If we want to live more ethical & sustainable lifestyles, one of the best places for many of us to begin is to become more conscious consumers. This past couple of weeks the garment manufacturing building collapse in Bangladesh has been on many of our minds. It’s so easy to ignore the pesky knowledge that many of our clothes are made in sweat shops, but I think this past week many of us have said to ourselves ‘I must try harder’. Try harder to spend our hard earned money on businesses that share our ideals, rather than ones who act unethically.
It’s actually fairly easy to shop ethically these days, when there are plenty of Australian made, organic & fairtrade, handmade or secondhand options around. I know organic and locally made clothing often has a bit of a reputation as being rather expensive, so let’s break it down.
Secondhand / Vintage
My hands-down favourite way to buy clothing is op shopping or thrifting. I love that buying preloved means I’m getting something someone else might not have. It’s mostly about the thrill of the hunt – you never know what you might find! There’s plenty of vintage and secondhand to be found online as well – eBay anyone?
Pros: you’re reusing an item that’s already been loved – no new resources were used.
Cons: you have to find it first!
Lust-list: Vintage 1960s Blue and Green Silk Tropical Floral Print Wiggle Frock from VintageFrocksofFancy
This is a no-brainer – ethically made means that you’re purchasing something thoughtfully, which is hopefully made of organic fibers and been made by workers who’re paid a fair wage. There are many different accreditation systems for ethically made, but I like to look for fairtrade, organic and eco-friendly items. Ethical Clothing Australia is a good place to begin!
Pros: you’re supporting worker’s rights to a safe workplace and a fair wage.
Cons: there are heaps of labels out there who may not be as eco-friendly or fairtrade as they claim – look for accredited brands or ask questions!
Lust-list: Men’s Triangle Print Tee by People Tree
Making your own clothes is great. You can get a perfect fit, use any fabric you want, and the sky’s the limit in terms of style! Plus, you can pay yourself whatever you like! Just make sure to try and find some great organic or vintage / secondhand fabrics. Check out your local op shop!
Pros: you made it yourself! Sweet satisfaction.
Cons: you need to know how to sew. You can totally teach yourself though!
Lust-list: Bow Shirt 02 Pattern by BurdaStyle
And finally, there are so many independent labels around run by talented designers and makers creating clothing in small runs, making one of a kind pieces, or even making bespoke pieces tailored just for you.
Pros: support a local designer, buy something truly unique, and have it tailored just to you.
Cons: are there any?
Lust-list: Pink Flamingo Dress with Peter Pan Collar by Kissyface
If you have any favourite handmade or ethically made labels, great sources for vintage and secondhand or resources for DIY clothing please leave a comment. More posts soon!