By Kathleen Elie, Founder Editor in Chief, Conscious N Chic
So you’ve read the headline, clicked on the link and here you are. You are either looking for new ethical threads or wondering if ethical fashion is for you. You are wondering whether fair trade pieces can provide the same dose of style and function you are accustomed to without breaking the bank. I understand where you are coming from. There is a widespread misconception, which has led many to believe that fair trade fashion is synonymous with bohemian style. As you will discover below, I am far from being a hippie, although my inner flower child likes to come out and play every once in awhile.
In a world obsessed with doing everything bigger and faster decelerating our fashion choices from fast to slow can be challenging. I’ve managed to build a closet to match my busy city lifestyle - edgy, modern and yes, ethical. You can do it too!
In these next few paragraphs, I’ll attempt to show you that ethical fashion is not only for hippies. So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Here are 5 of my favorite flower-power-free ethical fashion brands.
EVERLANE | Exceptional quality. Ethical factories. Radical transparency.
If you are new to ethical living, Everlane is a great place to start. I consider their website to be a one-stop shop. There you can find clothing, shoes, and home furnishings all meeting ethical standards with no fine prints. Speaking of fine prints, Everlane practices radical transparency by revealing the true costs behind all of their items. They also reveal how their retail prices stack up against the traditional retail markup of other companies on the market. They partner with top-notch ethical factories worldwide to produce their goods.
In addition, every Black Friday Everlane donates their profits to improve the lives of their factory workers. Last year’s profits went to providing safe riding helmets for 8,000 factory workers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Everlane designs quality, durable and effortless pieces for both men and women. Their latest women’s collection features tees, cashmere sweaters, French terry crewnecks, modern boyfriend jeans, light oxford collarless short-sleeve square shirts, Italian GoWeave easy pants, dresses, skirts, loafers, boots and the list goes on and on. Simply put, everything you need to create a beautiful fall closet can be found on everlane.com. It’s a no brainer.
KOWTOW | Sustainable + Ethical
Kowtow is a sustainable and ethical fashion brand. At this point you may be wondering what the difference between ethical and sustainable fashion is. Simply put, sustainable fashion focuses on the environment while ethical fashion focuses on the fair treatment of the workers involved in every step of the supply chain. Kowtow tackles both by being mindful, growing, recycling, reusing and insuring everyone in their production chain is not being exploited.
Kowtow’s cotton is organically farmed, trims are sustainably sourced, inks and dyes are free of chlorine bleach, toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde and aromatic solvents. They only use Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) approved washes to ensure the sustainable use and treatment of water.
Lastly, Kowtow is fair trade certified by the Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO). All their garments are made at SA8000®-certified organizations in India which insures workers receive guaranteed minimum wage, social security fund, pension fund, paid holiday leave, sick pay, medical insurance, subsidized lunches, overtime pay, workplace unions and free transport to their workplace.
Kowtow’s latest collection is perfect for women who want to achieve incredible style without looking like they tried too hard. The collection is feminine with loose-fitting silhouettes and quirky details. The color palette includes pastels and neutrals: mint, rose, navy, tan, white, cream, dark moss, black, gray and chambray. Kowtow also carries denim in addition to their variety of dresses, wide leg pants, oversized blazers, printed leggings, crew tops and jackets.
RAVEN + LILY | Fair trade fashion and home.
Raven + Lily is a fair trade lifestyle brand, which employs over 1,500 at-risk women in 10 countries to create and produce its fashion, accessories and home furnishing lines. They give them fair wages for their labor and empower them to earn a living for themselves and their families. In addition, Raven + Lily funds microloans for female entrepreneurs. This chic company that gives back was founded by Kirsten Dickerson, a well-travelled entrepreneur whose travels to over 30 countries, inevitably shaped her perspective and fueled her desire to use fashion for good.
Raven + Lily’s production processes honor traditional artisan crafts and technique. In their fashion department they offer tops, bottoms and dresses. Their pieces are minimalistic, novel and feature simple lines and silhouettes. I particularly fell for the Simbi Midi Dress, a black midi dress from Kenya. Its scoop neck, lightweight fabric and gold buckle detail make it the perfect office-dress for those working in communications, marketing or other creative settings.
You can visit Raven + Lily online or in person at their New York boutique and Austin, Texas flagship store.
VOZ | Creating opportunities for indigenous artisan communities around the world.
Voz, which means voice in Spanish, was created by Jasmine Aarons to protect the livelihoods, well-being and cultural values of rural indigenous women around the world. They provide these women with training, education and design leadership, which lead to beautiful fashion collections. Their goal is to empower women artisans who are politically and economically marginalized by offering them collaborative business opportunities and an outlet to express their creativity while supporting their families.
I fell in love with this brand at first sight. Their collections are on the pricier side of the spectrum but what Voz offers in sophistication makes it worth every penny. The elegant designs and craftsmanship surpass what some would expect from an artisan-made brand. They have mastered the delicate balance between show-stopping and wearability. Silk tops, statement dusters, delicate jumpsuits and chiffon skirts are only a few of the items on madebyVOZ.com. Imagine the possibilities.
PEOPLE TREE | Tree Huggers with Style
People Tree is a women’s apparel brand with sustainable and ethical sourcing and production processes. They have accreditation from the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), the Fairtrade Foundation and the Soil Association. They are also GOTS certified which mean that their products include at least 70% organic fibers and do not include any harmful chemicals. Companies with this certification must also manage their impact on the environment, and provide safe working conditions, no discrimination and no child labor.
People Tree’s fair trade and sustainable collections are extensive. The current collection features printed shirt dresses, jumpsuits, Tencel® & organic cotton dresses, tunics, corduroy jackets and fleece coats to only name a few. If that wasn’t enough, People Tree also carries accessories, jewelry and nightwear. They more recently debuted an eveningwear collection just in time for the holidays.
Like most fashion activists, I love fashion and that love drives me to challenge the status quo so I can see it grow to its full potential. The fashion industry that I aspire to contribute to is kind, empowering and fabulous, of course. I hope this post inspired you to shop ethically, knowing that it’s not only for hippies!
Always remember to stay conscious and chic!
About Conscious & Chic| Diving head first into ethical and stylish living!
Ethical living is near and dear to my heart but my goal when I created Conscious & Chic went beyond simply showcasing how I was living. I wanted to build a platform where members of my tribe could not only find the tools they needed but also shine by sharing their content. Today, Conscious & Chic is an international community of people who get it! They're fun, inspiring and understand that their dollar has power. They are constantly engaging and sharing products, outfits, food flatlays and travel pictures through the #ConsciousNChic hashtag which has become a growing source of sustainable inspiration!
My community believes that ethical living shouldn’t come at the cost of style. Living a sustainable lifestyle in tune with nature and the people it impacts shouldn’t be a luxury but a normal way of life.
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