Think of your most recent clothing purchase: do you know where it was manufactured, whether the people who made it were treated fairly, whether any animals were harmed or the environmental impact of its production?
Though most people couldn’t answer these questions, there’s an increasing proportion of consumers that are becoming conscious of what they’re buying.
Ethical spending now accounts for £81.3 billion of the UK retail market, according to Ethical Consumer, and KPMG’s latest annual retail survey noted that almost 20% of shoppers were drawn to retailers that they know ethically source their goods.
Although high street brands such as H&M and Zara have launched conscious lines, shoppers who are clued up on sustainability are growing frustrated with fast fashion brands who only dip into the ethical retail world.
Instead, these are three retailers who provide conscious consumers with a huge selection of clothes, accessories and more, all of which is produced ethically and sustainably.
Gather & See
Every ethical shopper is different: one might care more about the workers behind the products; another might be concerned about buying only environmentally-friendly items.
Gather & See understands that, and the store allows its customers to shop by their priority.
Not only can people filter its products by type or designer, but they can also select them by choosing one of the retailer’s five founding philosophies: fair trade, organic, eco-friendly, small scale production and heritage.
The shop stocks clothing, accessories and jewelry that fits every budget, from affordable fashion to luxury, targeting the fashion-savvy, ethically-minded customer.
Gather & See is a relatively new retailer, founded four years ago by two fashionable women who were fed up of feeling disconnected from the production process.
Now, they ensure each of the more than 40 designers featured on their site produces clothing that fits into at least two of Gather & See’s philosophies. For them, it’s just as much about the ethics as the aesthetics.
Founded 27 years ago, People Tree is one of the most well-established ethical retailers around. The shop’s mission is simple: to be 100% fair trade throughout their supply chain.
But what does “fair trade” mean? It’s a way of doing business that guarantees workers aren’t discriminated against. They are provided with good working conditions, their rights are protected, and they are paid sustainable prices for their products.
That means People Tree’s wide range of women’s fashion, that offers everything from cozy knitted jumpers to party dresses, is created by workers in the developing world who are treated well and not exploited.
Not only does People Tree strive for its stock to be ethically-sourced, but it’s also aware of the environmental impact of fashion.
You can trust that its clothing is all made with organic cotton and other sustainable materials, and colored using safe dyes. Even better, as many of its products as possible are shipped by sea, in order to reduce the retailers’ contribution to global warming.
Rêve en Vert
Shop at Rêve en Vert and you’ll be buying from designers that fit the retailer’s four ethical principles: organic, local, fair and re-made.
The focus for the online clothing, home and beauty store is “sustainable luxury.” That translates to items from designers who care both about the planet and the people behind the products.
Some people may see “sustainable” and assume the clothing won’t be high-end or fashionable, but Rêve en Vert’s founders place emphasis on the aesthetic and longevity of the labels they carry.
Each product on the site has a drop-down box with an explanation of its sustainability, so you can know as much as possible about its origins before you buy.
Rêve en Vert is also doing its part to tackle the environmental impact of delivering its products internationally. A donation is made to Trees for the Future, a charity taking on deforestation in developing countries, from all shipping costs.