Anyone can be an ethical fashionista. Yes, it does take time and work. From my experience, it’s a journey – not an overnight success. To get started on your journey, follow my simplified plan.
Understand what’s wrong with conventional fashion.
It’s difficult to commit yourself to an ethical fashion lifestyle without understanding what’s wrong with the conventional fashion industry. You can refer to my previous blog post about ethical fashion and why we should care about it [here]. It’s a great place to get started but I encourage you to find more sources of data that whether they are from Wikipedia or the International Labor Organization. Develop your understanding of the issues and you will naturally be drawn to more than others.
Define your values of ethical fashion.
Once you have a better understanding of the issues in the fashion industry. Define your values by prioritizing or selecting which issues you want to impact the most. You can choose to address all the issues with the conventional fashion industry or you can select only a few. If you value animal welfare more than all the other issues, then you’re an ethical fashionista with animal protection and justice values. I encourage you to try to incorporate more than one issue into your ethical fashion values.
Evaluate your consumption and lifestyle habits.
Now you’re ready to look at yourself and your lifestyle to evaluate what you can improve on. Think about your consumption at many different levels. You can ask yourself questions like: What brands do you buy from and how do they reflect your values? How often do you shop and how does that action reflect your values? What materials are your clothes made from and how does that reflect your values? Make note of your thoughts and responses in a notebook or on your phone. Don’t filter anything too much and be honest with yourself.
Discover brands & bloggers.
There’s nothing more fun than jumping into the ethical fashion community. It’s easier to give tips on how to discover brands and bloggers when I break it down into different fashion issues.
- Labor Issues – Whether you care about working conditions, child labor or forced labor, you’re focus is on the manufacturing process and how it affects the workers. Look for brands and companies that have a transparent supply chain and high standards for workers’ rights. Some companies are very explicit about these details on their website but question any information that sounds too vague. Look for ethical fashion bloggers who support fair trade companies and discuss labor issues on their blog too. You may discover new fair brands that way.
- Environmental Damage – When you care about how fashion affects the environment, you’re look for companies and brands that have sustainable practices. They tend to publicly share their low carbon footprint or use organic, sustainably sourced materials. Always ask about where they get their materials from if you aren’t sure. Look for bloggers who live sustainable lifestyles and talk about the environment too. They might provide lifestyle tips like reusing fashion items or share new brands to look into.
- Waste – If fashion waste is what you care about, then look for brands and companies who talk about reducing or reusing fashion byproducts. Some brands use recycled materials by upcycling them into new fashion items. They might also use leftover materials from other industries to create their products. Local consignment and thrift shopping is another great option. Online thrift shopping apps or websites have more options and easy to use as well. Look for bloggers who focus on reducing fashion waste by living sustainable lifestyles or minimalist lifestyles too.
- Animal Cruelty – Vegan brands are easier to find these days. Buying from these brands and companies is a fail proof way to shop. You don’t have to double check the materials all the time. On the other hand, finding brands that use humanely raised animals for fashion is a little more difficult. I encourage you look for bloggers that are also vegan or at least support vegan fashion. It’s easier to discover brands and learn more about vegan materials through blogs.
Create a plan of action.
Here’s the fun part. You can start to see your end goal more clearly. A plan of action will ensure that you set realistic goals and always know what to do. This plan won’t look the same for everyone. You should consider time, money, values and urgency. For instance, you might decide to clear out your closet and start from scratch. Just as likely, you might add to your existing closet. Set a reasonable timeline for yourself and take advantage of any breaks or time off to do more. Looking at your budget might help define your timeline too. Always remember your fashion values and evaluate your decisions accordingly. I would definitely recommend that you keep track of this journey; maybe start a blog! I’m working on a printable to help facilitate this step and make planning even more fun!
Repeat any steps as necessary.
You might discover that you want to address more issues or lighten your load a little. Maybe you need to re-create your plan of action because you’re busier with work or have more free time on your hands. You will always be discovering new brands and bloggers as this ethical fashion community grows. More importantly, you should always be self-aware of your consumption and lifestyle habits along the way.
These are my simple steps to an ethical fashionista lifestyle. I’d love to hear about your journeys and any questions you may have.