The 2018 Ethical Fashion Guide just came out! This guide is such a good way for us in New Zealand to get insight into how responsible companies are when it comes to looking after the people who make our clothes. It grades companies on four key areas, and where a company chooses not to participate it does its best with publicly available information. It also doesn't only focus on Australasia – international companies are often included, like TopShop and Victoria's Secret.
I was so pleased to see some of my favourite brands doing well (yay Kowtow, Zara and Witchery!) As I looked at the report I did a little mental assessment of what I was wearing right then and was pretty happy with the ticks (Witchery top, Everlane trousers – not rated in this report but radically transparent, and, ahem, ethical underwear too!)
I take this sort of thing moderately seriously. I'm far from perfect, but it's important to me, so I work at it. Some of my regular go-to brands are from the States and it can be harder to find information on them, but I still do try. I try to support brands that make an effort in their local communities, whether that be New Zealand or elsewhere. And – and this probably has the most impact – I do my best to shop thoughtfully, making sure that I truly love what I buy, know what I'm going to wear it with, and ideally, can sell it on when I'm done with it rather than putting it in a clothing bin.
That last one is an interesting point because there seems to be no correlation between the cost of clothes and how ethical they are. You can't consign brands like Glassons and H&M – there's no market because their clothes are so inexpensive in the first place – but both of those brands perform considerably better in the report than some brands that are easy to consign, e.g. Karen Walker and Trelise Cooper. To be honest, this just irritates me no end. If you're charging more for your clothes, it should be easier to ensure you're acting ethically, all the way along the whole supply chain. There really are no excuses for those companies.
I don't claim to have all the right answers or the perfect strategy, but I am glad this sort of information is becoming more accessible and more considered, by lots of different people. I like knowing this stuff and I like that we live in a world where it's not too difficult to make more ethical decisions when you have the right information. I've decided to keep doing what I started last year, and avoid shopping anywhere that got less than a B- in this year's report. That means no Karen Walker, no Ruby and no Ralph Lauren – but the good news is I have plenty of other options when I do want to buy something.
What about you – do you have a strategy to shop ethically? Will this report change any of your behaviour?