The Ultimate Guide to Ethical and Sustainable Fashion (Top 34 resources)
, by Effy Yu, 24 min reading time
, by Effy Yu, 24 min reading time
Ever wondered how the price for clothing has decreased over the last decades, while companies has increased their profits? Here you will find the answer.
The True Cost pulls aside the curtain that usually separates people from the hidden truth about many fashion brands. After seeing the heartbreaking living and working conditions of the people who make clothes, you will likely leave you looking at price tags in a different way.
It is also a story about the impact the industry has on our world. A huge part of the worlds' fashion is being produced in countries with poor environmental protection, enabling companies to chose pollution for higher profit, instead of sustainable production.
What gives this documentary such an impact is how well they present this important message, visually and story-wise.
Who really paid the price for the clothing you are wearing while reading this?
2. Made in Bangladesh - the fifth estate
This is a documentary that should not have had to be made. Unfortunately it is one of the most important documentaries in fashion.
In 2013 the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1129 people, and wounding over 2500 more.
Over 5000 garment workers were employed in the building, manufacturing clothes for brands such as Benetton, Mango, Walmart, and many more.
Before this deadly collapse, few gave a thought to the working conditions, as it was out of the spotlight. In the aftermath of the accident people were stunned, wondering how such a tragedy could happen.
In this documentary we learn more about the people who were left behind, and those who are still working in dangerous conditions, making clothes for world renowned brands.
Made in Bangladesh won the 2014 International Emmy® Award for Current Affairs programming, and is a sad and stunning documentary.
Are you inadvertently supporting child labour and modern slavery?
With every human being on the planet being a consumer of textile or clothing goods, it is key that we understand the impact cotton production has on the environment and our health.
You might already be aware that cotton production is harmful to the environment, but did you know that some cotton is harmful to your health?
This documentary tells of the many ways that the textile industry affects our world both locally and globally. It aims to help consumers educate themselves to consciously vote with every dollar they spend.
Fortunately a new direction for fashion production has begun. Organic cotton, efficient factories and ethical labor practices are emerging around the world. There is a growing conscience among designers to do the right thing, and the public is starting to catch on to the importance of this trend.
Would you feed your body food made with toxic materials?
If not, are you comfortable clothing your body in clothes made with toxic materials?
Thread Documentary Trailer from ThreadDocumentary on Vimeo.
1. You are what you wear: Christina Dean at TEDx HKBU
An absolutely fantastic talk about how we as consumers are supporting one of the most polluting and damaging industries in the world, and what we can do about it.
Dr. Christina Dean started Redress, focused on reducing pollution in the fashion industry. In this talk she shares fascinating and scary insights she has learned in her continuing battle to better the industry.
The clothes we wear really is a reflection of who we are on the inside.
2. Changing the world through fashion: Eva Kruse at TEDxCopenhage
The small things we do, matters.
That is what Eva Kruse's talk is about. How the small things we do can greatly improve our personal footprint, and how big an impact that has.
She also talks about how to reduce the negative environmental and social impact of the fashion industry, and our role as consumers in facilitating that change.
What type of clothing you buy.
How you wear your clothing.
What you do with it when you are finished using it.
Three seemingly simple actions, that when multiplied by the billions of people on the earth, can make or break our planet.
3. Don't tell me fashion is frivolous | Frances Corner | TEDx Whitehall
Professor Frances Corner's talk is a motivational wakeup call to start thinking more seriously about what we are wearing.
Clothing is cheaper and seemingly more disposable than ever. Fashion cycles are shortening. Is it any wonder that most of our clothes are treated no better than a fast food wrapper?
It is time to take responsibility for our clothes, and use fashion as the powerful force for good it can be.
We are poised for an exciting leap into the unimaginable, as fashion meets modern technology.
Autho Sass Brown’s book is a celebration of sustainability and eco fashion.
Through documenting how eco-fashion has achieved sophistication well beyong organic cotton t-shirts, she puts the case that for-profit companies can be a powerful force for good.
Particularly interesting is the focus she puts on independent designers, and how fast Eco fashion is set to grow.
Eco fashion is stylish, fun, and available at many price points.
2. Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution
In Naked Fashion, Safia Minney invites us to use our purchasing power to do good, and shows how to do it.
Be inspired to take action through interviews with creatives and designers. Get an inside look at what is being done to change one of the worlds most polluting, yet loved, industries.
If you are looking to understand how your purchases may positively impact communities, the environment, and support some of those most in need, this is the book for you.
Ethical Fashion brands are already positively impacting some of the most vulnerable communities around the world. Mamahuhu can attest to this :)
3. MAGNIFECO: Your Head-to-Toe Guide to Ethical Fashion and Non-toxic Beauty - Kate Black
An in-depth reference book for shopping ethically, matched with a guide on aligning your actions with your values.
In addition to looking at the challenges of the fashion industry, this buyer’s guide shows what to do about it!
Covering not only shoes and footwear, but also hair and beauty products.
It is now possible to look truly fashionably while dressing ethically.
If you want to read more about books on ethical and sustainable fashion check our full list here.
The Good Trade has turned into a powerhouse within the ethical fashion industry. Originally started as an online community for ethical consumers, it has now grown into a force for good.
