Ethically Made Clothing Companies.

February 25, 2015

Americans are currently spending over 200 Billion dollars a year on retail merchandise (source). And every day, there are thousands of workers in sweatshops across the globe making just $1 to $2 to provide for their whole family. There are very harsh conditions in sweatshops across the globe, and many of deaths occur as a result.

Ever since I was a teenager I have bought my own clothes. I worked various jobs, and was taught at a young age the value of earning your own dollar. My style changed and evolved, but I usually frequented the same shops. I never gave much thought to buying higher quality ethically made clothing. I never really had the option to buy high quality prices since I was working my way through college, and after that, I was getting married and saving for our family. Every dollar was hard earned, but I never thought much about where that money was going when spending it on clothing…..

In Honor of Design- Ethically Made Clothing Companies
In Honor of Design

(featuring the black pantsuit from Seamly Co, Coat: Vintage(similar one), Clutch: Aldo, Shoes: (similar), Necklace: Kendra Scott)

I always have been aware of the state of consumerism in the world, but admit that understood little about how our economy and business affected the lives of many in other countries. I started to read more about ethically made clothing and watch more documentaries. I had a growing desire to live with less, and with a better awareness of what I was supporting with my dollar. I feel a growing sense of responsibility to know the weight of each of my purchases. Believe me when I say, I was the Forever21 and H&M frequenter always on the hunt for the best bargain. In fact I just bought a really great hat that was questionably inexpensive, and am still having guilt. It’s hard to ignore the great deals, I know! It takes extra effort to actually find out where and how things are made. However, I want to really make the effort to at least be more aware of WHO is behind the inexpensive clothing. Who are the people, and what is there story?

My friend Sheila introduced me to this really mind bending series called Sweatshop. It is worth a watch and a share as it really paints the painfully true picture of how many clothing companies sell to the masses. It will leave you with lots to think about…

I thought it would be helpful to share a resource list of ethically made clothing companies. (Thank you Hanna for taking the time to email me some of these recs!)

Seamly Co
Orange Harp (an app for finding designers in this category)
MM LaFleur
Steven Elan
Alternative Apparel

See an updated ethically made jewelry list, and handbags and shoes coming soon!

Did I miss any? Let me know!
I think the problem across the globe is a large one, but I am convinced that there is a growing number of people who are willing to fight for the quality of the lives behind our clothing. I loved this quote shared by Johanna:
“Every time you spend money, you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want to live in.” – Anna Lappe

Thanks for always being such kind hearted readers by the way. It makes this such a good place to come and share.
x, Anna

P.S. If you are building a wardrobe from scratch, minimizing your closet, or supporting ethically made clothing, you can tag #consciousclosets on instagram to connect with others doing the same!

Leave a Comment

  • What a timely post for me, thank you! A friend of mine and I were talking about this just yesterday. Do you have resources for children’s clothes? I’m in the process of creating a conscious closet for my 3 children (plus one on the way!)…just not sure where to start. It’s a bit overwhelming. Congrats to you, btw, for baby #4. 🙂

  • Thank-you for sharing! I feel like you are so genuine! I didn’t know this type of thing existed either until I took a geography class in college where I learned about blood diamonds, sex trafficking, etc. Up until last Summer I had a very small fashion blog, that I only ran for about a year, but I became convicted that not only was my blog driving consumerism in myself but my reading of multiple fashion blogs was doing the same, often with me buying stuff I never wore and wasting money. In the last few months I have had a strong desire to live with less. Right now I have my self on a shopping hiatus and it has really helped me to realize how often I impulse purchase and how I don’t really need most of what I want. I think sharing this information on ethical companies will be helpful when investing in things in the future!

    • Jessica, I just want to reach through the screen and hug you! Thank you for your comment. I mirror so much of those sentiments. Probably why I have become more restrained with the fashion aspect of my blog. I want there to be purpose behind it. I have a lot to learn on this topic and hopefully can continue the journey in bringing awareness to it!

    • Jessica, thank you so much for sharing this! Your words are not only insightful, but spot on! I, too, have found that following many fashion blogs created a sort of “keeping up with the Joneses” compulsion within myself which I’d never really experienced (nor previously had money in which to indulge). Disappointed by my seeking consolation in things as my husband’s pay increased, I gave up shopping for myself for this Lent. I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s more difficult than giving up coffee. The temptation to create my desired closet remains (and with info. from Anna’s post, a more conscious one at that), but the knowledge that living with less leads to a more grateful and genuinely content lifestyle is motivation enough to shop more consciously and less often. Refinement it hard! 🙂

      Thank you, Anna, for sharing with us your experience as a consumer, in particular, that quote from Anna Lappe is profound; I’ll be carrying that one as I shop in the future. I truly appreciate your gentle challenge to shop so as to promote ethically-made items rather than settle for the cheap options. It’s true — if a deal looks too good to be true, it is; there’s a greater cost somewhere.

