We probably make hundreds of purchases every year. And, if you’re like me, a lot of those purchases are clothes. Often, I find myself drawn into a new collection, an upcoming promotion, or even just a cute scarf in the “perfect” color.
Even with so many options, I still find myself carefully deciding which of all the colors to choose. What fabric will work best for spring? Is it on sale? Can I buy both? Do I have an outfit this will go with? I ask myself all these questions so that I can make the very best decision with my money. But isn’t it strange that not one of my typical questions is “where did this scarf come from?”
Oddly enough, the answer to that question may be harder to find than we think. Many clothing brands do not have a traceable origin, so we actually may never know where our cute scarf comes from. Many clothing brands have moved their production phase oversees, but in doing so, they have not kept a firm track on where the products are actually being made.
Another question we should be asking about our clothes is who is making them. Unfortunately, the clothing industry is one of the largest industries using child or slave labor. After learning this, my cute scarf suddenly became much less cute. Yep, as much as we want to think that our name brand clothes are made honestly, this is not always the case.
While we can’t always be sure that our brand-named clothing companies are making the best production decisions, we can be certain of our decision when we choose to buy fairly traded, ethically made clothing. Plus, buying fairly traded clothes is easier today than I imagined. Here are just a few emerging and established clothing brands that are dedicated to provided ethically and sustainably made products.
- Everlane – Modern basics
- Nisolo – Handmade leather shoes
- Fair Trade Winds – Range of products
- Tribe Alive – Globally-inspired designs
- Raven + Lily – Incorporating traditional artisan crafts and techniques
- Naja – Lingerie
- Shift to Nature – Eco-friendly materials
For even more great ethical and sustainable brands, check out the full list here!
Just like many of these great brands, Elevāt is helping empower women all across the globe by fairly trading their handmade products. Elevāt is dedicated to cutting out the middleman and working directly with artisans to sell their work. We value relationships with our partners, which is why it is extra special when we can provide a picture and short story about the women who make the products we sell.
Elevāt’s Ecuadorian Tagua necklaces and Kenyan bracelets both come with a name and photo of the woman who made the piece. And with our Haitian Paper Bead bracelets, we get to learn more personally how our purchase impacts the women who make them – each bracelet comes with a story and photo.
This week is Fashion Revolution week – a week to remember the 2013 tragedy in Bangladesh when the Rana Plaza collapsed and killed over 1,000 factory workers. This tragedy sparked the discussion about knowing where exactly our clothes come from. Many people began to question the ethics of massive clothing factories in their treatment and compensation of workers. Fashion Revolution week is an opportunity for clothing brands and businesses to promote their supply-chain transparency and their commitment to make their clothes ethically and responsibly.
When we purchase ethically made, sustainable, and fairly traded clothing we can be confident that our money is not going to a multimillion-dollar brand that underpays its production-line workers. Instead we can know that the individual who made our new scarf is treated fairly and receives fair wages. We may even receive information about them with our purchase. This is what is so neat about buying fairly traded products! With each purchase we make, we deepen connections and trust throughout the world while proudly supporting talented and deserving artisans. I urge us all to, at the very least, think twice before we make our next clothing purchase and to consider where our money is going. We all make hundreds of decisions every year. Let’s be committed to make our next worthwhile.