Ethical clothing, sustainable fashion and conscious shopping have recently become the new black in the fashion industry.
And while it's not something that's happened overnight – or without great cost – it's all thanks to the average consumer deciding that enough is enough and changing their shopping behaviours.
But knowing and doing are two different things. Often, making personal change that affects the whole world feels like a daunting, too-big task better left to someone else.
We're here for you; sorting the good from the bad from the ugly is far from easy, so we've listed our top tips for shopping more ethically.
Define your personal ethics first
Ethical, closed loop, organic, recycled, sustainable, Fairtrade, vegan, conscious, slow fashion... There's a myriad of categories and nicknames for ethical clothing the intent is the same: changing the way the fashion industry impacts the environment and the people who work in it. Maybe you really care about organic fabrics and environmental impact. Perhaps it's the treatment of workers that fires you up? Whatever you're passionate about, there are plenty of brands and resources that can help you but it pays to know what it is that you care about so you can buy more mindfully.
Arm yourself with the right resources
The internet is a big place and it's worth it to have a helping hand so you can trust that what you're spending your hard earned dollars on is truly responsible and transparent. There are some amazing resources – many of them Australian – to make your ethical shopping journey easier. Here's a few of our favourites:
Good on You: This easy to use app is an in-your-hand guide, rating brands on how they treat people, the planet, and animals.
ECO.MONO: One of our faves (and friendly stockists), ECO.MONO is a capsule dresser's dream; the online hub stocks a thoughtful curation of independent ethical clothing labels with a monochrome and nuetral bent.
The Green Hub: Jam-packed with handy hints and information, this online resource is go-to for anyone thinking of making the conscious-living switch. Find fashion, lifestyle and beauty tips plus relatable, doable guides for living more green.
Peppermint Magazine: An oldie but a goodie. Pepperming Magazine has been filling its beautifully designed pages with ethical, conscious, sustainable fashion and lifestyle content for more than a decade and is a great place to start for advice and just straight up good content.
Ethi Collective: This is another great Australia online marketplace focused on ethical clothing, accessories and beauty products.
Known Effects: After witnessing the impact of rampant consumerism on people and the planet during their travels, the team behind Known Effects (another of our stockists) decided to create the change they wanted to see in the world.
The Conscious Cut & The Unmaterial Girl: Two blogs from two amazing Brisbane gals!
Wardrobe Crisis: Clare Press has been banging the ethical clothing drum for a while now. Her book was un-put-downable and the podcast is equally compelling.
Don't get too caught up in the language and labels
Terms get thrown around pretty loosely these days as big brands become savvy to consumer demand for buying better so greenwashing is more and more common. At the end of the day though, words like ethical, sustainable, vegan mean very little without genuine action. If the brand isn't responsible and transparent in its business practices, then it's all for naught.
Understand your style, body type and don’t buy based on trends
We've all been there; mindlessly browsing the racks of your local fast fashion mecca, buying pieces that you don't really love – or worse, don't fit you – just because it's trendy. There's nothing more disappointing than having that euphoric post-purchase high only to get home, wear said outfit in the cold, hard light of day and realise that it you don't really love it that much after all.
Know the certification lingo
From the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Fairtrade and OEKO-TEX® to Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) and Fair Wear Foundation, there's myriad standards and certification bodies that signify a brand's compliance with ethical and sustainable practices when it comes to both the human and environmental aspects of fashion industry production. Learn their meanings and keep an eye out for them!
Understand the line between want and need
Do you need it? Probably not. If you are brutally honest with yourself, you'd find that you genuinely need very little to survive. But if you want it, that's totally cool, as long as you can separate the two in your head. If you change your perception slightly to be more conscious of why you are buying something, take a moment to pause and consider your purchase, you'll naturally start shopping in a completely different way.
Ask yourself a set of questions while shopping
Questions like who made this, where did that material starts its life, how many times do I for-see wearing it, and does it fit in with my personal aesthetic are all good starting points when you’re out cruising the racks. If any of the answers make you feel uncomfortable, or you aren't sure, then it's a good sign the item isn't a fit for your ethical clothing policy.
Shop thrift, vintage and second-hand
Buying good, quality clothing doesn't always mean spending lots of money on brand spanking new clothes. While there are plenty of affordable, ethical clothing brands, we're all for hitting the thrift and vintage stores to repurpose and re-love something well-worn. Not only is the hunting for it an adventure but wearing pre-loved will give the clothes a whole new life.
Don't stress or feel guilty
We operate under a no-guilt policy at THE M|N|ML. And we wholeheartedly believe that celebrating the fun of fashion and enjoying style can, and should, go hand-in-hand with mindful consumption. Go easy on yourself; making the transition to a fully conscious and responsible mindset is going to take its time and there will be moments when you waver, of course. No one is perfect and fashion is supposed to be fun, so never let the size of the problem get you down. Change on a global scale happens step-by-step and the same is true of your own behaviour. Start with the small, simple actions that you can control, make it fun and take the stress away from it.
Let us know in the comments below how you shop ethically.