Surely by now you have an idea of the negative social and environmental impacts of the fast fashion industry. At Hiptipico, we believe in a fashion industry which values people, the environment, creativity and profits in equal measure. We want to raise awareness to the fact that buying is only the very last step in a garment’s long journey involving hundreds of people. Together we can use the power of fashion to catalyze change! Not ready to give up shopping completely but still want to make a difference? We feel you! We’ve put together a short list of questions that you can reference when researching companies to make your own decisions about whether or not company deserves your support.
1. WHO: #WhoMadeMyClothes ?!
This is a big one. No matter how little you know about the social impact of the fashion industry, you’ve certainly heard about the heinous working conditions in sweatshops across the developing world. Fashion is THE most labor intensive industry in the world, and the majority of workers are women.
Since women also have the most global purchasing power, there’s a huge opportunity for us to use our voice to stand for the millions of women working in and affected by the garment industry. Recognizing and consciously remembering that they are real humans behind every product that we buy is the first step in pushing for change.
2. WHAT: What materials is it made out of?
Given the volume of clothes produced worldwide, what they’re made of takes a heavy toll on the environment. On top of that, marginalized populations are often the ones who feel the adverse effects of environmental degradation like air and water pollution, i.e. the very factory workers that endure poor working conditions go home to a neighborhood with poisoned water from that factory.
Ethical fashion brands are aware of these challenges and take active measures to use more responsible materials like linen, hemp, Tencel (lyocell), organic cotton, alpaca and recycled or organic non-mulesed wool. They might also use vintage or deadstock material to minimize their environmental impact.
3. WHERE: Look for country of origin and information about working conditions.
Are the clothes made domestically? In developing countries? Are workers compensated fairly? Are safety checks routine? If companies take the time and effort to do things the *right* way, they’ll be proud of it and talk about it as much as they can.
4. HOW: What is it about their model that makes you want to support this company.
Many brands will vaguely talk about commitments to sustainability, fair trade, or social impact. The sad truth is that lots are jumping on the ethical fashion bandwagon--through killer marketing they’re talking the talk but failing to walking the walk. If sustainability is truly a core value, you’ll read about it in a sincere and proven way. When these companies make decisions, they rely on guiding principles of sustainability and social responsibility, not just profits.
Truly ethical brands will be transparent about their business model from start to finish. They will also make statements rejecting the speed and volume of modern consumption. This approach shows a fundamental departure from the business-as-usual formula of pushing customers to just buy buy buy.
5. WHY: Read the brand’s “About” page for a sense of the company’s overarching purpose.
Context matters. If they’re saying all the right things but you still find it hard to believe, trust your intuition. Companies that truly care about these issues will ooze passion when they talk about them! You’ll be able to feel it from the way they write.
With this guide you should be able to weed out the *good* brands from all the trendy “fair fashion” chatter. Discover those companies + support their missions!
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