Many of you may know that I’ve just finished making a dress, and boy it took a lot of effort. I wouldn’t sell it for less than £38, and that’s not just due to emotional attachment, that’s covering the hours, sweat and intense concentration it took me. And yet, if I saw a dress hanging in a shop for £38, I can already hear the moaning in my mind of ‘do I really have to pay that much?’. And 80% of the time I respond with a no, and go find something cheaper.
My point is, it’s got to the point where clothes are cheap. And I mean cheap. I see adverts online with dresses for £7.50, I could find a cotton t shirt in any sale for £5…on the highstreet you could find a skirt for £6. And I definitely think that’s become the norm. The truth is, we don’t think twice about a low price, because we’ve become so accustomed to them.
We know why prices are so low: because shops are competing. Prices are pushed downwards to attract more customers, but in turn the people who can’t complain are the ones that pay. I mentioned a film on Netflix in my last post, its called 'The True Cost' if you’re interested. In it there were stories of women who had been locked in a room and beaten by men hired by the manager, who attacked them because they had asked for a rise. As if that wasn’t enough, eight-story buildings were also collapsing with hundreds of lives and sewing machines going down with each fall.
This may seem far off, the responsibility of the managers not us, but I want to point out that we have a part in this too. The managers of factories are put under pressure by us, the consumers, to deliver clothes at the lowest price possible. And after seeing that millions of workers are living from under $2 a day sewing our clothes, I couldn’t help but see some selfishness in it. Dare I say greed, that we who have much more money, want to pay low prices. It made me question my reaction when I jump with joy at seeing something for a low price. Is this even good?
We need to recognise that when buying cheap clothes, someone along the line has had to pay for them to be that cheap. Dresses aren’t worth £7.50. And the less we pay, the easier it is to throw away. The fashion industry is the largest cause of pollution next to oil…so the damage goes on; both for the environment, and for the individuals making our clothes.
Personally, I’m a sucker for Zara; but no, they don’t pay their workers any better than the rest. If I’ve learnt through reading into slow fashion it’s that I cannot excuse my Zara shops by saying ‘at least I don’t go to Primark’. Neither are ethical, both have caused humanitarian disasters in Indonesia, Bangladesh and China
Though I see more and more bloggers being conscious in this way on Instagram, around me I still see my friends sticking to high street shops without thinking anything of it. The attitude of ‘my friends go to New Look so I go to New Look’ is still strong as anything. And people look to their occasional purchase at more expensive shops as their contribution to being ethical, assuming the workers will be better paid, when this is sadly rarely the case.
So here's five ethical brands that look after their workers. There’s no living in slums, beatings, or unsafe buildings. Plus, the quality is gorgeous, and the fabric has been ethically sourced- which means natural, biodegradable materials (no nasty synthetics).
https://www.sondeflor.com/collections/spring-news This brand is oh so whimsical. Their Instagram is @son_de_flor and I have to say it’s the only brand I actually enjoy following, because their photos are just so dreamy. They focus on linen dresses, and it’s definitely not for everyone, but I enjoy how recognisable their designs are, and how in my head I just associate a sondeflor dress with a meadow.
People Tree have got some very pretty prints and are slightly more affordable than the others. I can see myself keeping a purchase from them for years.
Reve En Vert is so very stylish. They have some Parisian styles that make me want to redesign my wardrobe entirely and go live in the city of love.
This is the only one of the five which I actually have bought from, and each piece have lasted me four years and counting. My mum and I discovered Thought together, and loved how ethical it is. Again, the prices are much less scary.
Everlane have lots of elegant designs. From what I've seen there's plenty of option, and the material choice is always very good quality indeed.
I hope all this talk felt relevant to you and the way you view clothes. I think we all have room for improvement, and going into the shopping in preparation for summer era, I really want to consider shopping a lot more ethically.
Photos taken by @photog_ruthie www.photogruthie.wordpress.com