Since deciding to strive to be more intentional with my resources, committing to minimizing my consumption and choosing to support companies committed to sustainable and ethical production, I have noticed a big shift in my shopping habits. I can no longer waltz into Forever 21 and grab an assortment of t-shirts and so I have ended up spending [probably too many] hours combing through websites to find companies that embraced socially responsible, environmentally conscious practices while still creating beautiful clothes. Yes. These are more expensive than the department store. Yes, I know that it is a privilege that I am able to choose to buy these products. But I also know that, if I am honest, I probably spent more on clothes when I was consuming huge quantities of cheaply made fast fashion. While each piece may cost more, I am more inclined to care for it, to wear it often, and to wear it until it dies, as opposed to sending bags and bags to the charity shop.
So, in case you are in the market for some beautiful clothes that you can feel good about (and you don’t happen to be a grad student sitting and watching Stata code run while researching various clothing companies), I have created a little list of some of my new favs.
The really pretty things
I have long been obsessed with the brand Reformation. I feel they make the most beautiful dresses and are the sort of company that is aggressively transparent about manufacturing and their commitment to sustainability. Unfortunately, their pieces are also quite pricey. So, when my bestie decided to get hitched, this was the perfect opportunity to buy a dress from my dream company. Dresses like this that are effortlessly flowy, chic, and beautiful. Reformation ships from the US, but is not outrageously expensive to ship to Canada. I also was able to take advantage of their “Black Friday” sale.
The most versatile travel things
I was so excited to learn about Canadian-designed and manufactured company Encircled. Promising to simplify your wardrobe (and life) by creating beautiful and functional pieces, I bought Chrysalis Cardi which I know is going to be a staple in my regular life as well as a travel essential. Here are some of the ways this dress/scarf/shawl/cardi can be worn:
For the last two years, I have had a two-week clothes rotation, which has been my work uniform. (I introduce it here). It has transformed over the years, as the seasons’ change and my requirements shift (from a formal office to more casual grad student life). Since I know exactly what is reaching the end of its life and what bits I need to replace. I have been trying to find a brand that aligns with values, like ethical production and sustainability, continuing to move away from fast fashion. I just ordered my first garment from People Tree, a fair-trade and sustainable clothing retailer. People Tree ships to the UK for free, which is pretty great.
For the bottom half of my body, I am a huge fan of Nudie jeans. They are organic cotton and the company does free repairs (which I apparently need frequently), but I know a cheap pair of jeans would have become dust by now, based on the regularity of my use.
Sloggi undies – After years of wearing “pretty but ridiculous” undies, I finally reached the point where I am done wearing uncomfortable knickers. It took 15 years, but over the last few weeks, I have tossed the uncomfortable ones that always ride up or dig in and have bought identical pairs of black undies. Incredibly, the Evernew line has an unconditional lifetime satisfaction guarantee, which is actually amazing! The details are also great – no more annoying tags on the inside of these garments, flat seams.
(For those in North America, MeUndies might be a brand to check out. I have heard they are also supremely comfortable).
There are a number of outdoorsy brands that standby environmental and sustainable practices. Probably Patagonia has been consistently a leader in this area. All of the items I have from Patagonia have lasted beautifully, and they have a great warranty as well. Their “Worn Wear” initiative is particularly wonderful, celebrating the stories that we wear and finding ways of enabling us to use well-made products for longer.
Other brands, like more yoga-focused Prana includes a lot of organic cotton, recycled wool, hemp, and other sustainable products to make their garments. Again, these garments are well-made and high quality. This is a little more about their commitment to sustainability:
US brands that I would like to try
There are a few US brands that I think are innovative and seem to embrace ethical and sustainable practices, however, for whatever reason, they are not currently available internationally.
Everlane – One of my favourite bloggers has talked about Everlane many times, and so it has been on my radar (and Pinterest wishlist boards) for years now. Everlane’s slogan is “radical transparency” where they show exactly what the garment costs and actually talk about the details of the factories where their items are made. For example, here is the breakdown for a lovely oversized sweater:
Alternative Apparel – Alternative Apparel has some really beautiful, stylish clothes, but once I had painstakingly selected my favourites and went to checkout, I learned that they only ship to the US. I had filled up a cart with some beautiful garments, before realizing that Alternative Apparel doesn’t ship internationally right now. If you want 20% off, click this link: ttp://ln.is/com/RCRKV
Elegantees – This company provides income and independence to victims of sex trafficking in Nepal and have some really pretty basics.
Hope Made In The World – Hope is committed to sustainability but also to ensuring the supply chain is free of child labour and unfair labour. They do ship to Canada and the US but I have not had a chance to try out any of their products, although I am lusting after their baby alpaca sweater.
Would love to hear if you are shifting your purchasing practices to support companies that align with your values or if you have any winners to recommend!