ethical wardrobe building

How To Build An Ethical Wardrobe From Scratch #6

Today I have a new tip on how to build an ethical wardrobe from scratch.

It’s been a little while since the last tip  – I have about hundred and one things I desperately want to write about here on the blog but it’s often difficult to find the time or energy.  Moral Fibres is such a tiny part of my life, and the first casualty when my life gets busy.  Aah well, kids are just little for so long, and one day I’ll have all the time and energy in the world to write here, right?!

Anyway, enough digressing.  Let’s get to business, I hear you say!  My sixth tip on how to build an ethical wardrobe from scratch is when you’re looking to buy new clothes to do your research.  Here are five good places to start when researching ethical clothes:

Balu

Balu is an ethical shopping Google Chrome extension that says it gives you ethical shopping suggestions as you search the web.  I’ve given it a go and this isn’t strictly true.  Balu doesn’t offer suggestion when you Google something, which to me is searching the web.  Instead it offers ethical suggestions when you use the sites of particular retailers, such as John Lewis and Debenhams.  I don’t find this particularly useful, as I don’t use these sites very often, but I guess it’s a handy reminder when I do to look at more ethical alternatives.

I’ve personally found Balu to be a little more useful when you use their shopping directory.  The directory is a little naive at the moment.  For example, a search for ‘navy top’ yields no results, but a search for ‘top’ brings up results.  A search for bag brings up a handful of results, even though there are more ethical bag retailers out there than you can shake a stick at.  Naive as it is, through Balu I’ve found some new to me ethical retailers, such as Birdsong (this coat!), and Wills Vegan Shoes, and they handily reminded me about Veja, the ethical trainer manufacturers, who for some reason I always forget about.

I think Balu will  definitely be a site to watch, as they grow and add more retailers to their directory.

veja shoes

Veja trainers

Ethical Consumer

Ethical Consumer are probably the oldest of the consumer guides, running since 1989.  They have a variety of sections – some free and some only accessible via a paid for subscription, however you can take out a 30 day free trial.  I find the ethical shopping guide section the most useful – the ethical shopping guide to ethical shops is really useful if you want to see just how ethical your ethical clothing is.  The guide to high street clothes shops is really useful for trying to shop as ethically as you can on the high street.  According to Ethical Consumer, top of the ethics league for ethical clothing is People Tree and H&M on the high street.

people tree ethical

People Tree Dress.

Good Shopping Guide

The Good Shopping Guide describes itself as an ethical shopping comparison site.  Completely free to use, as well as having a handy fashion comparison table, shoes comparison table and jeans comparison table they also have a handy ethical clothing directory.  According to Ethical Consumer, People Tree rule the roost.  Meanwhile, higher end high street store Whistles rates highest on ethics, with Fatface, Debenhams, New Look and H&M not too far behind.

yellow skirt

Yellow skirt from Whistles

Not My Style

Not My Style is an app that tells you how much your favourite fashion brands share about how they treat the people who make our clothes.  It’s not available yet, but it will shortly be available for download on iPhone and Android.  In the meantime, as part of the app development they have rated over 100 shops, and they have handily made that information available here on their website.

Project JUST

Project Just is a beautifully designed site which has an incredibly useful, detailed and well researched and constantly updated Wiki guide to worldwide clothing brands, covering areas such as transparency, labour conditions, and so forth.  As an example their guide to Primark is pretty enlightening.  They say if you can’t find the brand you’re looking to investigate, then submit it to them and they will investigate.

You can also shop using the Project Just Seal of Approval, which is a constantly evolving work in progress.  O My Bag, for example, have Project JUST’s seal of approval for bags.

ethical shopping resources

O My Bag

And, for some unapologetic self promotion, there are some guides here on Moral Fibres that I’ve put together – for example women’s ethical clothing and men’s ethical clothing, and more all under the fashion menu.  Some are a little old (Moral Fibres is four years old now!) but I do try and keep them up to date.  I’m currently slowly (very slowly) putting together an ethical kids clothing guide, and one on shoes.  Keep your eyes peeled!

A Word of Warning

Just to warn you.  Sometimes these guides contradict each other quite wildly.  For example, The Good Shopping Guide rates River Island highly, scoring 73/100 in terms of ethics, and awards them the “Good Shopping Guide Ethical Company” green tick.  However, according to Ethical Consumer River Island score just 3.5/20 in terms of ethics, and are in the bottom five of their league table, whilst Not My Style also say they are one to avoid.  I don’t know the answer to this.  Sometimes it feels like trying to shop ethically is a bit like licking your finger and sticking it in the air to try and guess which way the wind is blowing.  I don’t have the answer to this other than doing some cross research and sticking to brands that you know are doing good.

Have I missed any resources?  Let me know and I’ll add them here!

6 comments

    • I’ve just started following this board, although it won’t be an immediate issue for our family for another couple of years. It cropped up in discussion recently, and somebody mentioned that a couple of brands used to cover this age-range, but found it unprofitable. I think Peopletree and Seasalt were included. Anyway, for basics, some of the German/Scandinavian organic brands like Living Crafts might be handy, although they aren’t particularly stylish or cheap and have a lot of wool, so not vegan. Cambridge Baby and Lana Bambini stock a decent range of these between them.

      Reply
  1. Very helpful indeed. I think the discrepancy between different guides might be down to their criteria. Ethical Consumer have a much bigger range as far as I know. If you have a subscription you can change the emphasis of the different sections and maybe if you adjust that to the ones used by the Good Shopping Guide they will be closer in their recommendation.

    Reply
  2. This post is really helpful! I’m slowing replacing my old worn out clothes with more ethical alternatives. I do find that the clothes cost quite a bit more though so it’s going to take time to switch. Glad I found this post :)

    Reply
  3. Hey I’m so glad I found your blog, it is really useful and nice to have that sense of camaraderie- I too get so baffled and frustrated with differing ratings.

    I just wondered, do you know how Oliver Bonas rates for it’s clothing? As a fairly new brand, I can’t find any analysis online, but they are so big I would love to know how they rate….

    Many thanks, Vanessa

    Reply

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