The Cadwell's and their team is on a mission to drive significant social change.
By enlightening readers about ethical brands, products, and ideas, power and money is moved from unethical companies to those who are sustainable and free from forced labor.
What makes it so exciting?
It is working!
There is an ethical and sustainable alternative to every fast fashion brand out there.
EcoCult is a celebration of all that exists in the cross between beauty and sustainability.
With a lighter and fun tone than most sustainability focused blogs and publications, EcoCult makes going green fun!
Which is what it should be, and is! Look to Alden for inspiration and great reads :)
Living sustainably has never been cooler.
Jennifer Nini is the original Eco Warrior Princess, and has been writing about sustainability since 2010!
Jennifer and her team works from two angles.
First they work to raise awareness of the social and environmental impact by highlighting brands and people doing good.
Secondly they give first hand accounts on how it is to live life ethically and sustainably, with the successes and failures that comes with it.
A refreshing read, that will keep you entertained and motivated all at once.
Ethical and sustainable fashion is already a vibrant industry with so much to offer.
Fashion Revolution is best known for it’s “Fashion Revolution Week” where millions of people are encouraged to ask brands “Who made my clothes?”.
You might have seen this campaign in social media or traditional media already. People holding up shoes, or clothes showing the tag, imploring the industry to increase transparency of the supply chain.
Brands respond with photos showing the people behind the clothes.
These three photos are from Mamahuhu’s participation in Fashion Revolution Week 2017, and shows three of our master artisans working in Bogota, Colombia.
Behind every pair of shoes or piece of clothing is a human person, and you have the power to positively or negatively impact their life. Make it a conscious decision.
2. Eco Sessions
A global event series aimed at affecting positive change in the fashion industry.
They do this by bringing together industry, designers, and customers. So whether you want to positively impact your favourite brands, or just get to know the people behind it, this is a great place to start.
Wish topics such as “Fashion and Sustainability”, “Ethical Retailing”, and “Nontoxic Beauty”, it is no wonder it is gaining in popularity.
Currently events are held in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Montreal, London, and Berlin, we hope to see them expanding to a location near you soon!
The fashion industry is starting to wake up from it's slumber, so keep the pressure up.
This includes industry frontrunners (aka the brands who are already doing good), learned experts, policy-makers, and academics.
Part of the work is also to share and promote industry standards and solutions set to improve industry wide sustainability.
Fashion brands are feeling the pressure, and have started opening up to reforms.
It’s hard to talk about Spirit of 608 without first explaining what FEST is.
The acronym stand for “Fashion, Entrepreneurship, Sustainability, and Tech”, and it is the red thread behind Lorraine Sanders and her team.
With their belief that it is the future of the fashion industry, they work to showcase brands that embodies the FEST principles.
In this way they push for fashion to become a more positive force, for both workers and consumers.
Behind every ethical brand is an ambition person, fighting to make the world that little bit better.
Kestrel's podcast is all about the stories behind what we wear. Is there a meaning behind it? And what is the potential impact of our shoes or pants, whether it is positive or negative?
For those interested in learning about the fashion industry and sustainability, Conscious Chatter is a place to hear from people throughout the global fashion supply chain.
Fashion has a very long and complex supply chain, and in order to bring about lasting change, every part of the chain must evolve.
Rita Mehta lifts up and profiles “made in America” brands. This not only gives creators a platform to tell their story, it also helps consumers find local brands to support.
Although it is focused only on American brands, it is a celebration of local production, and I wish we had a similar podcast in all countries.
Buying locally produced goods is not only possible, it may also reduce your footprint.
Ethical Fashion Initiative has the goal of building a responsible fashion industry. They also have a great way of getting it done.
By connecting talented but marginalised artisans, mostly women, to the industry, they help create great products and ethical jobs.
By ensuring that workers get a living wage, earned in dignified working conditions, and with minimised impact on the environment, they show how ethical fashion can be done.
And we love their attitude of “Not charity, just work”.
In a way, they are creating companies like Mamahuhu, but in Africa instead of South America.
True ethical fashion is not dependent on charity. It is found where value creation meets ethical working standards.
Made-BY works with over 100 brands with the mission of making sustainable fashion common practice.
A non-profit consultancy company, they have gathered industry experts globally, with a focus on Asia.
Through their work they work to influence some of the largest companies in fashion to improve their processes.
By removing obstacles and providing the necessary knowledge, brands will start changing themselves.
Changemakers issues challenges to social entrepreneurs, including prizes, knowledge, and a frame.
By motivating and channeling the energy, Changemakers aim to bring forward solutions to critical social issues.
It is a great way to combine the power of Fortune 500 companies with the innovation and spirit of individuals and small companies.
For every problem there is a solution and a changemaker. Motivation is the catalyst needed to put them together.
For every problem there is a solution and a changemaker. Motivation is the catalyst needed to put them together.
DoneGood is one of the best resources for searching and finding alternative products that are made with a bigger purpose than sole profit. If you are looking for example for leather shoes/boots, DoneGood will suggest you handmade colombian leather boots from Mamahuhu who support unemployed artisans in Colombia.
