Blog Ethical Fashion People

Insights From 15 Ethical Fashion Bloggers

Top Ethical Bloggers
Written by Jennifer Nini

Many people assume that with 5 years of ethical fashion blogging under my belt, I would know everything there is to know about this space. That is a fallacy. Life is a continuous learning process and anyone who thinks they know everything about a subject matter is arrogant.

My understanding of this industry continues to develop through reading books but also because of other individuals, and in particular, fellow ethical bloggers. They challenge and inspire me to grow and learn as each has a different approach, a unique perspective and a passionate voice that adds another dimension to what I think I know.

We know that transforming the world can’t be done alone; that partnering with like-minded people help movements, well, move forward. Collaboration is invaluable to the cause, to all causes. So knowing that the Eco Warrior Princess blog was turning 5, I sent a survey a few months ago to a number of the world’s prolific ethical bloggers. My hope was to share their thoughts with you. What I got was so much more: invaluable insights to what they really care about, how they define sustainable and ethical fashion and advice on ethical shopping.

It took me a while to compile the results (it had nothing to do with the bloggers, just getting the time to write with the demands of my digital start-up). So without further ado, here are the results:

How do you define ‘ethical fashion’?

It came as no surprise that all 15 of the bloggers linked this term with how people and workers are treated in the industry. The terms ‘socially responsible‘ ‘working conditions‘ ‘fair/living wages‘ ‘fair trade‘ were used in 10 of the 15  responses with many others using the phrases ‘human rights‘ and ‘maximises benefits for/to people.’ Only seven of them related ‘animals‘ or ‘cruelty-free‘ when defining ethical fashion. Five of the bloggers tied ethical fashion to impact on environment.

In their words:

“Ethical fashion is fashion that was made with social justice in mind. It is the fashion items that have been made using fair trade schemes, small business (hand made, local, etc), products that give back to communities/charities, and social enterprise schemes. Ethical can also include the exclusion of animal products and animal testing depending on the purchasers values.” – Katie Roberts, Sustainability in Style

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Katie Roberts, Sustainability in Style

“Ethical fashion is not the fast, cheap, disposable fashion that’s so popular among many of America’s retail chains. I consider fashion ethical when workers are treated right; their rights are protected, their working conditions are safe and healthy, and wages are what they deserve, which is well above minimum. Animal rights are also acknowledged and protected; fur and leather are NOT materials I’d find in what I consider to be ethical fashion.” – Christina Holloway, video blogger, Nubrosky

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Christina Holloway, vblogger, Nubrosky

What is ‘sustainable fashion’ to you?

All respondents related the term ‘sustainable fashion‘ to the environment with many using the phrase ‘minimising impact on the environment.’ Nearly half of the bloggers pointed out that there was crossover with this term and the term ‘ethical fashion.‘ A couple of bloggers also tied in the concept of ‘triple bottom line.’ Only one blogger linked sustainable fashion with ‘closed loop productions.’

In their words:

“I’ve always considered sustainable fashion to be a little bit of an oxymoron, just because fashion is about creating new wants that previously weren’t in the market. We want everything around for future generations, but when an industry is known for pushing trends on consumers, how do we slow it down in order to save it for the rest of humanity?? That is where sustainable fashion comes in handy. Do we love fashion? YES. Does it drive our economy? YES. Does it fuel our culture? YES. Sustainable fashion to me is any garment that is creating a living wage, not destroying the environment, and is made to LAST.” – Natalie Kay Smith, founder of boutique and blog Sustainably Chic

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Natalie Kay Smith, Sustainably Chic

“I define “sustainable fashion” as fashion that will last, that will sustain itself. The resources and ways of production are not depleting either natural or social resources, ideally they are actually contributing to the health of the planet and its people. Sustainable fashion also refers to the consumer – I want to buy items that can sustain me, too. I want the price point to be appropriate, I want the style to be relatively versatile and timeless (or else, very very special!) and I want the quality of the item to be top notch. Something that is well made and fairly paid for and that will stand the test of time in terms of both structure and style.” – Faye Lessler, Sustaining Life

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Faye Lessler, Sustaining Life

What are your top 3 ethical considerations when purchasing fashion?

The bloggers were given a list of 11 factors to choose from such as certified organic fabrics, fair-trade certification, ethical production, buying second-hand, made locally, corporate social responsibility program. They were also given the opportunity to nominate their own if it wasn’t in the list.

The two key factors that the bloggers considered when making a purchase are ‘ethical production‘ and ‘eco-friendly materials.’ Nearly all of the bloggers, 13 in fact, listed ‘ethical production‘ in their top 3 considerations. 11 of them nominated ‘eco-friendly materials‘ but only two specified ‘certified organics‘ as being a priority. Just two of the 15 bloggers surveyed prioritised ‘vegan‘ fashion.

Who are your top 3 ethical/sustainable brands?

