Ethical clothing has become mainstream because of the issues surrounding animal and worker rights. Throughout the last couple years, people have become more aware of the clothes they wear and the effects they are having on the world.
Since ethics are on the rise, popular brands have begun to lean towards cruelty free products. Brands, like H&M, have released cruelty free lines and do not use fur or leather. Popular brands such as Versace, Michael Kors, Gucci, Armani and many others have now ditched the use of fur as well. While these brands are making action towards being cruelty free, they are mostly just following the popular “faux fur” trend.
It is easy to question why people are beginning to care so much about these problems. Animals are constantly suffering for our uses. As videos and information of the injustices done on animals for clothes are being brought to light, people are realizing the inhumane aspects of it. While a real fur or leather coat is stylish, the idea that an animal suffered for “style,” is not. Regardless of the animal rights, there are other reasons people are pursuing ethical fashion.
One of the issues people worry about, is the chemicals in their clothing. What we put on our bodies is as important as what we put in them; the skin is the largest organ, after all. Unsurprisingly, there is a myriad of harmful chemicals used in the dying process of clothes production. When choosing ethical fashion, these chemicals are mostly avoided.
Child labor, low wages and health risks in the manufacturing process are the most popular reason for using ethical fashion. Many high end fashion brands exploit the families in underdeveloped countries, placing them in unspeakable working conditions. Children are often allowed to work in these conditions, experiencing cruelty and inhumane treatment. Since these companies often manufacture in third world countries, they do not follow rules about safety or a minimum wage. People are often paid so far below minimum wage that they can’t cover their basic needs. Most of the workers in these conditions experience consistent vomiting, lack of coordination, loss of consciousness, respiratory diseases, impaired memory, seizures, depression and sometimes even death. The long term exposure to harmful chemicals causes these workers to suffer from detrimental health problems.
An issue with “cruelty free” brands is that they often still exploit human labor. A brand cannot truly be considered cruelty free if the exploitation of human beings is being utilized in the manufacturing process. The popular #whomademyclothes campaign, spoke out against cruelty in the workforce. A way to know whether or not a “cruelty free” brand is exploiting workers, is to check if they are public about their manufacturing process. Popular vegan and “cruelty free” brand, Matt and Nat, recently has hidden their manufacturing process, making buyers question if the brand truly is cruelty free.
While there are some questionable “cruelty free” brands, there are many that truly encompass the label of cruelty free. One example of this is vegan accessories brand, Beyond Skin. Beyond Skin uses 100 percent recycled materials to create luxury wallets and shoes. The brand openly speaks out against human labor exploitation and joined in on the #whomademyclothes campaign. Luxury women clothes brands, Vaute and Delikate Rayne, also are truly cruelty free.
Shopping can be stressful, especially when presented with the fear that you are contributing to the harm of people or animals. As ethics becomes popular, more and more brands are open to the idea of going cruelty free. For now, there are many adorable cruelty free options available.