If you know much about me, you most likely know that one of the causes I am committed to is fighting human trafficking. Human trafficking generally involves sexual exploitation and/or forced labor; in today’s post I will be talking specifically about forced labor AKA slavery.
The fashion industry is one of the most infamous “employers” of forced labor. Whether it be sourcing materials outdoors for little-to-no pay or long hours in extremely unsafe factories for the same sort of ‘paycheck’, I don’t want to sugarcoat it – slavery very much exists in our fast fashion world. BIG time. It’s devastating.
Since a quick Google search of “fast fashion and human trafficking” would give you plenty of resources, I am not going to go there in this post for the sake of keeping things shorter and more digestible. All I will say is that when I chose to face the real facts of what my bargain purchases were actually doing, I knew I wanted to make a change so I decided to do a “12 Garment Year.”
For one year, I purchased just one “garment” per month that had to be ethically made. My purpose for doing this campaign was two-fold. The first reason was that for me and my personality, this method felt like a digestible way to actually start purchasing ethically. I didn’t have to swap out my entire closet at one time — instead I could do it one garment at a time. The second reason was to raise awareness about the realities of slavery and the fashion industry on my social media platform.
The year was hard in some ways, yes. But truthfully, it was mostly empowering. Each month seemed to come around quicker than the next and I realized I don’t actually “need” everything I think I “need.” I was given the opportunity to make thoughtful purchases that yes, were generally more expensive, but were few over the course of the year. My purchases felt intentional and I asked myself questions like “Will I still like this in 5+ years?” or “Can this be mixed and matched with other items in my closet?” Each purchase felt purposeful and each time I received my garment, I felt truly good about what I had bought.
I always hesitate to share this because it feels gross and embarrassing but I think it’s important because it’s a very real part of my story and I hope it shows that you can make a big, transformative change in your life. My senior year in high school, I never wore the same outfit twice … intentionally. I have always been very interested in fashion, trends, getting dressed up, etc. but I finally had to be honest with myself: at what cost?
Everyone’s journey will look different, and everyone’s experience on their journey will be different, but I really do want to challenge you to consider buying more ethically. You can and will make a difference with each step, big or small. And you can still dress well! 😉
To finish this post, I’m going to re-share my purchases from my #12GarmentYear (you can find more searching this hashtag on Instagram!) as well as post a few other brands that I have come to know and love.
Brands and Resources
12 Garment Year Purchases (photos in order below)
- Vetta Capsule Cape Jumpsuit
- Ruby to Blue Earrings
- Fortress of Inca Adra Flats
- Known Supply T-Shirt
- Double Standard Leather Convertible Purse
- ABLE Jean Jacket
- Ten Points Leather Boots
- Orangyporangy Skirt
- Vetta Capsule Oversized Sweater
- ABLE High Rise Denim
- Patagonia Insulated Prairie Dawn Parka
- Everlane V-Neck Sweater
Additional ethical brands I have purchased from and loved (not pictured)
- Nisolo (shoes and accessories)
- Noonday Collection (jewelry)
- Girlfriend Collective (athletic and athleisure)
- Pact (clothing)
- Cotopaxi (outerwear and gear)
- GLDN (jewelry)
- Soko (jewelry)
- Shop secondhand or from local makers!
Good on You — an app for your phone that allows you to search almost any fashion brand and see their ethical practices in terms of labor, animal, and environmental impact. I use it ALL the time!
How to stay organized? Once I find a brand that I love, I simply bookmark and add it to my “Ethical Clothing/Companies” folder for easy access when I need to buy again!
12 Garment Year Purchases
“F*ck Fast Fashion
For making us feel left out, unless we buy in.
For making the price so low, when the true cost is so high.
For giving material satisfaction, at the expense of human compassion.
For exploiting impulse, when what we need is insight.
For luring us into wanting more, when we’d be better off with less.
For degrading garments to disposables, when they are so valuable.”