While the responses varied, the most popular brands are (in order of popularity): Amour VertPeople Tree and Everlane. Three bloggers admitted to prioritising the purchase of second hand before explaining the brands they admired.

What’s your number one piece of advice for people looking to shop ethically?

The most popular piece of advice: ‘do research,’ with more than half of the respondents encouraging people to educate themselves before making purchases. The second most popular response prompted shoppers to ask themselves whether they needed the item to begin with.

In their words:

Have a general idea of what you’re looking for before you start shopping. Both in terms of what will work well for your lifestyle and with your current wardrobe and in terms of the top eco/ethical characteristics you’re looking for (organic materials, fair trade, secondhand, etc.). That will help you refine your search which is less overwhelming, avoid distractions and impulse purchases, and focus on a piece that you’ll get a lot of use from and feel good about owning.” – Verena Erin Polowy, vlogger, My Green Closet.

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“Ask yourself if you REALLY need to buy anything right now? If yes, then ask does it need to be something brand new?” – Kendall Benton-Collins, Kindness By Design

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Kendall Benton-Collins, Kindness By Design

Thank you to all the wonderful bloggers for taking the time to complete my survey and providing the responses that lay the foundation of this piece. I learned plenty about each of you and will be citing some more of your comments in future articles. I am grateful to all of you for enriching my blogging experience and ethical journey with your stories, opinions and comments. You guys rock!

Anyway to learn more about the bloggers featured in this piece, make sure to follow them on social media and subscribe to their newsletters/YouTube channels.

Did you enjoy this post? What’s your biggest take away from having read it? Do you follow any of the bloggers/vloggers featured? We’d love to hear from you so make sure to leave a comment.

Enjoyed this post & want to show your gratitude? Then please support Eco Warrior Princess on Patreon!

About the author

Jennifer Nini

Jennifer Nini is a writer, activist and the founding editor of Eco Warrior Princess. In 2010, after studying Fashion Business, she launched Eco Warrior Princess to explore her interests in fashion, politics, social justice and sustainability. Jennifer is also the founder of The Social Copywriter, a digital agency harnessing the power of copywriting and content marketing to help mindful businesses reach more people. When she's not perfecting a sentence or coaching business clients, you will find her at her certified organic farm reconnecting with nature.

17 Comments

  • Love reading everyone’s responses and thoughts! For some reason I hadn’t thought to include sustainable as something that sustains your wardrobe and provide a sustainable living wage, but it all makes sense. Sustainable can mean that it gives someone a long-lasting wage or a garment in their wardrobe that has longevity and versatility.

    • Absolutely! Finding a way for us to gain sustainable wages is important no matter which part of the world one is from. It’s been wonderful to read the responses and see the variations. Having said that, many of the responses to the critical questions didn’t differ all that much. I liked that some people also mentioned the tripe bottom line because although capitalism has its issues, its the only system we have and when not abused/tinkered/tampered with and when profit is not the sole motivation, can actually work ok.

    • No worries Jess, glad to connect you with people of similar views and values. Stay tuned as I will attempt to survey some boutique owners too for their thoughts on the industry 🙂

        • Wonderful to hear Jess, on another note, do you have any feedback on the newsletters? Am I covering the things you want to see or am I off the mark? Honesty very much appreciated. I have a VERY thick skin (I may eventually head into politics, it’s something I’ve always cared about!)

          • Well I was very mindful when answering here & actually went back through the latest email to confirm my feelings. I love that you are addressing eco-living at different levels ie: the ethical eating for beginners~not everyone is ready to go off grid, grow their own food and wear only used or eco clothing and the fact that you are giving them a starting point which I believe is so important.
            Visually it is nice, clean and appealing.
            I love the links at the bottom, what a great source.
            As for politics, exposing truths is so important. I think of the Food Babe and how she just tells what the truth is and rallies people behind that truth~that is how it is done in my book!
            🙂

          • Thanks Jess for your feedback. Good to know I’m on the right track. Yes I am somewhat familiar with the Food Babe as I am in digital marketing and she is often used as an example of a person who fights for the ‘food truth’ which I absolutely applaud her for. How are you going up there? I remember when we first connected which was actually through the video you did with the guys that run that online show on Google + I got a sense of your shop and how you really personalise your service. How’s the business going and the wider US economy? We got a change in leadership in Australia and I’m hoping it restores consumer and business confidence. I have clients who are a little more upbeat now with the change in PM which is a good thing in my book:) The last one was far too conservative and ignorant of climate change issues and had no idea at all about how the policies would affect the most vulnerable in our society.

  • Hi Jennifer,
    I really enjoyed reading this article! As a blogger myself, I don’t necessarily identify myself as a ‘sustainable fashion blogger’. In 2015 I’ve become a lot more aware of this sector of the fashion industry, and have become really passionate about it. I love hearing the thoughts of the bloggers who are intentionally sustainable in their fashion choices and personal brand identity, it’s heartening to know there are bloggers committed to being stylish and ethical at the same time!

