During the summer, I decided to hide inside from the heat and do one of my favourite things. Watch a documentary. Yep, I’m a devoted documentary watcher! I watched The True Cost, and learned so many things about the fashion industry (I did a blog post talking about the documentary here). Most being negative. Long story short, it opened my eyes up to my own shopping habits and forced me to make some decisions.
I almost immediately went through my closet and looked at the clothes that I owned. All I saw lined up, were fast fashion labels and an abundance of them. So, I decided there and then that I would stop buying from fast fashion labels. And as easy as the decision was to make, executing it was probably the most brutal thing I’ve ever done.
I’m an avid shopper and so I go to the mall a lot. But when you walk through a mall, you most likely won’t find any ethical options. Your best bets are Zara, Forever21, and H&M. Definitely no ethical brands. Once I realized I wouldn’t find what I was looking for in the mall, I went online and found tons of ethical brands. And they had amazing clothes! I instantly noticed a difference in the types of materials that were being used, the quantities of clothing being produced and the transparent business practices.
So, I browsed and picked some items off a couple of these sites. But when I got to the checkout, my eyes almost bulged out of their sockets when I saw the delivery charges. I was paying almost an extra $50-$100 in taxes and duties to ship to Canada. That’s when I learnt that almost all these sites were American and while shipping was free to the US, the same didn’t hold for us over the border. I did sneak around the system and shipped some stuff to the US and had someone bring it to Canada for me.
But the whole experience just made me upset at how hard that was. It just wasn’t convenient. And that’s when my bad habits sneaked up on me and I started shopping from fast fashion brands once more. Although I only made a few purchases, I did feel guilty. I remember buying a couple of things from Zara, only to come home and have my sister show me the latest article on their horrible labour practices. And so, all of that stuff immediately went back!
Thats when I realized that I actually wanted to get serious about the whole ethical fashion thing. No matter how hard it would be. But instead of taking a huge leap, I thought it would be better to take baby steps. A little more research also made me learn that ethical fashion and slow fashion go hand-in-hand. And slow fashion brands can be easier to find, sometimes even in your local mall (check my list below!).
Slow fashion doesn’t focus on fast production of the latest trends. Instead it takes on the approach of “fewer is better.” I’ve found that clothes from slow fashion brands are of higher quality and have a classic look to them. That makes you less inclined to wear the item once and then want to dispose of it.
There are honestly so many great brands out there, whether its ethical or slow-fashion, that give you the freedom to make better shopping decisions. And if those options are too pricey or hard to find where you live, then thrift shopping is always a great choice! Some of my favourite wardrobe pieces (including my winter coat) were bought from thrift stores.
With the year ending, I thought it’d be best to set some new goals for myself (like we all try to do). And right on the top of the list is to be more conscious of my purchasing behaviour and buy only from brands that align with my values. With baby steps and a little more resistance to the evil called “convenience,” I think the goal is definitely achievable!
I also decided to include a short list that includes some of my favourite ethical and slow fashion brands. Of course this is just a small percentage of the many brands out there. I do plan on doing a proper and comprehensive blog post on my favourite brands, but for now here’s a mini preview!
Favourite Ethical Brands:
Favourite Slow Fashion Brands:
Favourite Vegan Leather Brands: