So this week I got to check out Good on You, the new app I found that helps you select ethical clothing. It’s easy to use, easy to read, and it’s for iOS and Android. It’s pretty useful, although they need to add more designers to their list. (I’m sure that will come with time.) As it’s Christmas, and I’m going to a party, I thought I’d shop around for something to dazzle people with. I tried to visit as many stores as possible, but I didn’t get to every downtown retail store, so it’s not as if this post is some kind of scientific study or anything. It’s really just a first attempt.
I began my search at one of my favourite stores. I asked if they had anything in natural fibres or sustainably manufactured clothing. The clerk suggested I try another store.
I was crushed. I really liked that store. But that’s the thing about becoming a Greener and Completely Better Person: sometimes you have to close some doors. Not a great start, but things got better. Clerks in a couple of other shops stared at me blankly when I made my request, but some Stratford stores are really aware of the environmental damage and the unfair labour practices of the clothing industry. It really is pretty bad. Did you know that our consumption of clothing is projected to TRIPLE by 2050?? It all winds up in the landfill. And the ocean.
The first cheerful note in my shopping trip was at Resonance, on Downie Street. The clerk was knowledgeable and concerned. She showed me some really nice lines of clothing, things that looked comfortable and stylish, but wouldn’t keep you up at night worrying about burnt Bangladeshi teenagers.
So I started looking at labels, and checked on the ones that claimed to be sustainable and ethical. I did the same at Cora’s in the Market Square, and at their upscale store, Cora Couture. All the people I talked to in these shops were very concerned about the social and environmental problems in the clothing industry, and they were very helpful.
These shops have given me a good start in looking for ethical fashions. I’ve begun a list of environmentally friendly designers available through Stratford retailers, and I plan to keep checking back to update my list. Click here to see the list.
To make a long story short, I didn’t buy anything, even though I found some really nice things. This happens to me a lot these days. I read what’s happening in the world, and it just makes me heartsick. So instead of buying a new dress, I went back to to the store I started out with, Kinna Sohna, where I had seen a beautiful silk scarf. It’s sustainably made, and will last years and years. It kind of dazzles, and people won’t notice that it’s on the same dress I wore last time. And anyway, what’s so bad about wearing the same thing twice?
I’ve pretty well established my shopping mantra. Shop locally, but buy less. Think about quality and longevity. Don’t be surprised if it’s more expensive. Accessorize instead of buying new things. Check the label, do research. Think: natural and organic fibres, working conditions, company transparency.
I still can’t say I feel great about clothes shopping, but I do feel better, and this is a good start on making shopping trips a lot simpler and easier.