3 ways to embrace a more ethical approach to fashion

"Ethical fashion" can kind of sound totally intimidating. Adding the word "ethical" in front of anything can give it a super serious tone and make us feel like we don't measure up to the standards of "ethical" (you know, whatever that is.) Ethical fashion is something I have touched on in the past, and something I knew I wanted to explore through this blog. And what I've found? Ethical fashion doesn't just mean one thing, and there isn't only one way to embrace it. 

So if the idea of ethical fashion confuses you, makes you feel uncomfortable, or wanting to run the other way, know that a) you're not alone and b) this post is for you.

3 ways to embrace a more ethical approach to fashion

(and none of them involve purging your entire closet or boycotting your favourite store)

ethical fashion via Rebecca-Jacobs.com-1.jpg

Top: c/o Everlane Skirt: vintage Shoes: Zara Bag: thrifted

1 Care who you give your money to

In it's most common definition, ethical fashion refers to an approach to designing, sourcing materials, and manufacturing  which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment. 

There's a great quote by Anna Lappe; “Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” And embracing ethical fashion can be as simple as caring who you are giving your money to—caring what kind of world you are voting for. 

PRACTICAL STEP: Don't feel like you need to boycott all your favourite stores—just start to care. Ask questions, investigate their websites to get a better handle on their ethics, and be conscious every time you're handing over your money. Maybe there's one area, like basic socks and t-shirts that you can source from a company you would like to see more of in this world (like Everlane).

ethical fashion via Rebecca-Jacobs.com-3.jpg

2 Buy some things secondhand

There are a lot of ways to shop secondhand. And each time we do, we are giving these pieces a new life, saving them from landfills, and maybe even supporting charities or small businesses. (There's also a mecca of other reasons to shop secondhand I wrote about in one of my first! ever blog posts.) I also like to believe that by rejecting all the "new" fashion that is being shoved in our faces in favour of secondhand, we are standing up to the buy-and-discard culture of fast fashion. And that's awesome.

PRACTICAL STEP: Hit up one of the many places you can shop secondhand (here's a list) from time to time. You might start to be surprised at what you can find (and some bonus side effects like saving small fortunes).

ethical fashion via Rebecca-Jacobs.com-4.jpg

3 Change your shopping patterns

If you've followed this blog for a fair bit, you know that my #1 way to shop has been secondhand. Although secondhand accounts for a big chunk of my closet, I've been shifting my focus from how I consume to why. A more ethical approach to fashion means not being in a constant cycle of buying and discarding. A more ethical approach to fashion means buying less. It means buying with the intent to wear and keep longterm, and buying to express my personal style instead of just keeping up with the trends. 

PRACTICAL STEP: I'll admit it, changing buying patterns is hard. You have to fight against all the ways our fashion culture makes our current wardrobe feel inadequate. And resist the patterns of buying we've spent our lives creating (like "back-to-school" shopping, am I right?) So yes, it's tough. Here's a two-part guide to get you started.

If you take one thing away from this, I hope it's that ethical fashion is not some high unreachable standard—that you don't have to choose between expressing yourself through your style and being more conscious of your closet choices. Rather, it's totally doable, approachable, and you can start small—as small as just being aware. 

How does the idea of "ethical fashion" make you feel? What are the issues most important to you? How have you seen buying patterns change throughout your life? 



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