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ethical shopping

Fashion, Life & Style

How To Build An Ethical Wardrobe From Scratch #6

ethical wardrobe building

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!

Fashion, Life & Style

How To Build An Ethical Wardrobe From Scratch #4

ethical shopping

ethical shopping

As promised in my last installment of my how to build an ethical wardrobe from scratch, let’s talk about all things sales shopping.  Specifically on how to stick to your ethical guns when prices of things are dropping like mad.

Black Friday, which was only introduced to the UK a few years ago, but has caused chaos, is right around the corner, as are a whole host of other crazy sales that often pop up around this time of year.  Sales of up to 70% off aren’t that uncommon any more, even from ethical retailers.

It has to be said, I do like a good sale.  Being mindful of my budget, it’s a good way to buy the ethical things I need at a more affordable price.  I keep a mental list of things I need so that when the sales roll round I can fill the gaps in my wardrobe.

Sometimes whilst perusing the sales I will spot something not on my list that will make me go ooh.  If I can work out that I will wear it enough times to justify the cost per wear then I might consider it.  But before clicking the add to cart button, I ask myself one question: “would I pay full price for this?“.

For the list of things I need I know I would definitely pay full price for them.  It just so happens that I know I could get them cheaper if I just waited.

For those impromptu items that catch my eye, asking myself if I would pay full price for it keeps me in check.  If I’m only interested in the item because it is reduced, and I know I wouldn’t pay full price, then I know that I’m only tempted by the ticket price and don’t actually need the item.

I know only full well from my own previous experience that poorly thought out sales purchases just end up languishing at the back of the wardrobe, either worn once or twice, before being deemed not suitable.  Or worse, never worn at all.

A bargain isn’t a bargain when you don’t end up wearing it.  And a poorly thought out ethical purchase that sits unworn is almost as bad, nay, as bad, as a poorly thought out fast fashion purchase.  According to a recent survey the average wardrobe in the UK contains 11 items still with the tags on, which is pretty wasteful, and not just that but awful for our bank balances too.

Let’s be savvy together this coming sales season!

How do you keep your cool in the sales?  Do share your tips!