There. Let’s just heave that big old rock into the pond straight away. It’s all very well and good to fill you life with wellness and antioxidants and perfect Instagram filtered, tanned abs in activewear but if you’re achieving that through getting your superfoods shipped over from some remote location on the other side of the world, the superfood is so expensive due to our newer consumption of it that the locals who have eaten it for thousands of years can no longer afford to, the antioxidant rich certified organic whatever-it-is came in single-use plastic packaging that you didn’t recycle, your activewear was made in a sweatshop in Bangladesh and your perfectly white gym shoes were made by children… well… it’s all just rather empty, isn’t it?
(The disclaimer I will add to that statement is that value judgements about shopping and consumption habits only apply if you are in a position to choose where your money goes. The health and wellness industry and all of the advertising and media around it is inherently a middle-to-upper class construct. It is up to those of us who are in a position of choice to change the way capitalism works. We are the ones with the buying power and every time we spend money we cast a vote for the kind of world we want to support. We need to get better at using that power, rather than just vacantly consuming everything that’s in front of us.
I am also going to point out that I am not so far up on my soapbox that I expect everything you own to be ethical. My clothing and stuff sure isn’t. It’s a process. I am not going to throw away perfectly good items and create more landfill just because they don’t fit within the below criteria. I am just going to make better choices in the future, and I hope you might as well.
The latest Australian Fashion Report was just released. Have you seen it?
The Ethical Fashion Report is a measure of the efforts taken by clothing companies and brands to mitigate the effects of forced labour, child labour and worker exploitation in the garment industry.
In the Ethical Fashion Fast Finder you can find companies by brand or by grade. It is eye-opening stuff.
If you aren’t prepared to read through it in detail here’s an article from the ABC – http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/fashion-rankings/8451314
The cool thing is that the article shows that the Australian Fashion Report is working. When it started in 2013, only 17% of companies could trace their entire supply chain. Now 43% can. In 2013, less than half of the ranked companies wanted to participate in the report. Now 83% do. And they are changing their practices to better their grade. There is still a very long way to go with regard to paying a fair living wage. Only one on the entire list, out of 330 brands, did this. Disgusting.
In addition to the 70 companies on the Australian Fashion Report who got an A this year, a couple of years ago I compiled a list of ethically produced Australian fashion brands that (this is important) sell their garments for a price that is the same as what you’d find in any shopping mall in the country. I need to update it but here is what I had then:
(This list is by no means exhaustive. Also, annoyingly, I wasn’t able to find much by way of plus sizes.)
Master lists of ethically produced Australian clothing:
http://www.treehugga.com.au – clothing, accessories, jewellery and shoes. I am particularly taken with the wooden watches, sunglasses and iphone cases
Very tricky. Here is a cheat sheet to what all the brands are doing in Australia
https://www.woolerina.com.au/ – Made from merino wool sourced from the Glenwood merino sheep farm in Victoria, certified Australian made and fair trade
“The welfare of the gentle creatures that provide us with our wonderful wool is at the heart of our brand. That is why we only use wool that carries ZQ™ certification.
The ZQ™ accreditation programme is a world first, guaranteeing the highest standards of animal welfare for sheep and working dogs, as well as 100% traceability back to source. The ZQ™ programme is a world first in best practise farming standards and in our opinion is the absolute best guarantee of animal welfare that exists globally.
We source all of our Merino from farms where sheep live a natural and free ranging lifestyle where they can thrive, and are given extra feed at times of pasture shortage. The growers who raise them are required to meet the strict welfare code defined by the ZQ™ accreditation programme.”
men’s and women’s sleepwear and underwear
“Our sleepwear is made in India where the cotton is also grown, spun, woven and dyed. All of our garments are constructed with GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton, in fair labour, sweatshop-free factories. We visit our producers regularly to maintain strong relationships and trust between all parties. We believe this personal approach is the best way to ensure the integrity of each factory.”
http://www.veganstyle.com.au/shop/ – formal shoes, office shoes, heels
http://www.honestclothing.com.au – Specialising in shoes.
