I LOVE the transition into the fall & winter season. As the weather starts to change and we haul out our fall & winter wardrobe, we head back to the shops to find this season's new looks to supplement our wardrobes. Sweaters! Scarfs! Leopard print booties! It's hard not to get inspired by all our favorite fashion bloggers and head out to upgrade our styles. There is nothing wrong with this - I do it, too (hello new leopard booties in my closet)! But I wanted to highlight 5 reasons why ethically-made startup fashion lines are where you should be investing your dollars this fall (instead of big-box, fast fashion companies).
1. It's better for our environment
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. The production and distribution of the crops, fibers, and garments used in fashion all contribute to differing forms of environmental pollution, including water, air, and soil pollution. Clothing lines that work hard to be transparent in their manufacturing and production processes don't have those values for fun - it's because they care about the impact they're making on the planet. By supporting these companies, you're making a conscious effort to reduce your own impact on our planet.
2. It's better for the people making the clothes
Most of our clothes are made in places where workers’ rights are nonexistent. Clothing from fast fashion brands like Old Navy, H&M, Zara, and Forever21 is outsourced to countries where human rights are either overlooked or entirely non-existent. Why? Because those companies can pay less to make more. The reason your Old Navy clothes are cheap (and even CHEAPER when they are on sale)? Companies force factory owners to pay their workers even less to keep their prices competitive.
Garment workers are often forced to work 14 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. During peak season, they may work until 2 or 3 am to meet the fashion brand's deadline. Their basic wages are so low that they cannot refuse overtime - aside from the fact that many would be fired if they refused to work overtime. In some cases, overtime is not even paid at all. The brands profit, and the people suffer. It's a really hard reality to swallow. The good news is, ethically-made clothing lines combat this by sourcing their clothing to trustworthy manufacturers - often made in the USA or in places they can regularly visit to check up on standards.
3. It supports new businesses
There are SO many incredible ethical fashion startups online right now - all of which were started at some point by one or more women (or men!) whose dream and passion it was to make a difference in fashion. These people (us included!) have poured their time, money, blood, sweat and tears into their vision. The only way they can succeed is by getting your support and your purchases. If you believe in a new company's mission and values - please support them by purchasing from them! That is the best compliment in the world.
4. It's better for your wallet
Yes, ethically-made clothing lines tend to cost more per piece on average than fast fashion companies. This is typically due to the reasons mentioned above - it costs more to source fabrics and manufacturers that uphold environmental and human rights standards - that's just the truth of it. But talk to any founder or designer that's working for an ethical brand and chances are, they aren't in it to profit. They're in it to make a difference in the world (and to hopefully pay their rent).
The benefits of ethically-made clothing is that while they do tend to cost more, they are made better. Their quality is substantially-higher than cheaply-made clothing - meaning, they won't deteriorate at the same speed (fading, rips, tears, pilling, etc). Think of it as an investment in yourself - not only are you treating yourself to a beautifully-made piece, but you will have that piece for a long, long time.
5. It's better for your closet (and our landfills!)
This point falls hand in hand with Reason #4. When you invest in well-made pieces, they will remain in your closet a lot longer. You'll wear them more, and are less likely to dispose of them during your bi-annual closet cleaning. 85% of our old clothing ends up in landfills - and clothing does not biodegrade. Instead, it slowly breaks down into smaller pieces of microfiber (again, not sustainable for the future of our planet). When you invest in an ethically-made item of clothing, your closet will transform into a beautiful collection of well-made, typically classic pieces that can be worn for years to come. What a wonderful way to feel good about your shopping sprees, no?
Megan Reilley is an ethically-made startup clothing line for tall women, by tall women. With your support of our line, you're making an impact - not only in the future of our company - but also in the future of our people and our planet <3
- MR xo