With the fashion industry now being one of the most wasteful industries in the world, we need to find ways to be better. Fast fashion has become a general expectation from customers; we want new styles at affordable prices, which means we’re fuelling the industry giants who have achieved their success through a complete disregard for ethical and sustainable practices.
Hence, I’m here to give you a few ethical shopping options that can help us all be less shit.
With a mission to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis,” this brand is clearly making a constant effort to debunk the normality of fast fashion. They create high-quality and long-lasting apparel, and also have a repair and reuse program – meaning you can really get your value for money! Make this brand a go-to for all your outdoor gears and be sure to check out their men’s streetwear for a stylish AND sustainable get up.
The footwear segment of the fashion business is a massive contributor as to why the industry has such a bad name. VEJA is challenging this trend by creating shoes using raw, locally-sourced, and upcycled materials. These materials include organic cotton, fish leather derived from the discards of freshwater fish farms, vegetable dyes, and fabrics made from plastic bottles – taking 3 plastic bottles to make one pair of shoes! While they are slightly on the pricey side, they’re awesome in quality and look pretty damn cool – plus you won’t feel shit about yourself when you buy them.
Etsy is an online platform that connects millions of customers with small designers all over the world. Not only are they epically cool through having women's leadership programs in the office, volunteering company time to charity, and composting office waste, but Etsy encourages creators to act ethically and sustainably across the platform. When you combine this with their vast range of products, Etsy quite possibly has everything you could ask for and more. Plus, you can even specifically search for goods that have sustainable and ethical values, leaving you with next to no excuses.
While these larger brands are all making great efforts towards a sustainable future, the best thing you can do to ensure you’re shopping ethically is to buy locally. Seek out brands from your community and support your artist friends! When you buy fashion locally, you’re keeping the profits within the economy, creating local jobs and even reducing your carbon footprint through the smaller supply chain.
Here are a few NZ brands that will give you that feel-good buzz.
Nope Sisters Clothing
Started by two sisters, Nope Sisters Clothing claims to make ‘dope stuff for good causes,’ and I couldn’t agree more. This epic brand sells rad tees, hoodies, dresses and more which all communicate an important message regarding awareness about breast cancer, sexual abuse, youth suicide, period poverty, eating disorders, and more. Their products not only provoke important conversations about these issues but every item sold gives a donation to a local charity regarding these topics. Plus, they use ethically A-rated cotton and have an upcycled range coming out soon – how f*cking cool?
This kiwi brand is a personal favourite, providing guys and gals with the grooviest gears for their everyday get-up. Started by two self-described ‘bums’ from Dunedin, Palmah is for people who live life less seriously through their locally made fun designs. They’re also super involved in the community, and did an awesome collab with the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital, releasing a collection that donates 20% of every sale to the facility. They also held a big backyard boogie for all the Dunners breathers that supported the cause. We love Palmah.
Obviously, buying second hand is one of the best ways to ethically get your fashion fix – reduce, reuse, and recycle people! And while there are oodles of awesome op-shops around the place (e.g. the Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.), sometimes you don’t want to spend hours looking through racks. Recycle Boutique sells quality and designer second-hand clothing, meaning you’ve got a wicked selection of pre-loved clothes when you walk in store. They also have partnerships with some pretty cool local charities, meaning you’re supporting your community as you shop.