“Honest Clothing we don’t believe being ethical has to mean being expensive. We don’t just want to be selling to the niche of people who are passionate about ethical clothing but we want ethical clothing to be mainstream. That’s why we make our clothing range as affordable as possible to people on any budget.”
http://www.masterandmiss.com.au/ – 100% organic, Australian Made baby and kids clothing
http://ittybittygreenie.com.au – kids toys, clothing, crockery, bathing and skin care
“IttyBittyGreenie is proud to offer the latest toxin-free children’s products made by manufacturers that are committed to earth-friendly practises. Clothing made from organic materials, skincare that is chemical and preservative free, toys made from natural, sustainable sources, bottles and dishware that do not contain hormone-disrupting toxins such as BPA.”
http://aussieessence.com/ – Australian made men’s wear
http://www.etherealclothing.com.au – 100% organic, pesticide free and environmentally friendly. Designed in Perth by a couple of brothers who wanted something between casual and business wear to wear out.
“Daksha is an Australian based company founded in 2004 in the Noosa Hinterland town of Eumundi. Our focus has always been on providing funky clothing made from completely natural, fair trade and sustainable fibres for all of Australia. We believe in equality, sustainability, ethical trade and since our unique clothing is made with love, we guarantee you’ll love wearing it as much as we love creating it. read more about us”
“Blessed Earth is a trading partner of some of the world’s other leading organic suppliers and has traded with Sekem of Egypt from the beginning. Sekem specialises in turning desert into fertile land with the help of Bio-Dynamic preparations. Bio-Dynamics and the Demeter label lie in the heart of Blessed Earth. So does our Fairtrade certification.We also trade extensively with similarly ethical firms in India and Turkey. Our business is as much about the people as the products”
Including women’s underwear
http://www.bonsaikitten.com.au/ – for pin-up lovers
“Bonsai Kitten is designed and conceived in Melbourne, Australia. All Bonsai Kitten pieces are proudly and ethically produced in Bali, Indonesia in collaboration with Adopta Co-op, Widows from the Bali bombing.”
http://shifttonature.com.au – printed leggings, activewear, men’s, women’s, kids, bed linen
“Shift to Nature sources products from Designers and Labels who strive to produce Ethical, Eco, Sustainable products. Brands featured on Shift to Nature create beautiful items from Global Organic Textile Standard Certified Organic Cotton (GOTS) and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified Bamboo. Featured also are designers committed to using sustainable natural fabrics such as Hemp and Merino Wool and new eco-fibres such as Lenzig TENCEL. Some labels go beyond these to include certification by Fair Trade, IVN Best as well as their own high environmental and social production standards. In the production process our designers and manufacturers strive for chemical free and non-toxic textile growth and production.”
Specialising in organic clothing for babies, children, men and women. Our clothing range is Made in Australia using certified organic cotton, and the highest environmental standards are applied at every stage of the process.
Unitee has 100% certified organic cotton tees and clothing
“All of our shirts are made from 100% certified organic cotton which is grown in India without pesticides using around 50% less water in its production.
The t-shirts are made here in Australia in a sweatshop free factory in Sydney. We handprint each tee with a colourful range of eco friendly water based inks and then heat-cure the print to ensure a good colour-fast finish.”
https://fairtees.com.au – plain, unprinted tees. Good range of styles and colours. Also do a selection of jumpers and hoodies.
“Our ethical clothing range is skillfully stitched together in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Portugal and Romania. The raw materials, which include organic cotton and Tencel (eucalyptus fibre & organic cotton blend), come from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Austria. You can read more about the organic and sustainable as well as ethical clothing production methods and factory conditions on our site.”
http://www.organictees.com.au – custom printed organic t-shirts to show off your brand
Annnnnd… pretty picture to finish….
Yes, we can do better.