When we first find out about how bad fast fashion is for the environment and for people, we tend to see every brand as terrible. Now if I’m being honest, they are mostly terrible, but it can in some cases be really difficult to avoid them. For example, some items you can’t get second hand (for example, underwear) and ethical brands are more often than not very pricey. So sometimes you really have no choice but to buy from a fast fashion store.
Some brands do try harder than others to be ethical. Even though pretty much none of them are doing enough, I feel as though if we are going to buy something from a fast fashion brand, then we should pick the best ones we possibly can.
The truth is there is a range of factors that influence how ethical a brand is, it is not often as simple as either being ethical or not.
Are they a member of the Better Cotton Initiative?
How much of it’s supply chain does it trace?
Have they made a commitment to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions?
This is just a few of the many questions you could ask. It can be really complex trying to piece together evidence to figure out which is best. Thankfully we have handy apps such as ‘Good on You’ where you can simply search any brand and you can get an idea of how ethical they are.
They rate the brands from we avoid, not good enough, it’s a start, good and to great. They also have a range of more specific information on that brands, labour, environmental and animal practices. So, if you are in need of an item, it makes sense to research brands and see where they rank.I have really only come across three accessible brands that have ‘good’ ratings and none that have ‘great’. All brands that rank ‘great’ are online, small, often pricey ethical businesses. The three brands are Adidas, which I have already written a post about which you can view here, Marks & Spencer and Patagonia. Adidas and M&S are the brands I go to if I really need something that I cannot get in a more ethical way (Patagonia is £££!).
I would say there is a four-tier system when it comes to ethical clothing brands.
- Fully Ethical small brands for example People Tree and Asquith.
- Good-ish accessible brands such as Adidas, Marks & Spencer, and Patagonia
- Not great high street brands such as H&M, Zara, Primark, Topshop.
- Absolutely terrible and should be avoided at all costs online brands such as Pretty Little Thing, Missguided and Boohoo.
This is just a generalisation of course, but for the most part this is the way it goes. There is a sliding scale from ethical to unethical. I think we often have a tendency to put all brands other than the tier-one’s into the category of being terrible but buying a t-shirt from Adidas is a lot different to buying a t-shirt from Pretty Little Thing.
So all in all, my advice is always to reduce the amount you shop, and shop second hand or ethically as much as possible. But if you find yourself needing to get something from a fast fashion brand, then keep in mind that some are better than others, also download the ‘Good on You’ app!