Ethically-made dresses and other clothing items have gained popularity in recent years, as brands seek to accommodate a consumer base that is increasingly aware of socio-economic issues such as fair wages and unsafe working conditions.
While this rise in demand for ethical dresses and sustainable fashion may seem like just another trend, there is plenty of evidence to indicate that this is not the case. In fact, it would appear that the entire clothing industry is at a kind of crossroads, where they are being forced to adapt and do away with many outdated, wasteful, and unethical practices.
What many of us are realizing is that dresses can still be stylish and comfortable without being designed in exploitative ways. Now that so many people are aware of this fact, we’re seeing a significant rise in ethical brands that are doing things differently, creating products through a more compassionate lens.
The following points illustrate why these new trends in fashion are here to stay, and will only become more widespread as we collectively do away with the old industry practices and replace them with ones that are ethical and conscious.
Setting a New Industry Standard
There’s nothing new about the fashion industry catering to what’s popular. Traditionally, fashion as an industry has always followed what is trendy in terms of current tastes, the seasons, what pop icons are choosing to wear, and even various social movements.
In part, this is due to how we identify ourselves with what we wear. People want clothing that echoes their own thoughts about the world and that allows them to properly broadcast their personality. It only makes sense that clothing companies would want to capitalize on this by riding trends and catering to public sentiment.
It’s easy to be suspicious of an industry that has been so unethical, and assume that most popular clothing brands are only using inclusive speech and ethical terminology to appeal to the times. However, there are brands that are making it their business to create a more sustainable and ethical model in terms of clothing production as a whole.
These brands are setting a new standard in the industry, by doing more than just talking about change. They are actively practicing ethical fashion that doesn’t rely on the exploitation of workers or the degradation of the planet. For instance, many of these ethical brands choose to make their dresses and other clothing items in small batches rather than adhere to the same old systems of mass production.
While this is less cost effective, it’s far more sustainable. What many larger corporations are beginning to realize is that people will pay more for quality. It’s not about the price, it’s about coming away with a product you can feel good about, that you can be proud to wear because it embodies your values.
What makes clothing ethical, however? These values buck many of the classic trends in modern fashion, involving key matters of social justice and environmentalism.
1. Clothing That Honors The Artisans
With a greater emphasis on workers’ rights and sustainable supply chains, one of the central aspects of ethical fashion is in the treatment of workers.
Even those who are relatively new to the idea of sustainable clothing production and these new ethical movements are likely to have heard about the plight of workers overseas. Horrible factory conditions, broken communities, pitiful wages. Many big name companies have been dragged into the spotlight over the years as stories emerge of exploited workers in countries such as Taiwan, Indonesia, and elsewhere.
Ethical fashion paints an entirely different picture than this. Brands that are seeking to create a more conscious model actually work alongside the artisans creating the products, rather than against them. This is done through fair-trade agreements, worker education programs, living wages, and community-building.
Many of the clothing brands that produce high-quality ethical dresses, for instance, invest in programs that provide additional resources for women living in impoverished communities.
The heart of the ethical fashion movement resides in how workers are honored rather than taken advantage of. Brands are now going out of their way to source local talent and form lasting relationships rather than lopsided corporate partnerships.
2. An Alternative to Fast Fashion
After researching the issues surrounding the current state of the fashion industry, it’s easy to come away somewhat incredulous. What is the reasoning behind exploitative labor? Why would US companies create factories overseas and knowingly engage in such unethical means of production?
These questions are key to understanding why a more ethical fashion industry needs to be forged in the first place: an overreliance on fast fashion.
The exploitative nature of the fashion industry extends well beyond just the treatment of workers. It even includes how consumers themselves are viewed. This hyper-capitalist model relies heavily on lighting quick trends and constant advertising that creates demand for yet more products. All the while, consumers lose out because they spend more money and come away with products that are shoddily made and rely on unethical practices to be created in the first place.
An ethical fashion industry does not rely on mass production and fly by night trends. Instead, products are typically handmade and created with high-quality renewable materials. The supply chains are far more localized, and distribution can be somewhat limited depending on the brand and how they choose to sell their products.
It is worth noting here why online marketplaces and clothing stores are taking off, because it allows for a wider disruption of products instead of necessarily having to rely on brick and mortar boutiques. This is just another example of how the entire industry is changing to become not only more worker-centric, but beneficial for the consumer as well.
Fast fashion is problematic for other reasons as well. In an industry where there is such a high demand for new items, inevitably older clothes wind up in the trash. Many of the fabrics these clothes are created from aren’t even biodegradable, and simply pile up in landfills. This places an ever-growing burden on our already strained environment.
