The clothing and lifestyle products industry, in its traditional form, is built on obscurity: Who made the T-shirt you’re wearing? How are workers treated in the factory that produces your shoes? What is the environmental impact of making the handbag you carry with you every day? The answers to these questions are often hard to find — and that’s no coincidence. Beneath the thick veil that shrouds the workings of fast fashion are a number of disturbing practices that treat people and the planet as disposable items… much like the cheap clothes these companies produce and sell.
The silver lining of this story is the innovative leaders of ethical fashion and lifestyle brands who do things better, and give customers access to the stories behind their products. The six ethical fashion and lifestyle brands in this article are to abandon tradition and find new ways to source eco-friendly materials, treat workers with dignity and care, and give back to their communities. This is a bold new world of fashion and style, and the prospects are bright.
Eileen Fisher: The Timeless Clothing that Lives and Lives
Eileen Fisher believes that clothing should be ethical, timeless, well made, and designed to work together, wear easily, and be part of a responsible life cycle. The company has a transparent supply chain freshness, and does not take shortcuts when it comes to workers’ rights. Built on the foundation of a circular economy, Eileen Fisher gives customers the ability to send back used or worn items, which the company either recovers and resells or completely reuses into fashionable new items.
EILEEN FISHER’S STORE
Parker Clay: Creating Dignified Work through Premium Leather Bags
Parker Clay creates a better bag through a better process with no shortcuts. The brand is obsessed with sourcing, stitching and every last grain of leather, leaning on centuries of Ethiopian leather-working traditions. By having its factory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Parker Clay can create a safer workplace with more sustainable production. To date, the company has created more than 400,000 hours of safe, stable and dignified work in Ethiopia, helping women to support families, develop professional skills, and ultimately, transform society.
PARKER CLAY SHOP
MADI Apparel: Providing Underwear for Women in Need
Recognizing that underwear is on the list of urgent needs in almost every domestic violence and homeless shelter, MADI Apparel is on a mission to provide shelter residents with clean and comfortable confidence. For every MADI item sold, the company donates a pair of underwear to a woman in need in domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, rape clinics and disaster relief situations. To date, MADI has donated underwear to more than 7,000 women.
MADI CLOTHING SHOP
8000Kicks: Super Sustainable Shoes
The 8000Kicks shoes are in a league of their own. Each pair is made with super strong hemp fiber and blooming algae, making these shoes durable as well as very eco-friendly. 8000Kicks also works with its manufacturing partners to increase their reliance on renewable energy sources, and invests in capturing CO2 with its hemp farms. Listen to an interview with 8000Kicks CEO Bernardo Carreira here.
Soapbox Soaps: Delivering Soap to Communities Around the World
Soapbox is on a mission to make the world a little safer through soap and hygiene. Soapbox products skip harsh additives, in favor of naturally derived nutrients for the best skin and hair days. Better yet, for every Soapbox product purchased, the company donates a bar of soap to someone in need. Each Soap Box product is stamped with a unique Wish Code which can be entered online to find out which specific projects benefited from the purchase.
SHOP SOAP BOX
KNOWN SUPPLY: Humanize Apparel Industry App
The KNOWN SUPPLY model is based on radical transparency, something that is often sorely missing in the apparel industry. When you purchase an item from KNOWN SUPPLY, you will have the opportunity to “meet” the maker; each product contains the signature of the maker who made it, and KNOWN’s online search function gives you the opportunity to learn more about each maker. Companies work with underserved populations to provide meaningful work and to demonstrate the powerful impact of clothing purchases if taken seriously.
KNOWN SUPPLY STORE