A simple switch: the Zara short-sleeved denim shirt at left for $45.90 CAD. The Everlane fair labour version at right, for $48 CAD. Prices similar in USD.

This Friday, The True Cost fashion documentary comes out (that Colin Fifth’s lovely wife, Livia, had a hand in making!) and it promises to be a harrowing look at the human cost of fast fashion. And although the True Cost is an important film for those of us who are unaware, or just recently aware (like me) of the real cost of fashion fast, according to one reviewer, it doesn’t give a comprehensive action as to how to change your shopping habits.

So there’s no better time for me to help find us better, more sustainable (and guess what? Not necessarily more expensive) fashion brands. This week, I’m switching Zara for Everlane in my closet.


Zara is a fashion-girl-on-a-budget dream. It frequently features pieces that are inspired by the latest runway fashions at a fraction of the price. And it can get those styles into the store faster than any designer working with European artisans can. It’s accessible, it’s (relatively) cheap, it’s chic. Wearing Zara clothes is not only the easiest and cheapest way to get featured on a street style blog, but it’s name is like using a secret code: if you wear Zara, you’ll be known as a ‘cool girl’ by thousands of middle class millennials.

At least, in this part of the world.

The only problem is, between look books, campaigns, and assortments that rapid change; it’s hard for a consumer like me to get a clear picture of what Zara does that is harmful. It goes without saying that their clothes are made on cheap, shipped halfway around the world, and use sub-par materials. And it’s evident that like many fast fashion companies, Zara doesn’t own factories, it has a supply chain.

All of this means that despite some lip service to cleaning up its act, Zara is one of the brands that is riddled with ethical problems.

Sense of Aesthetic | Switch Zara for Everlane
The only Zara sale I enjoy is a Zara re-sale!


Everlane is a company that stocks many similar basics to Zara, at comparable prices. But the big difference between the two companies is that Everlane practices what it calls “Radical Transparency“. What this means is that you can actually click on one of a handful of factories that the company works with, and discover what they make, and how Everlane works with them. Not comfortable with one of the factories they work with? Each one is clearly marked according to the items they produce, and so you don’t have to buy those specific items from Everlane if you don’t want to.

The clothes that Everlane produces are beautiful. They have a laid-back, minimalist feel. And how do they have comparable prices to Zara? This has to do with mark-up. Every piece of clothing a company makes cost money to produce. But while fast fashion companies produce a piece for pennies and then charge you up into the hundreds, Everlane works with factories that pay workers fairly. The clothes cost more money to produce, but Everlane takes a much smaller mark-up.

From now on, I vow to only buy Zara at resale. Resale can help divert textile products from landfills, and is much more ecofriendly than purchasing new. But when I do want to add something new to my wardrobe, I’m going to look to Everlane rather than Zara!

What other switches would you like to see me investigate? Looking for kick ass ethical lingerie or fair trade work out gear? Let me know in the comments!


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