While the main focus of ethical fashion is the treatment of workers, the state of the environment does play a significant role here. It is known that areas of the world that are most impacted by climate change tend to be impoverished areas that lack the infrastructure and resources to combat environmental deterioration. It is often these exploited workers that feel the brunt of droughts, diseases, poor crop yields, land erosion, hotter temperatures, polluted waterways, and so on.
The idea that a discarded dress that winds up in a landfill might have a negative impact on the environment may seem somewhat far-fetched, but it’s the reality we are dealing with. These tiny careless actions compound over time, and result in a world where the average American creates roughly 80 pounds of textile waste per year. This adds up to an almost absurd degree, especially when you begin looking at how aggressively certain clothing brands market brand new products.
Ethical clothing brands are investing in what many are calling a “slow fashion” model, one that lessens the demand for new materials by sourcing deadstock fabrics and relying on renewable materials as well. These brands also use natural fibers whenever possible, because these place less of a strain on the environment during production and are also much more biodegradable.
3. Sustainable Fabrics Are Here to Stay
Great strides have been made in recent years to create comfortable fabrics that are eco-friendly and more aligned with the idea of an ethical fashion industry. Many of these new technologies are revolutionary given how affordable they are to produce and how adaptable they are in terms of their applications.
While certified organic cotton, hemp, and even bamboo are making the rounds as quality sustainable fabrics, these materials aren’t the only solution. Econyl, or regenerated nylon, for instance, is a newer synthetic material that is soft, versatile, and helps to reduce the constant demand for brand new materials to be created.
One of the main indicators that the fashion industry is trending in the right direction is this newfound emphasis on the creation and use of sustainable materials. Many brands are going out of their way to only use fabrics that are safe for the environment, such as cotton and silk, as well as renewable or upcycled materials as well.
As brands alike learn more about how such wasteful practices negatively impact the environment, it becomes clear that reverting back to a more wasteful way of doing things is not going to be the answer. Brands will have to continue to innovate and use reliable sustainable practices in the production of their products if they want to stay relevant and not be seen as wasteful.
A Higher Degree of Quality
The final point worth mentioning in regards to why ethical clothing is more than a trend is simply that consumers are looking for higher quality products. Rather than shopping for dresses that will wind up collecting dust after a single season, conscious consumers want to invest in clothing that’s worthwhile. Pieces that not only look fashionable but that are designed out of high-quality materials that will last longer than a few months.
What’s markedly different about many ethical clothing brands is the emphasis they place on quality. From elegant party gowns to casual and comfy shirtdresses, there’s a growing sentiment that dresses and other wardrobe essentials should be designed with care, using top-quality fabrics and timeless designs that defy fast fashion trends.
Many of the brands featured right here at ourCommonplace embody this degree of quality, with pieces that utilize stylish cuts and high-quality sustainable fabrics. Handmade dresses that are carefully woven by skilled artisans possess a visual quality and feel that is hard to capture otherwise, and knowing that these pieces were crafted ethically and in an eco-conscious manner only makes them more appealing.
An ethical dress that is fair trade certified and that uses durable, comfortable, sustainable material will become a lasting part of your wardrobe rather than just another piece of clothing that will end up getting tossed when the next trend catches steam. Conscious buying choices that focus on real quality helps to support brands that are making a difference in the lives of workers and their families.
Making Ethical Choices With Your Wardrobe
Despite the prominence of fast fashion, these points make it clear that there is a better way of doing things. Fashion doesn’t have to possess the same old negative connotations, especially as brands make the push toward a more sustainable model that actually considers how workers are treated and the health of the environment as well.
Though individual purchasing choices seem like such a small act, it’s our support for ethical brands that ultimately drive demand for these kinds of items. By taking attention off of fast fashion and putting money into products that are designed with integrity, we are essentially doing our part to create a better standard in the industry.
Here at ourCommonplace, we support brands that are making a significant difference through their actions and the products that they offer. Whether it’s through the implementation of programs designed to better the lives of women, initiatives that strengthen local communities, or simply through the use of sustainable practices, these brands are doing their part to prove that ethical fashion is far more than a mere trend.
If the attractive qualities of these clothing items have piqued your interest, we encourage you to take a look at our collection of gorgeous ethical dresses that are available here in our marketplace. We carefully vet each brand in order to ensure that they meet our standards in terms of their commitment to ethical practices and sustainability as well.
We also feature a wide variety of attractive ethical jewelry, shoes, and accessories that will help you create a stunning wardrobe that you can feel great about wearing. If you are ready to leave fast fashion behind, we have made it as convenient as possible to do so.