Last month, I authored an op-ed in the Lansing State Journal about the importance of slow fashion and Retail Therapy’s commitment to being both stylish and eco-friendly. I want to do more than bring awareness to the skeleton’s in the fashion industry's closet—I want to empower you to make better choices and become an informed shopper.
Here are five ways to build a more ethical closet, no matter your budget:
EVALUATE WHAT YOU HAVE
Curating an ethical wardrobe doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. If you already own it, you aren’t doing the planet—or the people or animals who went into the creation of the garment—any favors by throwing it into a landfill. If you’re feeling guilty about the fast fashion you already own, don’t. When you know better, you do better. Make a concerted effort to make better fashion choices moving forward.
INVEST IN QUALITY PRODUCTS
Slow fashion isn’t cheap—in terms of price and quality. If you’re used to paying $4.88 for a tank top, you may find yourself with a case of sticker shock when you start purchasing garments that were made with quality materials by people who were paid a living wage. Don’t be alarmed—and don’t let it deter you from doing the right thing. Think of it this way: you’re not saving any money by buying a $10 T-shirt at Target if it starts to pill after the first wash. In the long run, purchasing quality clothing will actually save you money.
SUPPORT ETHICAL BRANDS
Cheap clothes come at a high cost. From the environmental impact to the human rights abuses that often take place because of “fast fashion,” I believe that brands should be transparent about the impact that they have—and that is why I only carry brands that are responsibly sourced, with the vast majority of clothing being cut to order and fair trade. When you shop at Retail Therapy, you can rest assured that you’re supporting brands that prioritize the fair and ethical treatment of people, animals and the planet.
TAKE CARE OF WHAT YOU OWN
The easiest (and most obvious) way to create an ethical closet is to take care of what you already own. Yes—even if it’s fast fashion. Caring for your garments the way they were intended to be cared for—whether that means handwashing, folding instead of hanging, etc., means they’ll need to be replaced less often and you can purchase fewer new items overall.
As you make the transition to becoming an informed shopper and commit to doing better by the planet, people and animals how can you make sure that the brands you’re purchasing line up with your standards and ethics? Not surprisingly, there’s an app for that. ;)
The app Good On You makes it easy to know exactly how the brands you’re shopping stack up when it comes to the treatment of people, animals and the planet. They look at a brands impact on workers across the supply chain, including child and forced labor practices, worker safety and wages, their environmental impact, carbon emissions and chemical use and disposal, the use of fur, exotic animals and consider whether or not a brand is taking positive steps to increase transparency and reduce harm.
Being a more informed consumer doesn’t need to be as complicated as it seems at first glance. If you’ve been shopping at big-box stores and find yourself wanting to transition your wardrobe to include better-quality garments that will last longer and are made in a way that prioritizes the ethical treatment of people, animals and the planet, we’re here to help.