I have gotten several questions on where to find handmade clothing or ethically produced clothing.
I have to start by saying that while this is something I have been exploring for a long time, the actual act of mindfully purchasing our clothing is brand new to me. Because we are trying not to spend ANY money unnecessarily I haven’t bought clothing for anyone in our family for nearly a year. We are now to the point where we’re all needing something or other, so we are carefully considering where and how to purchase our clothing.
Because this is new we have a closet full of haphazardly purchased clothing from anywhere and made of anything. It would be wasteful to simply throw all of these things out so we will replace these items with items that more align with responsible purchasing.
Eventually I would like to be able to make my own clothing from the materials of my choosing. Now that my sewing machine is up and running (as of yesterday), this may become more of a reality in the future.
Because I am not making my own clothing yet, my first inclination is to buy used. I know that some people frown upon this, but it makes sense to me. When we are done using something (clothes, toys, etc.) and we throw it away, it simply piles up. Why not get the most out of all of our consumables before they end up in a dump someday. Repurposing clothing and objects can make them like new and saves a lot on waste. Plus, most used clothing stores actually help employ individuals who may not be able to find work otherwise.
Some things you are not able to find at a second-hand store and must be purchased new. In that case we have much more of a choice in how these items are produced. When we choose items that are made from quality materials and in an ethical way we are sending a message that we won’t tolerate child labor, heavily sprayed textiles or underpaid workers.
Here are some priorities I have set for our future clothing purchases:
1). Who am I supporting in making this purchase?
Will this encourage poor treatment of workers in some far off land? Is this money going to some already rich individual who underpays his workers?
Our family’s preference is to support small, preferably local businesses. We especially like to support stay at home mom’s, since I am one and understand how a little extra income can help.
2). Where did it come from?
Was it made in China by a small child too young to be working or perhaps in Taiwan by a mother who isn’t getting paid fairly for her work?
While locally made would be nice, simply knowing where it is made and by whom is the most important. Seeing a tag that says “made in China” doesn’t tell you anything about what conditions it was made under.
3). Are the raw materials sprayed with pesticides?
I have read that cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in our country. Even though I am not eating it, I’m sure it is still harmful for our skin. After all, I like the policy of don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth. In addition to harming those of us who wear the clothing, it also harms the workers and the soil.
Obviously organic is best, but not nearly as important as the above priorities.
4). What is it made of? We prefer natural materials such as cotton, wool, linen and silk.
Now that I know where our priorities are, I need you to help me find clothing makers who can fulfill those priorities.
- Do you make clothing yourself?
- Do you know someone else who does?
- Have you found a good source for children’s, men’s or women’s clothing?
- Is there a retailer you have heard good things about and are wanting to try?
Please share with me in the comments and I will put your suggestions together with a few of my own next week. We can then have a list of resources for our clothing purchases.
**The photos above are from an article I ran across when researching this topic. I recommend taking a look.**