If you are reading this blog, then you must certainly agree that we can have it all: gorgeous, luxurious things that are made ethically, with care for others and the earth. It is often difficult to know which products are made using sweatshop labor or unfit practices. So, we have come up with a Top 10 list to help you in your quest for soulful shopping.
10. Read labels. Find out where the product was made. If the products are produced locally (meaning local to the designer), the designers will be more directly involved with the artisans and more likely to care for their well-being. Also, local production saves lots of energy consumption because it reduces the amount of transportation and shipping of goods.
9. Fabric Check. Did you know that some companies spray their products with formaldehyde and other chemicals to repel insects or mold during exportation? Those chemicals can seep into your skin when you wear a shirt or pair of jeans. Yuck! Check your fabric. Organics are, of course, the best for your body and can be grown with little environmental impact. Also, natural fibers like silk, wool, hemp or linen, are good for the environment and also for your skin. Designer Alabama Chanin uses fabrics and thread that are grown-to-sewn in the USA. No chemicals are used in the entire process of growing, sewing or shipping her products.
8. Listen to your Gut. We all have that gut-or sixth-sense. It’s the reaction you have when you first see something or hear something- the reaction before you have time to think or rationalize. Pay attention to that when you shop. You may find that you can sense the people on the other side of the manufacturing process. PA designer Lorraine Pennington says that she wants her jewelry to empower the women who wear it, and so she thinks of that when she is creating a piece. When you shop Lorraine’s collection, you can feel that on a gut level. What your gut tells you is important. Listen to it.
7. Search Engines. The Internet is your friend. Search for the designers you like and research their manufacturing practices. No one can hide unethical practices with the articles, news, and information on the Internet. It’s a great resource to find new designers who match your ethical sensibilities, as well!
6. Shop Local. The less materials have to travel to get to their destination, the less impact on the environment. When designers use local products and manufacturers to produce merchandise, they maintain a personal connection to the people involved. Shopping locally helps the community, and that spirit remains in the product even after it has made it to your home. It may be difficult to shop in your community for high-fashion products, so find out if designers focus on local production. That’s just as important!
5. Quality, not Quantity. Let’s face it- it costs more to shop ethically. For some, it may even be cost-prohibitive. When you shop, focus on quality, not quantity. Buying one high-quality shirt in a classic style that will last for years may cost more at the onset, but it saves money over time. Many clothing products that are mass-produced lack quality and are made to last one season, if you’re lucky. Sweaters pill, colors fade, and fabrics wear down. A high-quality pair of jeans by Imogene+Willie is made to last a lifetime, even if you wear them every day.
4. Brand Loyalty. When you find a brand that you can trust to deliver great fashion that is socially responsible, stay loyal to the brand. You know that when you shop Alabama Chanin, you are going to get eco-friendly, ethical luxury. Likewise, any of the other designers on Project Artisan all have the same values. Designers like these follow their hearts, which can be a difficult path. Socially responsible shopping also means supporting those courageous designers dedicated to changing the way clothing is made. They need loyal fans and shoppers to stay in business.
3. Shop Mom and Pop. Shop smaller labels and brands. Know the stories behind the designers and manufacturers of your favorite fashions.
Support emerging designers who are going to shape the future of the fashion industry. Every dollar you give to small, independentdesigners like jewelry designers Debe Dohrer or Jill Evans Petzall, is one dollar less that goes into a corporation that employs sweatshop labor and uses unethically produced materials.
2. Recycle and Upcycle. Vintage articles of clothing and accessories define recycling in the true sense of the word. Green is the new black, right? Just ask Mary Kincaid! Plus, there are some vintage classics that transcend time periods. Beauty never goes out of style, and you can add some modern accessories to a vintage piece for a clever, fashion-forward look. The other trend we see is that many designers are using vintage materials and re-working them to create modern styles. When you buy recycled or up-cycled fashion, you are helping to save the earth.
1. Shop Highly Curated Sites or Stores. Shopping venues like www.projectartisan.com sift through thousands of designers to find the very best, most socially responsible options for you. That saves you time and energy. By shopping in a fair trade store or a site like Project Artisan, you can feel good knowing that the products you purchase have all been made with care, using ethical practices and eco-friendly materials. We consumers are becoming more savvy, and retailers are popping up in brick-and-mortar stores that offer great selections of socially responsible products. The Internet remains the primary source for eco-friendly and ethical shopping, and Project Artisan carefully selects designers that you can feel good about buying.