When it comes to shopping, it is easy to forget about where your new gears are actually from. For most of us, the thought probably never crosses your mind of how your newly minted leather boots or cable knit sweater came into existence.
With exposes like True Cost revealing the harsh realities about some (not all) fashion labels, it's becoming increasingly difficult to simply ignore your social responsibility when it comes to shopping.
But how to find out exactly how ethical your favourite label is? Challenging to say the least, which is why we're grateful Tearfund launched their NZ Ethical Fashion Guide, which gives Kiwi shoppers an idea of which businesses are ethical and which ones could use some improvement. After all, we want to make sure our clothes are a labour of love, not a labour of any other kind.
We've collated a list of the top 10 most ethical labels you should shop at to ensure you are doing your part in promoting workers right and supporting the companies that do.
Kowtow uses 100% fair trade certified and organic cotton in their factory in India. Their employees receive free transport, house rent, adequate living wages, children receive free education and all work in an ethical and healthy environment.
Zara is one of the fastest growing fashion chains the world over, with a flagship recently opening on our shores. So the fact they are ethical in their manufacturing means we can shop their guilt free - YAY! Zara has pledged to boycott a cotton which uses child and adult forced labour, and opts for raw materials that promote protecting and reducing environmental impact.
David Jones is another exciting new arrival on home soil, replacing Wellington's Kirkcaldie & Stains. David Jones has a committed to a five-year plan to ensure they are using the most ethical approaches. One of their biggest missions is to increase their quantity and quality of available public information. They also ask all of their suppliers to complete a online self assessment questionnaire to manage all ethical sourcing.
One of our favourite original Kiwi labels, we are proud to say Karen Walker loves to ensure her garments and accessories give value back to the environment. Karen says her social responsibility is "to commit to the sustainability of creating unique products that hold their intrinsic value in the process ensuring we give back value to the environment, culture and communities in every place our brand has a presence."
This one is for the guys and gals - one of the most well known names of fashion does in fact use ethical practices! Their mission is to be one of the leading sustainable designer lifestyle brands through how they create their products.
Topshop are committed to using both ethical resources and practices. They have even had a range called Topshop Reclaim that was entirely made from surplus material and production cut-offs. They also are committed to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) and its 2020 targets.
Sass & Bide
Sass & Bide is one of Australia's most famous labels, and we Kiwis love it over here, too. In 2012, the iconic founders Sarah-Jane Clark and Heidi Middleton partnered with the Ethical Fashion initiative to produce beaded products in Kenya. The benefits of this initiative are increased food, housing conditions and the ability to send children to school.
Tigerlily is our go-to store when needing a new bikini or summery outfit. Tigerlily is proud to have been working with the same fabric mills for 10 years and source fabrics from Italy and France. They also guarantee their design turn into as little wastage as possible.
One of our favourite Aussie brands, every single Zimmermann piece wows! Zimmermann uses ethical practices when producing garments and founders and sisters Nicky and Simone Zimmermann love to be very involved with every stage of the production process.
When looking for that everyday pair of jeans, Nudie Jeans is always the answer! Nudie offers a production guide and gives names, addresses and descriptions of all suppliers. The brand is also part of a project to pay its share of living wages at Armstrong knitting mill in India.
Happy ethical shopping!