethically isn’t just a trend–it’s a revolution. It’s a way to give back and become aware of the world around us. It’s an opportunity to create change for good. So we here at Trace Fashion hope you’ll make your voice heard, and join us in the revolution toward a truly ethical fashion industry.