Katie wrote an excellent post the other day about some stores she won’t shop at, because of their lack of ethical practices. To balance that, how about a list of some stores that have good ethical practices?
I’ve noticed that many stores with good ethical practices are either single local stores (or very small local chains) or online, and so while I can name a few stores in various places I’ve lived that sell ethical goods, they’re all locally owned stores, so this is unlikely to be helpful to many of you. I’ve stuck, then, to online stores for this list.
This isn’t intended as a list of places I or any of us endorse — rather, it’s a list of stores I’ve come across that say that they are ethical in some way (usually environmentally, labour-wise, or, optimally, both). If you’ve bought stuff from any of these places, fill us in about your experience in the comments! Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, so if you have somewhere to add to the list (local or otherwise), leave us a comment.
Ethiquette is a Canadian site that has a database of brands that are both environmentally and socially responsible. It’s based in Montreal, so many of the stores listed are in the Montreal area, but it’s worth a look. It has listings for all sorts of goods, not just clothing.
Alternative Apparel is an alternative to American Apparel. Goods are made in certified factories around the globe, and there’s a wide variety of styles.
Econscious is an American company that sells everything from clothes to fitness equipment. Some of it is fairly traded, all of it ecologically conscious, and portions of sales (up to 10%, apparently) go to charity.
People Tree has some lovely designs, and I see it come up a lot on British and European blogs. Their clothes are all fairly traded, but for those of us not in Britain or Europe, shipping’s expensive.
I love the name of Life’s Not Fair, But My Knickers Are. Another British company, but I can’t remember having ever seen another company selling ethical underwear, so it’s worth a mention.
No Sweat Apparel is no longer taking retail orders (though they do still do wholesale, apparently) but they’ve got a huge list of resources about labour ethics and sweatshop free clothing manufacturers.
I have a couple of pairs of footwear from Novacas, and I love them dearly. They’re vegan and union made in Portugal, but are unfortunately hard to find. I’ve also bought a pair from Moo Shoes (who only sell vegan shoes and accessories), and their customer service was good; I’d buy from them again.
Beyond Skin is a British vegan shoe company, who make shoes in the EU. Again, most of the companies I’ve found are based in Britain, making shipping expensive for us in North America.
I’ve found some really nice necklaces, bracelets and scarves at 10,000 Villages. The scarves tend to be expensive, but the jewelry is often quite reasonably priced, and everything in the store is fairly traded. Sometimes they have clothing, too, but not always.
Independent collectives (often run by women) are great ways to directly support the people who make the goods, since you’re buying from the artisans directly. Collectives often teach women in their communities skills to become literate and can help them become financially stable, which is critically important. A few I’ve stumbled across on the internet: Mekong Blue (silk scarves from Cambodia), Global Mamas (all sorts of things from Ghana), Las Otras Hermanas (clothes from Juárez, Mexico). Buying directly from artisans doesn’t have to come from across the world — local artisans are often found at farmer’s markets, or in stores specializing in handmade goods. I’ve found some lovely pieces of jewelry at artisan fairs and street festivals, too — it’s often not all tie dye and children’s clothing!
Lastly, it’s a bit obvious, but Etsy’s full of people who make gorgeous clothes in their living rooms. A few I really like to window-shop: Liza Rietz, Econica, Sandmaiden, Jane Bon Bon, and Ureshii. Etsy’s great for finding plus size and custom-sized stuff too — the last two in particular have large size ranges.
ADDENDUM, July 20th: Rad_in_Brooklyn had a great post on a company doing things right, kindly linked here, and added this listing of vegan, ethical companies. Again, no endorsement intended, just compiling information for those of you interested. Thanks, Rad_in_Brooklyn!