      • Marchelle, every once in a while I go on a spending freeze, to keep my priorities in order, but oh is it challenging. I have limited the amount of fashion sites and blogs I read even, because it is much easier to impulse buy than save! I am amazed by your dedication and admire you so much! Happy to get this conversation going. xx

    • It’s great to see people getting excited about this new philosophy of being happy with less. At the beginning, the slow fashion movement encountered resistance, but very slowly (ironically?) more and more people are realizing consumerism is not the key to happiness. I am constantly exploring the different sides of ethical fashion and how to live a sustainable lifestyle on my blog.

      Loved your outfit!! 🙂

  • Living in a consumer-based society I feel like we lose touch with the world around us…I’ve been trying to buy less and clean out my closet little by little, so thank you for this. I hope others can realize that how expensive or how trendy their clothes are does not define who they are…and that they can learn that buying with purpose from somewhere that is ethical is better than keeping up with the rest of the “fashion industry”. I think ethical shopping will be become incredibly important! Only thing is, it would be better if they were a little more affordable too.

    • I agree with you so much. It makes my stomach sick sometimes thinking about the amount of money we spend in our culture on “retail therapy” and how it really could feed and educate children in third world communities for a year! I understand the price point behind ethically made clothing, but it is nice when the prices are closer to Everlane’s!

  • I have been buying my kids’ shoes from Soft Star Shoes for years. They still make shoes in the US…unheard of! Soft and cute and I can feel good about buying them. I don’t love all of their adult styles, but I wear their slippers at home and just got a pair of their ballet flats to wear this spring.

  • Thank you, thank you, for such a thoughtful post. It has been a journey for me to live with less and shop more responsibly (preferably made in the U.S.A., when at all possible). It isn’t always easy, but so worth it. I would also like to emphasize the need to extend our conscience toward the products we consume/purchase and the impact on the animal and plant species we SHARE this planet with.

    • It’s very easy to choose ignorance at times because it doesn’t bother our conscience. Sometimes I just want to buy off those super cheap asian websites! ha!

  • Excellent post, I think we forget the awful pact we make when we are looking for cheaper goods, someone is always paying. I live in Ireland and there used be a lot more smaller clothing manufacturers and design houses (and other manufacturers) but the advent of fast fashion has changed this and a lot more is outsourced overseas. The Bangladesh factory disaster some years ago really brought it home to me – these were women just trying to keep a job to feed their families…..

  • Great post. It’s so easy for us to look at the things we buy only in their relationship to us as the buyer and not the everything else—what kind of businesses we are letting be successful, what quality of life we are approving of in other countries. That is a perfect quote by Anna Lappe. I started my style blog because I really believe in secondhand as an alternative to supporting this buy-and-discard fast fashion. I’ve been focusing lately on buying less as another way to fight this. Really loving your conscious closet series—keep it up! xx


  • That Sweatshop documentary is a great introduction to labor issues. I have a loooong list of ethical companies on my blog, which you can see here:

    That jumpsuit is lovely. I just bought Seamly Co’s wrap cardigan and it’s awesome.

  • Such a great, and refreshing post to read. Thank you for sharing! Every year for Christmas, Birthdays, etc. I try to purchase items from ethical companies that are trying to make a difference in the world. It’s nice to spread the word about those companies to friends and family, while benefiting their company, and buying for someone else! One of my favorite companies is Ironically, they were just featured on Shark Tank. The company is founded by an amazing husband & wife duo with a great mission.


    • Thank you Lindsey for such a good reminder! I am going to start doing this for gifts too. Also, love sseko too! Will be adding them to the handbag post!

  • Eileen Fisher has been active on the social/environmental front for years and plans to be 100 percent sustainable in the next five years. Even though not all of their clothing is made in the US, I like knowing that what is manufactured overseas is done with the care of people and the environment in mind.

  • Maggie Broderick

    Where did you watch the documentary? I definitely would like to watch it.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this! I was just reading up on “fast fashion” and how it’s creating a cheap clothing, throw away culture that’s overflowing landfills. Also the horrible treatment of the workers. I’m in love with the company “Everlane” that you shared and will check out the others!

    – Lindsey M.

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  • Hi Anna,
    I’m the Founder/CEO of Orange Harp. We are honored to be included in your blog post
    Thank you for this thoughtful and honest post to spread awareness around ethical fashion. No matter how many times I watch the sweatshop documentary, I end up crying. We set out to change this situation and give our users the power to choose the products they love that are made right. We exist for discerning people like you. Would love to stay connected!
    Once again, thank you for your research and great post!

    • Anbu, thank you for the thoughtful note! I am just thankful someone recommended I watch this documentary. Incredibly eye opening. I wish there was more awareness so this was just my small part in spreading the word.
      Keep in touch!

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