    After doing some research on the bigger brands and conglomerates about their priorities surrounding fair trade within their practices, it can sometimes feel as though the small contribution of one person can’t make much of a difference when competing with fast fashion and mass production. Finances also play a part in my buying choices, as it’s sadly not cheap being eco friendly!

    What really struck a chord with me were events like Fashion Revolution day, which tries to draw the attention of big brands to hold them to account over their dodgy production methods. The idea of not necessarily cutting off these company, but demanding more from them really interested me.

    As someone who loves fashion and doesn’t always have the budget to buy local eco fashion over big brands, it’s a murky ethical area. What are your thoughts on finding a balance?
    Meg xx

    • Hi Meg!

      Glad this article struck a chord with you and great to hear that you’re on the ‘conscious’ consumption train. I understand finances can make it difficult but it’s not impossible. I tend not to buy many fashion items through the year as I have cultivated a wardrobe that doesn’t need much adding to. I also practice mindfulness in my wardrobe so although I am not as strict as my minimalist friends with their ‘capsule’ wardrobes, I avoid buying things I don’t need. Because I am very selective about adding to my wardrobe, I save a fair bit of money. When I do make a purchase, I can then justify the expense because I know I am making a ‘mindful’ purchase, will purchase something I really love and that is well-made and eco-friendly and it will be something I will take care of (I am known for being very pedantic with my clothes, meticulous in its care and I tend to keep clothes for a very long time because of this). I also tend to look at cost per wear as I see clothes as investments (ie. how often will I wear it and keep it versus its cost?)

      I also enjoy buying vintage and second-hand so eBay is another good way to save if you are budget conscious. For example, my last purchase was a second-hand Oroton tote bag on eBay as it was the right size for the new Apple Mac my partner gave me for my birthday. There are also some wonderful ethical brands that are inexpensive and won’t break the bank (although it depends on your definition of ‘inexpensive’).

      My suggestion is that you consider your own ethics, what you want from a brand, what you can afford, what is important to you. Are human rights important to you? Are natural fabrics important? Is buying second-hand important (sustainable option)? Is fair wages important? Do you care about animal rights? When you start to answer these questions, you start to develop an idea of what you want and you begin to research brands that fit in with your values. You’ve just started your journey but it will develop over time. Remember that there is no such thing as perfection – it’s about progress. You’ll learn lots and you’re values may change. Before you know it, you’re applying what you learn not just to fashion but all areas of life. That’s whats happened with many of us that blog about this industry 🙂

      Jen xx

  • I loved reading this post! Thanks for compiling (and for everyone who contributed). With “ethical fashion” being such a subjective term, it’s so good to read about and be inspired by what it actually means to people who are thinking about it a lot.

    • Thanks Ella! Yes it is a very subjective term but it is wonderful to know that people are at least exploring it on their own terms and finding out what it means to them. And I know that these women in their own way, are also encouraging people to think about ethical fashion. It is an exciting time in the industry don’t you think? 🙂

  • Hi Jennifer,

    I really found the article very nice as it tells me more about the insight of other people who is actually working to promote the sustainable fashion concept. I’d like to share a bit about my thought. I started to aware of the importance of wearing responsibly few years ago. Eco-fashion somehow wrongly gives people an image about non-fashionable, or low quality, etc. That’s why I think it’s very important to produce high quality products while they’re very fashionable with nice design, and of course at the end we spread the message that these cool products are sustainable or socially responsible. With this mindset, I made a watch label in 2014 and I keep spreading the message of make social fashion/business “sexy” to my friends. I really wish that every brands make their products in a responsible way.

    Thank you so much for the article again!

    Cheers,
    Wilson

    • Hi Wilson, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Yes aesthetics is important. If a product is stylish/cool/beautiful/functional, then people will be more open to listening to the ethical/sustainable story. We know the ‘ethical story’ is a secondary concern. The primary concern is how it looks, what it says about a person’s identity and how it makes a person feel 🙂

  • Traduci

    Muchas gracias por el post,
    han sido muy instructivas cada opinion de las blogger.
    Nosotros como pequeño brand
    nos sentimos realmente orgullosos de formar parte
    de esta causa.
    Creo que un cambio real en cada unos en nuestros habitos
    contribuirá con el tiempo a construir
    un futuro sostenible y mejor.
    Gracias nuevamente

    Thank you very much for the post,
    They have been very instructive each review of the blogger.
    We as a small brand
    we feel really proud to be part
    this cause.
    I think a real change in each one in our habits
    will contribute over time to build
    sustainable and better future.
    Thanks again

  • Thank you very much for the post,
    They have been very instructive each review of the blogger.
    We as a small brand
    we feel really proud to be part
    this cause.
    I think a real change in each one in our habits
    will contribute over time to build
    sustainable and better future.
    Thanks again

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