Looking for the best resources to research ethical clothing? I’ve got five places for you.
It’s been a little while I shared my last ethical shopping tip – working out your hourly rate. I have about a hundred and one things I desperately want to write about here on the blog. However, 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?!
The Best Places to Research Ethical Clothing
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 six good places to start when researching ethical clothes:
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 suggestions when you Google (or another Google alternative) 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. However, 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 a 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, and Wills Vegan Shoes. What’s more, 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.
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 if you’re looking to research ethical clothing brands.
I find the ethical shopping guide section the most useful. The shopping guide to ethical shops is really useful if you want to see just how ethical your ethical clothing is. Meanwhile, their 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, the top of the ethics league for ethical clothing is People Tree*.
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, shoe comparison table, and jeans comparison table they also have a handy ethical clothing directory. According to The Good Shopping Guide, People Tree rules the roost. Meanwhile, higher-end high street store Whistles rates highest on ethics, with Fatface not too far behind.
If you are researching ethical clothing, then I would take their rankings with a pinch of salt, however. They do rank both H&M and New Look highly, which I would disagree with.
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 on their website.
Project Just is a beautifully designed site that has an incredibly useful, detailed, 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.
And, for some unapologetic self-promotion, there are some guides here on Moral Fibres that I’ve put together. For example, my guide to women’s ethical clothing, men’s ethical clothing, women’s ethical underwear, and more are all under the fashion menu. I update them frequently, whenever I hear of new brands, so the guides are constantly evolving.
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 awarding 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. As such, they are in the bottom five of their league table. Meanwhile, Not My Style also says River Island 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 the ethical clothing brands that you know are doing good.
Have I missed any resources? Let me know and I’ll add them here!