Shop By Ethic: What Do These Terms Mean?
by Sica Schmitz | Posted on January 06 2017
Labelling is important to us. How can you be a conscious consumer if you don't have enough information to make conscious decisions?
In our shop there are certain things you can take as absolute, such as the total absence of animal products or byproducts, and the firm stance on being sweatshop-free. We take the most egregious violations out of fashion, but beyond that, we know that people can be nuanced and we want to make it easy for you to find things that fit with your personal ethics.
Along with always providing you with the information on where our products are made and from what they are created, each item in our shop is labeled with several of our 15 different possible ethics so that you can decide what's important to you. We'll give you the information - and the best options we can find - and then let you decide what you want to support.
Fair Trade means fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries. While this should be the rule and not the exception, as of now it's still a relatively radical concept in fashion. When a business operates under Fair Trade standards it adheres to 10 principles, including transparency, poverty reduction, no child labor, and gender equity. There are several different certifying agencies including Fair Trade USA, Fair Trade Federation, and World Fair Trade Organization, which oversee and hold accountable certified companies.
For our use, Fair Trade means companies that both adhere to Fair Trade principles and are certified.
While Fair Trade is wonderful in theory, the certification process can be long and costly, making it unobtainable for very new or very small businesses. There are still many wonderful companies operating under Fair Trade principles without the certifications, and that's what we call Artisan Made.
For our use, Artisan Made means companies which have signed a contract with us promising to adhere to the 10 Fair Trade principles.
As of 2016, than 4% of Fortune 500 CEOS are women, with an even smaller percentage occupying the fashion space. And while we women make up over 50% of the population, our voices simple aren't being given equal opportunities in positions of power. So to counter this, we are committed to supporting female founders and building up woman-owned companies.
For our use, Female Founder means that at least one owner in the company is a woman.
While - honestly - we believe that any man or woman should feel comfortable wearing anything they wish, we do live in a gendered society. To help take steps into a more...well, neutral, mindset, we try to offer options that are neither masculine nor feminine and could be worn easily by either gender even in our current culture.
For our use, Gender Neutral means it is neither conventionally for men nor women - it's for both.
Giving Back is at the very core of our business, and while we Give Back each month to a different cause, we also love supporting companies that give back on their end as well (double giving back!).
For our use, Gives Back means that the brand gives a percentage of their profits to a specified cause or charity.
MADE IN USA
Less than 3% of clothing sold in the USA is made in the USA, down from 80% just a few decades ago. Along with supporting local factories and garment workers, manufacturing in the USA also helps keep money in our local communities and strengthens our economy. However, just because it is Made in USA does not mean it wasn't made in a sweatshop. While we have labor laws in our country that protect workers, they are often ignored, especially when it comes to immigrant workers, so it's important to stay mindful of this label.
For our use, Made in USA means that something was manufactured in the United States and adheres to our labor laws.
MADE TO ORDER
Textiles waste is a huge problem, with over 11 million tons of garments ending up in landfills each year - and that's just in America. Part of the problem is that many consumers buying cheap things made to fall apart (which end up being thrown away), and part of the problem is that fashion brands overproducing unsellable items. When a brand manufactures by Made To Order standards, it means that things are only created as they are needed, making it not only special, but also less wasteful.
For our use, Made To Order means that something is made specially for you, preserving resources and eliminating waste.
A nonprofit is an organization that is created for a reason other than making a profit, usually dedicated to furthering a particular social cause or advocating for a particular point of view.
For our use, Nonprofit means that the brand is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3).
Cotton covers 2.5% of cultivated land and uses 16% of the world’s pesticides, among other harrowing facts about this popular fiber. Organic cotton, on the other hand, is not pesticide-intensive and is non-GMO. The GOTS organic certification oversees farming methods along with labor standards (such as fair wages and avoiding child labor), and can apply to other natural fibers such as hemp, soy, and linen. For a deep read into why we support organic cotton, founder Sica Schmitz wrote this.
For our use, Organic means that raw fibers are non-GMO and grown under environmentally and socially responsible methods.
There is simply no way to remove a part of an animal's body without causing some harm (either physical, mental, emotional, or all of the above), so everything we sell is vegan, which means it excludes animal parts and animal byproducts including angora, bone, cashmere, down, fur, lambswool, lanolin, leather, mohair, silk, suede, and wool. What does this leave? Lots! Cotton, hemp, wool, modal, lyocell, bamboo, cork, nylon, polyester, spandex, plastic (which is what most vegan leather is made from), and more. For a more in-depth look into these vegan textiles, check out our past blog posts.
For our use, Vegan means it is contains no animals or animal byproducts (and spoiler alert: everything in our shop carries this ethic).
Just as with food, being vegan and being plant based aren't quite the same thing. Being vegan means eating everything but animals (which can include lots of unhealthy, delicious processed foods such as donuts, Oreos, and potato chips), while being plant based means eating foods made from plants. The same is true for our fashion: everything is vegan and excludes animals, but the Plant Based label helps you find those healthy, natural fibers.
For our use, Plant Based means it is made from natural fibers such as cotton, hemp, linen, cork, or soy.
Fashion is extremely resource intensive, using huge quantities of water, energy, and land, so one of the best ways to eliminate the need for new resources is to recycle resources which already exist. This can mean recycling the raw clothing fibers into new fabric or creating materials from recycled non-fashion content such as plastic bottles.
For our use, Recycled means some portion of the textiles are made from recycled materials.
Unlike with recycling - which breaks down materials to create something new - upcycling uses existing items or textiles and repurposes them. This could be taking old buttons to create earrings or cutting used dresses into fresh new shirts. Upcycling is a creative way to prevent waste and often leads to limited edition or one of a kind pieces.
For our use, Upcycled means that some portion of the item is made from previously existing content.
If you go out or your way to buy a vegan handbag, do you want your money to be used to buy a steak dinner? Probably not. So just as we want to support women-owned companies to see women thrive, we want to support vegan-owned companies to see veganism thrive as well.
For our use, Vegan Company means that 1 or more of the owners are vegan (and, just so you know, we are a 100% vegan owned company).
There are two popular ways of creating zero waste fashion. Skilled pattern makers can create patterns which use 100% of the material (leaving behind no scraps - which generally accounts for up to 15% of textiles waste), or garments can be created from remnant materials. This second option is similar to upcycling however it typically uses scraps as opposed to repurposing finished products.
For our use, Zero Waste means that it creates no textile scraps, or is made from textile scraps.