I posted about an article a little while ago : Why Does So Much Ethical Fashion Look the Same? and wanted to follow-up with some of my favorite “ethical” fashion brands that DON’T look “the same.” By “the same”, I think the article meant neutral in color, oversized/generic in silhouette, but also subtly referred to the types of women who are primarily seen wearing said brands (“influencers” if you will): thin, caucasian, 30’s, moms.
If I may touch here on something I brought up when I mentioned the article in the first place, something which is obvious to me, but not in the article, or may not be obvious to everyone: there is so much more to ethical fashion/responsible style than what we see on instagram. There are more women out there wearing brands like Elizabeth Suzann, for example, who don’t look “the same” – we just don’t see them as often because they don’t have tens of thousands of followers on instagram. And there are other “ethical” fashion brands besides Tradlands, ES, Everlane, etc. etc.
It’s almost as if it doesn’t exist if it’s not on instagram.
Moving on though – I’m not entirely sure that’s of consequence, just something I felt like could have been brought up in the article. There is more to life/style/responsible consumerism than what we see on instagram.
But anyway, what is “ethical” fashion? I prefer “responsible” to ethical, and even sustainable, because it’s more broad, and I honestly feel like they’re both buzzwords and used to convey something that may not actually be there. To me, being a responsible consumer means I am educated about fabrics, manufacturing processes, supply chains, etc., and I therefore make informed, conscious choices about the clothing I buy. I also am aware of the emotional reasons I may be drawn to shopping, or buying a particular item.
“Responsible” fashion then, takes these things into account and can include items that are manufactured in a location or factory that adheres to higher standards for workers, are made from natural or organic materials, use innovative zero-waste technologies, employ artisans and pay them fairly, are independently-owned and transparent, size inclusive and so on. Being a responsible consumer also means shopping secondhand, repairing well-loved items, using what we have, avoiding polyester/plastics in clothes unless it’s recycled, and choosing to support independent designers, businesses and artisans whenever possible.
On to some designers/brands I love that are using more colors and pattern:
Ace & Jig – Ah…Ace & Jig. I never ever considered Ace & Jig for myself until recently, and now I have a deep appreciation for the textiles and designs. I’ll admit, I don’t get their styling (no pants? no bras??) very often, and I cannot bring myself to mix textiles/patterns yet, but I have really enjoyed learning about the textiles and supporting the company in the ways I have so far. On the top of the list for my next purchase? This Vivian dress:
Beklina is a wonderful small boutique, and also a house line by owner Lina Rennell, that features high curated items from independent designers and LOTS of color/patterns. FYI, she just launched new clogs with chunky, architectural heels that I am SUPER-intrigued about. And I love her basic sweaters (I have a couple). This new wrap style sweater is made from alpaca which is better for the environment than cashmere and better for the animals than wool, is beautiful, and would be so lovely over a dress, with wide leg pants, or jeans…
Alpaca wrap sweater | $180
Zuri Kenya – I think I first heard about this brand from a comment here, but now I’m all in. Zuri sources from traditional textile manufacturers in East Africa and garments are sewn at Soko in Kenya where they have an environmentally friendly factory and are bringing employment and empowerment to one of the highest risk areas of the country. I have my eye on this 24 Carrot Gold dress (I love the combination of colors! And…carrots!!):
A few other mentions:
Garmentory is THE BEST PLACE to browse through independent designers and boutiques and is a wonderful place to start a more responsible fashion journey.
Jamie + the Jones definitely does NOT shy away from color producing their popular raw silk tops in a rainbow of bright colors. This scrap dress is exactly that, made from scraps from other production:
Rachel Comey is one of my favorite designers now; she just knows how to dress women in an interesting, but very practical way. All of her pieces are very special IMO. I’m obsessed with this solicitous dress/caftan:
Mara Hoffman. Sigh.
Okay. You guys always have the best suggestions…what are your go-to brands for non-neutral or patterned responsible fashion??