The $2.4 trillion clothing industry is rife with human rights violations. These include low wages, harassment, unsafe work conditions, and more. Women and children make up the majority of workers in this industry, so they’re the most vulnerable to exploitation. Weak labor laws and/or a lack of law enforcement within country borders are a primary reason for the rights violations, while brands often overlook issues in the interest of profit. What can consumers do? You can shop brands that are committed to reducing their harmful impact on people and the planet at every stage of production. Here are 10 ethical clothing brands:
Krochet Kids intl.
Headwear and accessories
Since the company was founded, Krochet Kids intl. has employed hundreds of women in Peru and Uganda. Each product includes the maker’s signature on it, so consumers can learn about the woman who made their headwear. In addition to crocheting lessons and supplies, Krochet Kids intl. provides its makers with an education in business, finance, and management, so they have the opportunity and skills to become independent.
This ethical brand features lifestyle goods such as jewelry, decor, pillows, blankets, and more. All merchandise sold by Accompany must meet certain standards in at least one of three areas: handmade and artisanal; fair trade practices; and philanthropic. They work in 40 countries with a network of traditional and indigenous artisans, fair-trade cooperatives, and philanthropic NGOs. Accompany is a Certified B corporation.
Boston-based Ash & Rose strives to support designers and brands making a positive impact on workers and the planet. They only carry products that reject sweatshops and child labor. All brands must also meet at least two of the company’s criteria, which includes charitable (brands that donate a profit percentage), cruelty-free, fair trade, and woman-made. The individual product pages list all the met criteria.
This clothing company was born from a trip to India, where founder Marissa Heyl researched how fair trade empowers women. Through fashion, Symbology provides long-term employment and fair wages to women around the world. Makers are also involved in the design process using traditional fabric techniques. The company also uses plant-based fabrics and AZO-free dyes.
Known Supply (the sister brand of Krochet Kids intl.) works with underserved populations and celebrates makers. That means when you look at a product, you can see who made it. This makes it easy for consumers to see the impact of their purchases and feel more connected to whoever created their clothing. Known Supply is Fair Trade certified and a Certified B corporation.
Soul Flower carries eco-conscious clothing made from organic cotton, recycled fibers, low-impact dyes, and more. Many of their imported products are also Fair Trade Certified. If the products aren’t officially certified, Soul Flower only works with brands with similar philosophies on product production. Every year, Soul Flower also donates to environmental causes. They are a Green America certified business, which means they’ve met standards such as being “socially equitable and committed to extraordinary practices that benefit workers, customers, communities, and the environment.”
The founders were motivated to start an ethical clothing business following the 2013 collapse of a Dhaka garment factory, which killed over a thousand people. Tamga Designs uses eco-friendly materials and all the garments are carbon neutral. Every partner has social and environmental certifications, while Tamga Designs also sets a Supplier Code of Conduct built on the International Labour Organization’s standards.
This ethical brand sells GMO-free and GOTS-certified clothing like jackets, dresses, tops, and more. They use biodegradable organic fibers and organic cotton farming methods. Their dyes are also low-impact. All partners in the textile processing supply chain are required to meet environmental and labor standards, like no child labor. Founder Marci Zaroff has a long career in sustainable fashion and played a key role in defining the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
Founded in 2015, this Canada-based clothing brand makes clothes with Egyptian cotton. They’re a B Corp, so they rely on safe and fair labor standards. Kotn works directly with farmers in Portugal and Egypt for their cotton, paying guaranteed prices and helping with the transition to organic farming. The brand also works with a local NGO to provide quality education to children in their farming communities. Consumers participate in this project with their purchases.
This luxury brand offers unique handmade clothing (dresses, sweaters, etc) made from natural yarns like Pima cotton and alpaca. Dyes are non-toxic. To create their collection, Thierra Nuestra works with communities in Peru and supports textile artisan groups. The brand does not use child labor and pays workers a fair wage. They offer a summer and winter collection.