As we begin to inform ourselves more about where our products come from, we learn some difficult truths about manufacturers. Although we might not like to think about it, we are becoming aware that our clothes are made by poor workers, often in horrendous conditions, and that some animals suffer for the sake of fashion. It’s an uncomfortable truth that we can’t keep ignoring. But what can we do to force manufacturers to make ethical changes? You give your money to companies that already do. Cruelty-free fashion is not unattainable; it’s cheaper and more easily found than you think.
The reason fashion causes a lot of harm is because the trends change every few months. While this does mean that we can find designer labels in discount bins if we wait long enough, it also means that a lot of these items are headed for the bin if they’re not sold. Sunglasses, for example, change style from year to year, but the materials aren’t biodegradable, which means they’re going to lie on those rubbish piles for years to come. Fortunately, some conscientious designers have created bamboo sunglasses, which means that they will be made from a sustainable material that requires far fewer resources to grow than wood or synthetic materials like plastic. If you compare sunglasses reviews, you’ll see that bamboo sunglasses are just as stylish, but they’re the more responsible choice. Bamboo grows faster than other sources, and requires very minimal maintenance, so it is the cheapest and most responsible option by far.
You don’t have to be a full on vegan to care about the animals that make your clothes. Real leather and suede are made from the skin and hides of animals. Fur is taken from animals raised or trapped specifically for their coats. Even silk is problematic; it’s made from a fiber that is naturally secreted by silkworms, but sometimes the worms are boiled alive to extract extra amounts of silk to meet demand. Fortunately, you don’t have to take drastic measures to avoid these kinds of clothes; just read the label. The next time you’re shopping for a new sweater, there will be information on the label telling you whether it’s made from 100 percent polyester, or if it contains 35 percent wool. You’ll know that you’re not complicit in a sheep’s suffering if the label reads “synthetic” instead of just “wool.” There is even a growing market for vegetarian and vegan shoes, so choosing between durable shoes and being cruelty free might soon be a thing of the past.
On the high street
While you can go to ethical stores to try and find clothes that are both cruelty-free and fabulous, you really don’t have to look beyond the high street. Stores like Mango, Zara, H&M, and Topshop are great examples of retailers that offer cruelty-free clothes, and we all know that they’re extremely stylish. The more you shop with responsible retailers, the more you force other stores to change their policies.