Whether it be factory management, its contribution to climate change or disregard for animal rights, the fashion industry has quite a few systemic problems. As consumers, we often don’t think about the process it takes to create the clothes we wear every day. When we buy from companies, we implicitly support their values and actions. And in the case of unsustainable fashion companies, we support their pollution and waste. Yet there are some brands effectively trying to cater toward both our inner pathos and our external sense of style. Here are five brands displaying an incredible, multifaceted approach to modern fashion and ethical clothing creation.
Everlane is a company that specializes in apparel for both women and men. Its practice of “Radical Transparency” ensures that the factories it works with employ fair labor laws. This transparency also translates to its communication with customers, honestly reporting to clientele how much it costs to make each item the company sells. This sort of honest, upfront communication about product and manufacturing details is almost impossible to find from any luxury brands; it is a brave, refreshing tactic to see implemented in the fashion industry. Everlane ranks its factories based on how they comply with labor laws and based on their economic efficiency.
In the same vein as Everlane is a company called Klow, which uses production practices both “not harmful to the environment” and “that empower and respect workers.” Almost identical to Everlane, its mission is to be aware of “Environmental Issues, Ethical Behaviors, and Transparency.” Both companies use their platforms to place an emphasis on environmental protection and worker rights. What Klow has that Everlane doesn’t, however, is a standing quote in the center of its website from Emma Watson saying, “I want to look good, feel good and do good, and that, to me is luxury.” This quote further emphasizes the magical power that comes from creating stylish looks that also work toward societal change.
Threads 4 Thought
The imperative and effective changes promoted by sustainable fashion are further displayed in a third company called Threads 4 Thought, which was launched in 2007 and has been thriving ever since. Starting off with simplistic graphic tees and now taking on the textile industry, the company has expanded into a multitude of different fashion facets. Threads 4 Thought offers a much more straightforward approach to sustainability, nicely complementing its simplistic, comfortable style. The mission statement of the company is: “Every time you buy a product or brand, you make a choice & cast a vote.” And since we’re right in the midst of the voting season, this company allows you to voice your vote even after elections have ended.
Just as we reform our country with our votes, Reformation aims to change the fashion industry in a similar way. While not as affordable as the other brands, Reformation is probably the most popular. By collaborating with organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, Reformation sets goals bigger than just making the fashion industry more sustainable. The company invests in green infrastructure, on-the-job training and more to reduce the carbon footprint of the fashion industry. Another aspect of the company’s practices that stands out is how it keeps shoppers informed about why they should make the change to more sustainable choices. Reformation’s website includes a page about all the different ways fashion has polluted our environment, which, while sad, is also incredibly moving and informative. The company gives first-time shoppers a reason to become more eco-friendly, whereas others work under the assumption that customers already have a desire to be sustainable — and already know why it’s important.
Finally, another powerful company working toward conscious fashion is thredUp, both an online thrift store and sustainable fashion emporium. Not only does it promise cheaper access to retail brands, but it also ensures ethical authenticity. With Instagram influencers, including a former Bachelor contestant, spreading its hashtag #secondhandfirst, thredUp has been making huge strides on the social media sphere. This more casual approach to eco-friendly fashion is just another way that thredUp separates itself from the other brands.
While the ethics of the fashion industry are often muddled, these companies are doing what they can to change that. An industry based on external looks is bound to be flawed. But, it is also an industry present in our everyday lives — making it the perfect place to start normalizing sustainability. While making fashion a greener, more socially aware industry may be a slow and expensive process at first, the fashion community is clearly sewing in the right direction.
Samantha Banchik covers fashion. Contact her at [email protected].