So you get not only the product you are looking for but also a perfect alternative that does good either for people, environment, animals and much much more.
And there is no limits to any product categories: Fashion, Beauty, Wellness, Organic Food, Health, Outdoor, Kids, Travel, Sports …
DoneGood is the easy way to find all the ethical and sustainable brands :)
The giant within sustainable and ethical media. Working to make sustainability mainstream the team covers pretty much all industries.
By promoting products and policies that are well designed, they help lift up green companies and organisations.
Sustainability is achievable through better design.
It is hard to acurately describe Ethical Consumer. Since their start in 1989 they have become so big, and grown in so many directions.
They have published 167 issues of Ethical Consumer magazine.
They publish product guides, company profiles, and special reports.
They organize boycotts of un-ethical companies, do consultancy for companies looking to improve their ethics, and they even offer a Best Buy label for truly ethical products.
Thoroughly researched, they are a loved and trusted source for many ethical consumers :)
It has never been easier to live ethically.
In 2011, the Ethical Fashion Forum launched the SOURCE, an online platform of tools and services.
On one hand it aims to make it easy for companies to work sustainable.
On the other hand they work to make it easy for consumers to chose ethical companies, by promoting those who work with them.
Companies are listening. Keep up the pressure!
Charney Magri is an international, award-winning ethical photographer, on a mission to support responsible brands in telling their story.
Having first focused on why she wanted to be an artist, Charney buildt a strong portfolio.
This includes the book Women of the UAE, showcasing the women and their contribution to the region.
Then in 2014 she found a way to even more strongly impact the world.
By helping ethical businesses tell their stories and the “why” behind their business she helps creating positive social change.
Ethical brands are reshaping the fashion industry, but to succeed they need great partners.
2. Alicia Fox
Through her travels around the world as a professional photographer, Alicia came across some of the most vulnerable communities.
After seeing how they lived, she made the choice of only working with ethically focused companies and organisations.
Now she shoots absolutely stunning photos, while staying true to her own values.
Consumption does not drive happiness. A fulfilled life can be had with so much less.
Based in Berlin, Germany, Kristoffer is a professional photographer for green and social companies.
And not only is he working to promote green companies, his productions are green as well.
By using bikes as transportation when possible, and offsetting carbon emissions when travelling longer distances, Kristoffer offers carbon-free photoproductions.
Thinking outside the box yo may turn your positive ethical values into business advantages. Not only will it make you stand out, it will also make the world a better place.
Summer Rayne might be the world’s first eco and ethical fashion model. One thing is for sure, she is a true environmentalist.
Although it is her value based modelling she is most known for, her work also includes:
-Bringing sustainable practices to fashion
-Creating sustainable food systems
-Help people detox from sugar
And this is barely scratching the surface.
It is possible to be wildly successful (in the mainstream sense) and ethical/sustainable at the same time. And it will become harder and harder to succeed without being ethical.
Nerida is definitely a successful model having worked for brands such as Gucci, Dior, Hermès, and Ralph Lauren.
She now works as a User Experience designer to ethical brands.
Additionally she works to raise the profile of social and environmental responsibility in fashion.
As if that is not impressive enough, Nerida has also written for The Guardian Sustainable Business, and taught Environmental Sociology.
There are a myriad ways of earning a living while staying true to your beliefs.
Amanda works exclusively with brands who share her values.
And with a focus on living gently, ethically, and in harmony with nature, it is no wonder she has been name Australia’s only eco-model.
She is also a qualified life coach, teaching teen girls, and training women to be youth mentors.
Living ethically and sustainably is good not only for the earth, but for us personally as well.
Jasmin was the founding managing editor of the ethical fashion website Ecouterre, which is also on this list.
With over twenty years as a writer, she has covered many topics. Yet she has kept a focus on the fashion industry’s social and environmental impact.
Through her work she has been part of setting the stage for the ethical and sustainable movement we are experiencing today.
Without skilled writers and communicators like Jasmin, ethical and sustainable fashion would still be an unknown topic.
2. Clare Press
A passionate advocate for responsible fashion, Clare is the editor of Marie Claire Australia.
She also currently writes for Daily Life about sustainable style, and previously Australian Vogue.
Recently she published “Wardrobe Crisis” to explore the history and ethics of aparel.
With these powerful platforms she is doing a ton of good.
Sustainable fashion is hitting it’s stride, forcing the rest of industry to change or disappear.
3. Marion Hume
Hume is a lifelong activist, and has been writing since 1985.
She has worked as consultant for the Ethical Fashion initiative, building bridges between fashion and development.
Work there included putting marginalized artisans together with top designers such as Christian Louboutin.
She now works as a consultant on social and environmental ethics for luxury brands.
“Clothes is an incredibly democratic form of self-expression.”
Dressing according to your beliefs, you can influence the way the world works.
If you got something from this guide, please remember to share the ultimate guide to ethical fashion, because that is how the movement grows.
PS. Are we missing a category, or is there someone missing from from our top 3, leave a comment below and let us know!
We are an ethical fashion brand hand-making beautiful shoes in Colombia and Spain. Check out our shoes, or learn more about how we give.
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