In today’s world, it’s easy for ethically sourced clothing to get completely lost in the shuffle. ‘Fast fashion’, or clothing sourced with a questionable moral compass, is almost all that remains in the dwindling storefronts in malls across America. Every social media influencer offers a link in their bio for a discount code to a retailer overseas. Often, these brands focus more on pumping out trendy pieces at affordable prices than worrying about the moral standards of their manufacturing practices.
Although ethically sourced clothing continues to get harder and harder to come by, it’s not impossible to find. Keep reading to learn about the three things you should look for if you want to ensure your garments come from an ethically sourced retailer.
Supply Chain Transparency
You need to look at every stage of the supply chain. You wouldn’t marry someone without learning about their upbringing and family (unless you’re a Married at First Sight contestant, then you do you). Generally, the same concept applies to garments. In order to ensure a garment is actually organic and ethically sourced, you need to learn about each step of the production process.
The farm that grows the cotton and the gin where the cotton gets processed and spun into yarn should be GOTS certified by a third-party certifier such as IFOAM Family Standards. This ensures that the product is organic and responsibly processed. The yarn needs to be properly labeled because organic and non-organic yarn look exactly the same. Next, the yarn gets knit into fabric. And, you guessed it, it’s important the manufacturer is both certified organic and follows socially responsible practices for their workers.
Ethically sourced clothing made with certified organic cotton wins in sustainability over non-organic materials for two main reasons:
First, certified organic cotton producers use manual techniques to make the yarn and eventual fabric soft. Non-organic cotton manufacturers rely on harsh chemicals that can be harmful to the environment. These chemicals tend to wash out after a few rinse cycles. This means non-organic materials do not maintain their softness and quality for as long. This brings us to our second reason.
Non-organic clothing, sourced un-sustainably tends to provide much lower quality. This means many consumers discard the clothing faster and that clothing ultimately ends up in landfills. (Instead of becoming a vintage heirloom like a high-quality garment!)
Promises Beyond Product
A good indicator when looking for ethically sourced clothing is to look at what the company is doing to give back. Remember TOMS? Unless you were living under a rock in 2006, you probably remember the shoe brand pioneered the One for One® model. They pledged to donate a pair of shoes for every pair sold. However, they have since shifted their model to donate 1/3 of their profit to grassroots causes, but other companies have since followed suit in the clothing industry in their goal to give back.
One example is The Classic T-shirt Company. They support initiatives including safe water, tree planting, and ocean clean-up by pledging 1% of their equity, sales, and time. Another company, Recover Sustainable Apparel Co. pledges 1% of total sales to environmental nonprofits.
Looking to learn more about organic cotton? Check out our blog “What are the Most Comfortable Custom T-shirts?”. Ready to start your next screenprinting job on ethically sourced clothing? Contact a Daymaker today, and let’s make it happen!