I have always been somewhat of a conscious shopper, always asking the question, “Do I really need this? Am I going to wear it over and over again?” before I buy an item. But that didn’t stop me from constantly chasing the latest trends and finding excitement in buying new clothes. Of course, the best case scenario was if I saw something I wanted, and it happened to be on sale or what I deemed to be a “good deal.”
For a period of time, I was working at a fast fashion retailer. There always seemed to be something “off” about the way the store was running things, and how customers were constantly complaining about how $20 for a T-Shirt was too much money. One day, I was hanging up a sweater when I looked at the label, which read “made in Bangladesh.” At the time I didn’t know much about ethical fashion, but I knew that clothing coming from a third-world country such as Bangladesh could not have been produced under ethical conditions.
I quit my job and started doing my own research on ethical and sustainable fashion. I watched the documentary, The True Cost, and began following Instagram pages dedicated to changing the way we look at fashion. I started shopping at consignment stores where I was surprised to find perfectly good, clean clothes that were unique and fit my style. I fell in love with thrifted and vintage clothing, and didn’t buy anything brand new for months. This new way of shopping became exciting to me, and I realized I didn’t need fast fashion anymore.
Of course, the ethical fashion journey is not always easy, especially when you are surrounded by the tempting lure of stores with cheap prices and cute clothes. I have by no means conquered this journey, but I have become much more intentional and conscious when buying clothes, trying to remember that clothes make a statement, and I want to be able to wear items proudly.
In future posts, I will go more in depth as to how you can become an ethical shopper, but for now, I would highly recommend downloading the app, Good On You. This app allows you to look up thousands of brands, and they give them a ranking from 1-5 based on labour, environmental, and animal ratings. This app has helped me so much in determining which brands are worth shopping at, and which ones to avoid.
I now see it as a challenge to shop ethically and to find stores online that trace their entire supply chain, and have clothes that I actually like. Ethical fashion does not have to mean boring, bland basics, nor does it have to mean expensive, unaffordable, and unrealistic. I strongly encourage you to start your ethical fashion journey right where you are, and remember that baby steps are still a very important part of the process.