Where can I buy 'clean' clothes?
To be able to do that, you need to now what’s going on in the industry. Of all the things brands claim, what’s a correct reflections for the workers? It begs the question: Which brands can you trust?
While we do not operate as a rating agency for the fashion industry, we recommend the following practices for an informed approach to buying clean clothes.
First things first: Take Action!
As a global citizen, you empower garment workers when you raise your voice for their dignity, health and safety.
By taking action you gain the agency to educate other consumers on the true cost of labour and the critical need for action. Together we can convince brands to change the garment industry in the name of human rights. Asking your brand what it does to further worker rights means it knows that people care about this issue, more so than if you decide to spend your money elsewhere without speaking up. Joining in our campaigns means you add your voice to those of thousands around the world to demand change. Your voice as a citizen counts more than your wallet.
Buy certified ethical – and be wary of empty claims
In today’s world, buzzwords like “organic”, “fair trade”, and “ethical” are widespread among commodity-based industries. While these terms act as bait for the socially conscious consumer, their definitions and standards often vary from brand to brand. Indeed, some retailers exude a semblance of ethics based on a single credential. The facts that a brand uses organic cotton doesn’t exempt them from making sure the people making their its clothes receive a living wage. Basic labour rights cannot be swopped for the environment, or vice versa.
That’s why transparency is so essential to our cause. When consumers demand proof of ethics, brands lose a contingent opportunity to conceal labor abuse.
If you want to support the worker who manufactured your clothing, find out if the brand supports them, too. Contact them on social media or visit their website. (See below for what to look for and which questions to ask.)
- Ask questions to brands
- You can do this online via their social media channels, you can use this card as inspiration.
- How do you ensure decent working conditions in the factories where you produce clothing?
- How do you support workers in negotiation for their working conditions?
- Based on your manufacturing costs, how do you ensure the garment workers receive the wage they need to support themselves and their families?
- When violations occur at the factory where you bought your clothes as a brand, do you consider yourself to be responsible for full remedy when violations happen and do you act accordingly?
Unsure how to evaluate a brand's response?
Forward your exchange to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help.
Take advantage of vintage fashion and secondhand clothing
As an alternative to buying new, you can also seek clothing that is new to you – from secondhand and vintage stores or a clothing swap among friends. By selecting from these sources, you help decrease the demand for fast fashion and potentially reduce pressure on workers. It’s vital to know that while this approach is more sustainable than buying sweatshop garments, it does not address the working conditions of workers.
Factory jobs in the garment industry are a lifeline for many workers. Thus, the goal is not to eliminate the supply chain, but to adapt it into a secure, gainful opportunity for employment. Consider also what happens to clothing that doesn’t sell in the secondhand market. One destination for unwanted stock is with emerging markets in developing nations. For local garment workers, the influx of resale clothing can be a threat to their job security. If you support a secondhand retailer, find out how they manage their unwanted stock. Whether you buy clothing new or new to you, both come from workers who deserve respect and safety.