If you are looking for sustainable clothing, but find it hard to find, continue reading ;) I had the opportunity to interview Ben and Jack, the founders of 'Ethical Clothing', about 7 ethical fashion questions I was wondering about. Perhaps you are wondering about the same, so I hope it offers some inspiration and tips & tricks!
1. Who is behind Ethical Clothing? What made you decide to develop it?
Ben and I (Jack) met whilst working together at Photoslurp, another startup that was founded by Ben back in 2015. We immediately found that we shared a lot of common views, especially on environmental issues.
As tech savvy people, keen to live ethically, we realised it wasn’t so easy to find genuine sustainable clothing, especially when you have something specific in mind. Even with the best intentions, shoppers can get sucked in by bigger brands that might appear ethical, but don’t live up to their green image behind the scenes.
So, to help the conscious consumer and genuine ethical brands, we began pulling together all the ethical clothing products we could find, so shoppers don’t have to scour the internet to ensure they’re making the right choices. As of course, in order to make ethical purchases we need a range of ethical options.
2. How do you choose which sustainable fashion brands are displayed on Ethical Clothing? How do you investigate greenwashing?
This is a process we’re continuing to develop: right now we vet our brands on a case by case basis, as we've found this is the best way to root out any greenwashing. As we dug deeper into world of sustainability in fashion, we found that automated systems are not quite up to the job just yet. There are a lot of brands that claim to be sustainable, when in fact around 85% of their range is made via ambiguous supply chains and poorly defined materials.
We wouldn't claim that all the brands we feature are perfect, but we only list brands that use an overwhelming majority of sustainable materials to produce their clothing. As more and more supply chain tracing technology becomes available, we are looking at ways of adopting this into our systems as well. Though the roll out of this system is still a little way off - we still have day jobs unfortunately.
3. What do you think about big clothing brands like H&M, Primark and Zalando talking about sustainability?
Good Question! Ultimately, we feel that there is a lot of talk, they say all the right things, but they very rarely back this up with any meaningful action. So they might promote a specific range that’s produced with sustainability in mind, whilst the overwhelming majority of their range is still produced as cheaply as possible. Its fairly simple from our perspective - sustainability and very cheap clothing are impossible to unite. I would add also, that over the last 15-20 years we have been somewhat trained to expect much lower prices for clothing than are sustainable. Society's general addiction to cheap/disposable clothing is something we need to crack.
Some more of our thoughts on this topic can be found in our blog post about circular fashion, where we discuss H&M specifically.
4. If often hear the comment that it’s very difficult to find sustainable fashion in larger sizes. Will you include this and do you know why it’s difficult?
This is something I haven’t heard before. I am a fairly large person myself and i haven’t experienced problems finding larger sizes. But that said, i probably have access to more ethical brands than most people. If i had to guess, i would presume that the extreme ends of the size spectrum are difficult to service for smaller brands that have tighter profit margins, just like the more ethical / sustainable brands. So this could explain the phenomenon.
5. I love the footprint calculator that you also developed. If we would like to calculate the impact about other aspects of our lifestyle besides our wardrobe, like kitchen, bathroom, or work space,… do you know where we could find this info? Any recommendations?
There are a few sites that calculate carbon footprints across a range of aspects, for example myclimate.org. It can get a bit tricky putting numbers to everything we do, but i think it helps put things into perspective for people, as well as highlighting how lifestyle changes really do make a difference!
6. If we can stop or start 1 thing today to be more eco-friendly, what would that be?
The easiest thing, and 100% possible for everyone, is to stop eating meat. Ideally all meat, and fish too. We just don’t need it.
7. If you have to choose 1 favourite sustainable clothing brand, which is it and why?
Tricky to choose, In the UK i would say Finisterre, and across Europe ArmedAngels do things pretty well on a big scale, which is nice to see. Plus of course there are thousands of smaller more boutique brands who deserve a lot of credit for their exceptional ethical practice as well.
Many thanks for this lovely interview. Wish you lots of success with your new platform Ethical Clothing!
Mixua believes that everyone can make a positive impact. Therefore we want to inspire on the way to a more ecological lifestyle. We do this through different activities like Eco Tours, online workshops and the online Discovery Guide.
More ecological inspiration and tips & tricks: