An Ethical Fashion Shopping Guide: Ways to Shop Without Any Guilt

An Ethical Fashion Shopping Guide: Ways to Shop Without Any Guilt


The fashion industry has been quite notorious for negatively impacting the global economy and making severe dents on the environment. The world today has become very comfortable and used to apparel products available at dirt-cheap prices, which — to most people’s ignorance — is a result of exploitative and unethical production practices. Hence, embracing a more ethical approach to fashion is extremely crucial for contemporary consumers. Let us understand more about what ethical fashion is and how to incorporate the same into our shopping habits by reading ahead. 


What Is Ethical Fashion?


Often used interchangeably with slow fashion or sustainable fashion, the term ethical fashion specifically refers to fashion with a conscience. This means that no stage of production, from manufacturing to supply chain, has been carried out by any exploitation of labor, animals, or the environment. Ethical fashion is characterized by end-to-end transparency, fair trade, and the welfare of all parties involved in the production process, especially workers and artisans. Let’s understand the key components of ethical fashion below.


Fair Wages:


Ethical fashion ensures that the laborers and artisans working on manufacturing the products — producing the raw materials, weaving, dyeing, printing, transporting, etc. — get paid a fair sum for their hard work and dexterity. 


Labor And Artisan Welfare:


Laborers and artisans should be treated respectfully and in humanitarian working conditions. Ethical fashion recommends against sweatshops and undignified working conditions for laborers. This may also include conserving the skills and cultural legacy of local artisans, who produce higher quality garments compared to factory-manufactured apparel. 


Animal Welfare:


Ethical fashion strictly recommends against cruelty against animals. Hence, the use of animal-derived products such as fur and leather must be avoided to have an ethical wardrobe. 


Environment Welfare:


Kindness towards the environment is also an important element of ethical fashion. This includes production with low waste generation, use of sustainable and biodegradable materials, less carbon footprint, and less pressure on landfills. 


How to Make Ethical Shopping Choices?



The following are some steps every consumer should take to indulge in fashion with a conscience. 


Step 1: Say “No” to Fast Fashion


This is one of the places where the lines between ethical fashion and slow fashion may seem to blur. But, it is indeed true that buying less fast fashion goods and prioritizing high-quality and evergreen wardrobe pieces takes you a step further to being an ethical consumer. This is because most fast or “throwaway” fashion products are linked to sweatshops and unethical labor practices, as a means to cut production costs and drive mass sales (a study by the International Journal of Developmental Research). 


If spending more money on clothes is a matter of guilt for one, then buying items made through exploitative practices would be much worse. The less we encourage products stemming from unethical practices, the more we contribute to mitigating them. 


Step 2: Research About the Brand


An excellent way of making ethical fashion choices is by educating oneself. Just like we meticulously check out a brand’s clothing range and collections, it would go a long way if we research its manufacturing process and how end-to-end transparent and ethical it is. Some brands are purely dedicated to ethical fashion, whereas other brands may have a specific collection that does so. Hence, do your research before making a purchase, so you know where exactly the items in your wardrobe come from. 


Step 3: Check for Certifications And Labor Testimonials


Some brands are certified by ethical fashion organizations that act as proof of how ethical the manufacturing process of the brand is. Some of these certifications include Fairtrade, Fair Wear, B. Corporation, FSC, Bluesign, etc. Other brands add testimonials of their artisans and laborers at every manufacturing stage to keep the production practices transparent for the customers to see. When online shopping or doing your brand research, look into these specifications to help you make a better shopping decision. 


Step 4: Aim for 30 Wears And Beyond


Before investing in an outfit, ask yourself this one question: are you going to wear it at least 30 times? If the answer is an immediate yes, then you should definitely go and buy it. However, if you’re dicey about how often you will wear it, you should likely reconsider your shopping decision. In fact, 30 wears may also be a small number to aim at — if your outfit is high-quality, trendy, and attractive, the aim should be to wear it above 30 years without letting it look and feel old. 


Step 5: Look for Sustainable Materials


Beyond fair trade and non-exploitative practices, ethical fashion also involves being ethical and kind towards the environment. Hence, in addition to other factors, investing in sustainably made garments would further make you a responsible consumer. By doing so, you’ll know that the garments in your wardrobe are not increasing any pressure on landfills, contaminating water bodies, or depleting excess water or petroleum.  Some of these materials include hemp, lyocell, organic cotton, linen, etc. 


Step 6: Steer Clear from Fur Or Leather


Formerly an indulgence for many luxury fashion consumers, the awareness against using animal-derived ingredients such as fur, leather, and worm silk has influenced the fashion industry significantly. People are consciously opting for vegan leather, Ahimsa silk, faux fur, organic cotton corduroy, and similar cruelty-free fabrics that are kinder to animals and do not involve killing. Before making a purchase, you can double-check the garment fabrics on your end to ensure that you aren’t getting anything that is animal-derived. 


Fast fashion may seem inexpensive but comes at a huge cost to the environment and people’s livelihoods, which can make generations pay! By being more mindful of ethical fashion, we can shop with more intent and be much more in control of where our money goes. Moreover, we can replenish our wardrobes with high-quality garments that we truly need and let go of clutter. Ethical fashion is not a mere fad — it is a major lifestyle choice that would make a significant impact on the global economy and environment at large, ensuring no one gets exploited in the process of making us look good!


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