magazines & hangers flatlay
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There seems to be quite a lot of bloggers (myself included) making themselves aware of the animal testing that goes on in the beauty industry, and shifting to cruelty free brands. Which is great! But what about the unethical practices going on in the fashion/clothing industry? What about the workers who don't have any rights? The child labour and sweatshops that nobody talks about? I want to make an effort to educate myself on these things; make myself aware of the issues and think twice about the stores and the brands from which I'm buying. I've been doing a little research, but there's so much conflicting information out there, it's hard. But the first step, arguably the most important step, is making yourself aware. Once you know what's happening, you're on the right path no matter how fast or how slow the changes you make are.

Essentially, the best way to avoid buying from unethical brands and funding their ~evil ways, is to buy second-hand. Buy from charity shops, from vintage stores, eBay or even depop! But I don't know about you, I couldn't do this for my whole wardrobe. Shopping in charity shops is hard work, trying to find something in your size and style; buying vintage or second-hand online is easier to find things in regards to sizing, but you never know the quality do you? And sometimes you just want new. If I want good quality basics, i.e. a white tee, I'm not gonna get that (easily) from a second-hand seller am I?
There is a big benefit to second-hand shopping however, and that is the hidden gems of luxury brands. Where else would I be able to get a Burberry jacket for £50? Yep, that is my best bargain yet. And if you don't have any good vintage stores near you - this was on the Oxfam website. A world of hidden gems! 
Three of the best online stores that I've found for vintage pieces are We Are Cow, Rokit and Beyond Retro. They also have stores in the UK which are worth a browse, I'm sure! Also, not to forget Vestiaire for high-end handbags and the like!

vintage burberry jacket

Although seemingly the majority of high street and online 'fast fashion' stores aren't rated well for their ethics, it is noted how a lot of them have stepped up their game lately. I read an article by Ethical Consumer which shows how workers rights have improved at a number of companies since 2011 and also the agreements which they have signed up to. Primark and H&M (surprisingly) come out quite well in this, but having good rights for in-store workers is only half of the battle. There's still the issue of the factories from which they source their goods! There's also an article from Moral Fibres which shows the scores that high street stores were marked when rated on a number of 'ethical' issues including environment, people & sustainability. All of the stores come out with a 'poor' rating, but it makes for an interesting read.
The article from Ethical Consumer also talks about the environmental impact and use of toxic chemicals in clothing, so is definitely one to check out.

The True Cost
If you've got a Netflix account, I can't recommend watching 'The True Cost' documentary enough. It's so eye-opening and really makes you think twice about where your clothes are coming from, what others are having to go through for us to have such extensive wardrobes. It shouldn't take something as devastating as the Rana Plaza collapse for people to start noticing the conditions which our clothes are being made in. 
And at the end of the day it's one big cycle which is never gonna be easy to break, huge companies aren't gonna want to take on responsibility for the factories which they don't own because that sacrifices their profits, and the people at the top of the companies, sorry, are (usually) all about the moneys! But it doesn't take a genius to know that companies success works on a supply and demand chain. If brands like People Tree are soaring and fast fashion falling, then maybe things will start to change. If only I could afford a wardrobe full of Stella McCartney, y'know?

Basically, finding out which stores and brands are ethical or not, is much harder to research than beauty brands and whether they test on animals. So it's easy to understand why people don't make the effort, but not totally excusable really! Brands that are rated high on being ethical are not only more expensive but often don't fit your personal style, so while I want to make more conscious choices, I think my first step is simply to start buying less. Reevaluate if I need another striped top, y'know! I'll be doing a lot more research though, for sure. But in the mean time, Liv Purvis did a great little video on some ethical brands she's loving!

Loves. Emma.