I've recently become really interested in conscious consumerism and ethical fashion, which encompasses the growing trend of creating more sustainable, environmentally-friendly products. I struggled to find a comprehensive definition online, but ethical companies are generally concerned with environmental sourcing and manufacturing of materials, carbon footprint reduction, and the safety of factory workers and consumers. Ethical companies aren't solely interested in mass producing items, making large sales, and gaining a profit. They think about the lives of the employees who make their products, as well as how their products impact the environment. Basically, ethical products benefit both people and the planet. Pretty cool, right?
Since I'm new to the world of ethical fashion, I did some research and found eight fantastic companies that are dedicated to fair factory conditions, providing sustainable futures for their employees, and using eco-friendly materials. If you're looking to add a few pieces to your spring/summer wardrobe, check these companies out!
TOMS | The One for One Company
TOMS is an incredible company. For every pair of sunglasses, shoes, or bag that you purchase, TOMS helps a person in need. They provide shoes, sight, water, safe birth, and bullying prevention services to 70+ countries around the world. In addition, TOMS helps create jobs by establishing manufacturing facilities in the same regions where they have a Giving presence. Since committing to local production in 2013, TOMS has created over 700 jobs, produced over 10 million pairs of shoes in five different countries (Argentina, China, Africa, Haiti, and India), and employed an equal ratio of male to female workers. I own two pairs of classic TOMS, but these sandals are adorable.
I know a bunch of people who are loyal to Everlane, and for good reason. Their basic t-shirts are great quality, and they start at $15. Affordable, ethical fashion. What's not to love? Everlane maintains a hands-on approach with their factories, visiting often and forming personal relationships with the owners. If you visit the Everlane website, you can see where the factories are located and learn more about them. In addition, Everlane is all about transparency. They're honest about the cost of production, and they don't try to hide their markup.
I stumbled upon Albion Fit while reading one of my favorite blogs, Something Devine. Albion's bathing suits are adorable (I'm definitely buying one before summer rolls around!), and the company uses eco-friendly materials in all of their products. They're a local, family-owned company in Utah, and their mission is to provide women with luxurious and flattering fitness and leisure apparel while staying committed to the environment and community. They follow fair labor practices with all of their employees and business partners to create a sustainable work environment. But seriously, I can't get enough of their high-waisted bathing suit bottoms.
Sseko Designs | Wear Sseko, Send a Girl to College
Sseko Designs became popular for their ribbon sandals, which are handmade in Uganda and can be styled and tied in hundreds of different ways. They also sell handbags and accessories. The company uses fashion to provide employment and scholarship opportunities to women pursuing their dreams and overcoming poverty. They also provide employment (along with access to a comprehensive social impact program) to their team of 50 women in Uganda. You can read more about their incredible mission here. I'm seriously lusting after a pair of these ribbon sandals.
The Reformation designs, manufactures, photographs, and ships everything right from their office/factory in Los Angeles, where their employees are offered fair wages and health insurance. Their "secret weapon" to sustainability is the materials they use. They make their clothes from sustainable materials, repurposed vintage clothing, and rescued fabric from fashion houses that over-ordered. In addition, their offices are green. They recycle, use eco-friendly packaging and paper products, and use recycled hangers and office supplies. The Reformation's products are a little more expensive than my budget allows for, but their dresses are beautiful. A girl can dream, right?
Threads 4 Thought is a lifestyle fashion brand that is produced responsibly and supports sustainable initiatives like the International Rescue Committee's New Roots Program. They have Fair-Trade Certified manufacturing facilities in China, Kenya, and India. You can read more about their factories here. In addition, they use sustainable and eco-friendly materials, such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, and lenzing modal (a soft, CO2 neutral fiber that's made from beech tree pulp). They're currently donating 100% of the profits from this shirt to the International Rescue Committee.
The Level Collective is an independent, ethical clothing label based out of Sheffield, UK that revolves around adventure, design, and change. You can read more about their mission here. They collaborate with artists around the world to create Ethical Adventure Apparel. The working conditions in their factories are approved by the FairWear Foundation, and they strive towards sustainable fashion by using organic cotton. In addition, their beanie hats are handmade in Romania by a social enterprise that works to create opportunities for families in poverty. I bought the sweatshirt below a few months ago, and I absolutely love it.
Nena & Co. is a textile company based in Utah and Guatemala. The company works with Guatemalan artisans to create hand-woven textiles that are used to make all of their products. This method provides Guatemalan mothers with fair incomes and plenty of time to care for their children as they work from home. When you purchase a Nena & Co. product, you enable Nena & Co. to make a difference in Guatemalan lives, whether it's by providing an education scholarship or purified filter water to those in need. You can read more about their social responsibility here. I absolutely love the bright colors and funky patterns of their bags.