Fast fashion exploits the fact that people love a bargain to make us buy more for less. But cheap clothing and accessories are not made to last, low-priced items are more likely to contain lead (beware of bright and shiny handbags and wallets) and beading and sequins are a good indicator of child labour.
Kate Black, author of Magnifeco: your head-to-toe guide to ethical fashion and non-toxic beauty says that when we pay less, we also get less: less transparency, less accountability, and lower ethical standards and quality. Instead, she suggests we shop for V.A.L.U.E.:
V is for vintage or second-life: Does it already exist? Many resale items — either in second-hand shops or online — still have tags on them!
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A is for artisan: Does it support craft, empower women or alleviate poverty? Ten Thousand Villages and Global Goods Partners offer a range of fair trade goods from around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people in the developing world, largely women, participate in the artisan sector.
L is for local: Does it serve my community? Support local businesses, markets and makers.
U is for upcycled: Does it save something from the landfill? Designers that create products from someone else's discards include Urban Lace, maker of unique jewelry pieces laser cut from inner tubes, and Freitag, a Swiss company that makes messenger bags out of truck tarps.
E is for ethical: Does it support human, environmental or animal rights? What's most important to you? Match brands with your values.
Fair trade is no longer strictly for bananas, coffee and chocolate. Two U.K.-based brands — People Tree and Pachacuti — are the first fashion companies to be certified fair trade by the World Fair Trade Organization. Oliberté boasts the first fair trade footwear factory and PACT Apparel makes organic basics like underwear.
Want cruelty-free or vegan products? Matt and Nat is a Canadian, vegan bag brand and Vaute Couture and Brave Gentleman make womenswear and menswear, respectively.
What else would you like to know about fast OR eco-friendly fashion?
_Laura of Ontario commented on this blog to win Kate's book Magnifeco: Your Head-to-Toe Guide to Ethical Fashion and Non-toxic Beauty
Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green