It may seem like a weird thing to talk about whether your clothes align with your values, but it’s a valid question. Our values, our morals, and our priorities in life inform all the decisions we make. We might spend time and money on religion. Or buy organic. Our education and career reflect our interests and skills. We choose friends and where to live. We vote (well, hopefully!) for candidates who reflect these values as well. Maybe some of us are more intentional about these things than others to varying degrees, but we all have used our life experiences to inform our values and the decisions we make.
So, do you think about your values when shopping for clothes? I know for me, I did not. The disconnect here is strange, because I was a conscious shopper in other ways. I avoided restaurants that were anti-LGBT. I joined a CSA and supported local kids when buying beef at the fair. We cloth diaper our babies, use glass leftover containers, and washable sandwich bags. I chose very specifically what organizations to support when donating to charity. In general, I was intentional about where and how I spent my money. But I never once thought about clothes until I watched The True Cost on Netflix.
Know better, do better, right? I started to make slow changes in my wardrobe just like I had in other areas in my life. I did some research and decided what topics were important to me: women’s education, treatment of garment workers, and sustainability of business and products. I looked into brands that supported these ideals, and I support them when I shop.
But, this is where things get interesting! As you might expect, there is not a one size fits all solution. I think that’s part of what makes shopping ethically so complicated, but also really exciting. We might not share the same interests or values, and that’s okay! There’s a whole world of options in the ethical fashion industry and there’s bound to be many options that suit not only your values, but also your style and comfort. And once we make the initial leap of being more intentional after discovering our values, it becomes second nature. We feel good in the clothes we are wearing because they fully align with who we are, and that is not something worth sacrificing.