What is Ethical Fashion?

What is ethical fashion, anyway?

It’s a term you’re going to be seeing and hearing a lot, so we thought we should define ethical fashion as we know it. For newly invested and well informed consumers, here’s what the ESJ team thinks:

We believe ethical fashion is thoughtful fashion that considers who and what it will affect and how. This means sourcing materials that are friendlier to the environment, including water, animals and plant life; reducing the impact of production practices, including transportation of fabrics and textiles; and thinking about relationships with and welfare of artisans and manufacturers.

The people who work in this industry design and create based on these standards.

Fair Trade

Refers to the labor practices for individuals and factories. You might see organic cotton labeled as Fair Trade. This means the process of sourcing that cotton meets the requirements of the organization’s fair labor codes and principles, which, in short, ensures that the cotton farmers receive a fair price for their cotton. You also will see this term referring directly to a factory where garments are made, to indicate that people have fair, safe and healthy working conditions. Those operating under fair trade certifications, must adhere to the principles laid out by the managing Fair Trade organization. World Fair Trade Organization and Fair Trade USA are among the more well-known organizations and leaders in the fair-trade movement. mata-artisan_forblog1

If we continue to monitor and emphasize the importance of fair trade practices, we have better chances of winning the fight against poverty, climate change and global economic crises. Artisans, farmers and workers all over the world can continue to earn a fair wage for their work, provide a better life for their families and rebuild their communities.


If we are being completely honest, even within this healthier fashion movement, we still have a ways to go. We still use a lot of natural resources to make clothes, and that is an area where we must continue to improve. Using tencel, modal, and surplus fabrics are great alternatives to produce fashion that is friendlier to the environment than most clothing available from major retailers, where fast, cheap fashion reigns. Additionally, the dyeing processes are friendlier, as most ethical companies use low-impact, non-toxic dyes. They also produce limited runs in products and sizes, or use a made-to-order model to minimize waste.

See the beauty of eco-friendly active wear by Yoga Democracy.

See the beauty of eco-friendly active wear by Yoga Democracy.


Without conscious, ethical practices, fashion will continue to cause great harm to our planet. We need a system in place that encourages growth and improvement in the quality of life for people, animals and the earth. Ethical fashion emphasizes sustainability by producing textiles from renewable sources, like plant cellulose extracted from beech trees and bamboo plants; avoiding animal skin and animal by-products; and implementing policies that allow garment workers and industry artisans to thrive. We will be around for a while, so we must think beyond profits and expenses, make smart decisions, and help make our world a happier and healthier place.

See Bead & Reel’s collection for conscientious women.

See Bead & Reel’s collection for conscientious women.

Vegan & Cruelty Free

We believe in respecting animal life, and that means choosing not to exploit animals for fashion. While some manufacturers have found more sustainable ways to produce leather, wool and silk-based garments, we prefer to shine light on those who have discovered new, innovative ways to create fashion without causing direct or indirect harm to our precious animals. Fortunately, we have tons of makers who share our values. You’ll get to meet them and learn more about their practices in our “Meet the Makers” magazine feature.


See Hipsters for Sisters luxury, vegan belt bags.

Ethical fashion is fashion made with love. Here at Ethical Style Journal we want to celebrate the progress we’re making in reducing pollution to our planet, protecting our animals, and fighting poverty around the world.

Learn more about beautiful fashion made with love and the people behind it by subscribing to our new, digital magazine. Look good, feel good, do good!


ESJ Team