The Best in Ethical Fashion: A Revolutionary Study
Fashion Revolution is a movement that encourages consumers to ask where their clothes come from and companies to be fully transparent with their fashion supply chain. The tragic Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013 was the catalyst for the revolution, highlighting the overworked, underpaid working conditions. 1,138 people died that day, with a further 2,500 workers injured. Since then, Fashion Revolution has become a movement and a chance to ask brands the question #WhoMadeMyClothes?
Here at BuyMeOnce, we carefully choose brands that are not only sustainable but ones that are also models of ethical fashion. We’ve curated a list of superhero BuyMeOnce brands who have heard the call of the Fashion Revolution movement and are happy to share their supply chain process, from the farmers who grow the raw materials to the factory workers who stitch everything up.
Swedish Stockings, the world’s only sustainable hosiery, was born out of the need for an eco-friendly alternative to stockings currently on the market. Nylon yarn is used to produce the modern pantyhose, but it is environmentally harmful, producing nitrous oxide that is 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The alternative, which Swedish Stockings uses, is EcoNyl, 100 percent regenerated nylon made from waste material such as discarded carpet, old fishing nets and other waste. The waste is collected through global initiatives, including Healthy Seas and Net-Works, which are run by volunteers or coastal communities in the Philippines and Cameroon. This raw material is then manufactured into EcoNyl in a special plant in Slovenia.
Swedish Stockings’ suppliers and factories, including the one where EcoNyl is produced, are carefully selected for their stellar environmental and employee policies and their location. Their entire supply and production process takes place in Europe following strict EU regulations. Swedish Stockings’ strategic location of its main factory in Italy lowers the carbon footprint when shipping to Swedish Stockings’ main distributors globally. The factory is also involved with social causes such as aiding the poor and the disabled and helping those who are battling addiction and rehabilitation.
Thought Clothing has always been an ethical fashion champion. They are founding partners of The Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF), a not-for-profit network of ethical fashion brands. Their fabrics are sourced from China, chosen because they were the best place to source out hemp fibres – the only fabric that Thought Clothing worked with when they started out. As they continued to expand their offering using different materials, they continued to source out eco-fabrics from China, a country leading the way in producing high-quality, sustainable bamboo, hemp and organic cotton. Thought Clothing has strict standards in place and only accepts raw products such as wool and leather from suppliers that are fully traceable back to the farm.
There’s also a lot to be said about Thought Clothing’s policy on domestic manufacturing. Not only does it eliminate the need to ship products unnecessarily from one place to another, but it also cuts back on their carbon footprint. They adhere to the International Labour Organisation’s standards; this ensures all their contractors, subcontractors and suppliers are paid fair, living wages, do not use child labour, work in safe environments and do not work more than 48 hours per week.
Patagonia has always been committed to change. From the decision to switch to organic cotton, finding traceable down and ethically sourcing their wool, they have never been afraid to look at alternative suppliers or create their own supply chains if no one meets their standards. They are fully committed to making sure that their factories, mills and their subcontractors abide by the strictest social and environmental standards, and they use a four-fold approach when selecting their factories with a dedicated team to select and audit.
Patagonia recently partnered with Fair Trade USA to bring Fair Trade products into their collection. A portion of the profits from their Fair Trade collection goes back to the workers into an account that the workers control democratically. Success stories include a group who started a child care centre, while another one chose to purchase raincoats for commuting during monsoon season. Additionally, Fair Trade factories have rigorous standards for health and safety, pay maternal and paid leave and ensure that no child labour is used.
The White T-Shirt Company
The White T-shirt Company has a fully traceable supply chain. Their cotton is hand picked, spun and knitted into fabric in Turkey, and the fabric is cut and stitched into shirts in the Green Cotton factory in Ukraine. The Green Cotton Group, a Danish founded company, has the strictest environmentally friendly, pollutant free standards. From there, the T-shirts are delivered to Denmark for one final seal of approval and to England where The White T-Shirt Company is based.
Their T-shirts are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which means that they also meet stringent quality, environment and social standards. With safe working conditions, no child labour and wage protection to name a few, The White T-Shirt Company is a model example of a company fully committed to responsible, ethical production.
We’re firm believers that we should be asking #WhoMadeMyClothes not just during Fashion Revolution Week but every time we make a decision to purchase something. To learn more about the ethical fashion movement and find out how you can help, head over to Fashion Revolution. With a collective voice, we all have the power to hold companies accountable.
Jana Pleyto now lives in New York, but before that, she grew up in minimalistic, sustainable households in Melbourne and London. 'Mindful curation' may not have been a phrase then but it turns out she’s been living it all her life! She loves her KeepCup, GIR tools and Swedish Stockings, and she is Head of Brand Operations for BuyMeOnce USA.