This week Eco Fashion Week Edition 09 takes place in Vancouver. And so I’ve been exploring Eco Fashion online resources all week.

So far, I’ve focused on resources that keep clothing and textiles from becoming part of a landfill. Vintage, resale, repurposing and upcycling are all excellent ways to be conscious with one’s fashion choices. But what about new duds? Where do our clothes come from, how are they made, and are they ecologically and socially positive?

Fashion’s Many Issues

Look, I love fashion. I have for years and years, and I wouldn’t have started a blog called Sense of Aesthetic if I didn’t love pretty things.
But I have struggled with this, one of my foremost interests, because of the many social, economic and environmental challenges that the fashion industry creates. You probably know some of them already. They include:

  • negative body image and unrealistic expectations of appearance fuelled by ‘aspirational images’
  • wanton labelling of people, garments, and ‘looks’, stifling creativity and limiting ways of being
  • environmental impacts from choice of dyes, placing value on unsustainable materials, and shipping across the world
  • ‘fashion’, clothing and textile corporations who are focused on unending growth, leading to unfairly paid workers, increasing the amount of pieces produced, and using unsustainable, often toxic materials.

Look, I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty. Sure, we as consumers can vote with our dollars. That’s why I am seeking out and pointing out these resources. But I think when it comes to these large social ills, consumers are only a piece of the puzzle.

What we should be doing is pressuring corporations to change. Large clothing companies can produce millions of pieces of clothing a year. And these are pieces of clothing that are sold to you for up to $100 each, when they were produced for pennies. These are articles of clothing that are made to be obsolete, so that you will either be shamed into not wearing them in a couple months, or made to feel like you need the next best thing.

Playing on our emotions as consumers is nothing new, marketers have been doing it as long as the career has been in existence. But hey, if none of that gets to you, guess what? Rest assured that in this age of fast fashion your clothing, be it high end or low end, will most likely fall apart before you get over it anyway:

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This is sucking the soul out of the creative endeavour that fashion can be. This is taking my sense of what’s beautiful and worthwhile and turning it into something ugly — something that harms us all. And it pisses me off.

Conscious Collection

To kick off Eco Fashion Week Edition 09, H&M’s Conscious Collection was featured. The collection for 2015 has just launched, with much hoopla and marketing fanfare including celebrity endorsements. And yes, a large fast fashion corporations seeking positive change in their business model is a step in the right direction. But not everyone is convinced that the collection, which is launched once a year and has already disappeared from the H&M website, is more than just another example of a corporation attempting to buy consumer goodwill through green washing.

Eco-Friendly Fashion Resources

So in this world of fast fashion, in which every fashion blogger is pushing the latest and every fashion vlogger has a massive weekly haul, how does one go about finding new, fashionable threads that are actually not tearing the planet apart?

It’s important to remember that just because a specific clothing line or textile manufacturer is ‘eco’, ‘green’, or ‘organic’, does not mean that they’re necessarily doing any social good. They might still be manipulating advertising images to take advantage of the consumer. They may still be taking advantage of unfair labour laws. We’ll explore those issues on this blog at a later date, rest assured. But for now, peruse these resources to find out more about eco-friendly brands, companies and clothing lines:

A great place to start is eco friendly fashion, a business directory and blog that is dedicated to all things eco. This is an excellent resource for educating yourself about the impacts of the fashion industry, and to explore some alternative choices from the mainstream.

Another awesome list of brands that are authentically doing their part to produce environmentally conscious collections comes from Fashionista.com. I love the blurb at the beginning, which lays out all the issues for us readers.

Buzzfeed has a list as well, though this one doesn’t come with as comprehensive an explanation. But it still highlights 13 Fashion brands that you might want to check out.

If you’re looking for high end designer labels, look no further than Elle’s list of eco-friendly brands.

Modcloth has an Eco-Friendly section on their website just like the Vintage section I highlighted yesterday. From positive body images to second hand to eco, so far Modcloth has my vote for winning the fashion ethics olympics (a thing that I just made up now). Transparent, fair trade and fair pay and it’ll hit all the targets!

And of course, just like for second-hand fashions, there’s always Etsy. You could spend hours exploring all of the small, local, eco fashion producers that the site has to offer. And because most of the shops are run by individuals, you can have conversations with the manufacturers and designers about their production ethics…something that’s not so easy to do with large corporations.

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