So, obviously, I make a lot of my clothing, thus it is ethical. I even went a full year buying absolutely no RTW clothing to see if I could break my addiction to fast fashion. The answer was yes. I felt good knowing I was making a positive impact on the Earth and my fellow humans. Now that that year is over, I do shop RTW again, however I try hard to make sure that I buy as ethically as possible. Recently a coworker was like, “Hey, do you have a go-to resource for a quality made-in-America leather backpack?” And I shocked myself because guys, I totally have a resource for that!
Obviously, you’re not gong to be able to be perfect all the time. Also, our tastes might not be the same, which, #youdoyou. But I figure, in the spirit of everyone just doing the best they can as often as they can, I’d show you some of my favorite options for the stuff I don’t sew myself.
NOTE: Thrifting is always an ethical option. Giving a pre-worn item a second life is kind to the environment and your local economy, so I would recommend hitting up your local charity shops (or hell, even eBay if you’ve got the patience) to find something you’ve had your eye on. But you didn’t need me to tell you that, right?
NOTE: I’m only including brands I have personally tried myself. However, there’s tons of brands out there I’ve always been curious of and never taken the plunge. If anyone has a burning need I haven’t addressed or a category I haven’t hit up (like panties! I got a panties resource, can’t speak to the quality tho…) let me know!
I’m sorry, guys, I just have not caught the jeans making bug. I’ve never struggled to find jeans that fit me and I guess I just don’t see why I would kill myself over denim topstitching when Industry Standard already makes the jeans I like for such a reasonable price. Woman-owned, made in LA, crisp, clean silhouettes and colors, aspirational instagram, no fuckery. That’s what I like in a jean. I have the ones pictured above. I recommend the little jeans fitting quiz on the website to make sure you get the right fit per style.
Let’s be real, no matter how many dish cloths I make, I am not going to be knitting myself a sweater anytime soon. I like Everlane for those. You know about Everlane by now, right? Radical transparency, cutting out the middle man, favorite of the ethical capsule KondoKult. I like them. Their Black Friday “sale” was giving a percentage of that day’s sales to improve the workplace for their employees at their LA factory. I like that.
I have the cashmere crew (I prefer the ultra classic lines of this to the slouchier v-neck, but like, whatever floats your boat, dude) and this merino marled confection. Both are warm as hell and get worn a ton in the winter, which, Chicago, cold, frozen wasteland, etc.
Shoes are a stumper, right? Shoes and bras are the two areas where I my desire to be ethical was always trumped by my desire to my comfortable and feel good. I have big boobs and really high arches, and buying used bras or shoes isn’t actually the best option (worn out elastic, lack of cushioning in insoles, general ick factor) for these items in particular.
I have yet to find an ethical lingerie line that makes anything other than bralets (DEATH TO THE BRALET) (how did I get on a lingerie tangent) (srsly if you know an ethical brand that makes a 30FF CAWL. ME.), but I recently stumbled upon Sabahs for the whole shoe thing. They’re sort of like Toms but not shitty, better looking, made of leather, and they actally are handmade by Turkish artisans, keeping skills and income in communities instead of putting local artisans out of business (ahem please see this video for why Toms are awful as well as ugly). I have the gray nubuck and they are amazing. They look great, conform to the shape of your foot, and don’t get stinky when you wear them without socks because the insides are pure leather, which breathes.
I also just found out that Danskos (I love Danskos and I love that the whole normcore thing is kind of ring them back) (my friend Megan calls them my nurse shoes SHOWS WHAT YOU KNOW, MEGAN) are a B-certified company that is 100% employee owned. That’s pretty cool!
Courtney Rhodes makes beautiful wearable art and she’s local to Chicago and one time I went to a parade here and she was visiting her friend who is ALSO my friend and I was too weirdly star struck to mention to her how much I like her scarves. I’m weird. her scarves are pretty.
Okay, I don’t even need to tell you this one, right? Throw a rock and you will hit your sister’s roommate’s etsy page or a Renegade Fair or what have you. I’m just saying that my favorite is MoonLabJewelry. My boyfriend knows that if he gets me any damn thing from Moon Labs for any gift giving vacation that he is solid.
Baggu! Guys remember when Baggu just made those grocery store sacks? Now Baggu makes cute leathers bags and pouches and the aforementioned backpacks and overnight bags and all kinds of stuff. Everything is made in Brooklyn. You can spend hundreds of dollars on bags (especially leather) made in America but personally I like the no-frills approach of Baggu and I like the cute colors they offer. I have this one as my everyday bag. The laptop sleeve is handy for laptops and also for the like sixty notebooks I compulsively take with my everywhere because I’m worried that without them I will forget to breathe or something.
So there you go! Some of this is kind of like “no duh you lameo” and also yes, I know I could make my own bags, sweaters, jeans and earrings. But I don’t want to, and I am firmly in the camp that crafting should make you happy, and you should be doing it because you want to, not because you feel guilty buying a cashmere sweater instead of buying it.