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Ethical Brands: NOs and GOs

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


I saw this post the other day about unique post ideas and one of the ideas is a boycott list. Basically, a list of brands you won't buy from because you believe them to be unethical. I thought that was a pretty cool idea, so I sat down and started researching unethical brands. The first ones I saw?
Gap. Nike. H&M. All the stores I shop at, basically. 

Now, before you start judging me because I didn't want to immediately stop buying from these brands, keep this in mind: I am over six feet tall. There are not a lot of places I can buy clothes at already, so limiting myself even further is a big deal. Additionally, there are certain kinds of clothing I simply could not buy if I were to cut every unethical company out of the playing field. I buy my yoga pants at Old Navy. As far as I know, the only other place I know of that sells 36" inseam yoga pants in a somewhat decent price range is Victoria's Secret, a far less ethical company in my opinion (and by "as far as I know," I mean "unless a new company started selling them last night because I have done hours upon hours of searching for tall clothes in my life and know all the companies that sell tall clothes.") 

So, for my boycott list, I've compiled a couple of stores that I will continue to never shop at, some I will stop shopping at and some I will limit shopping at, as well as a couple stores I've found to be very ethical and appropriate to shop at. My biggest priority is that a brand doesn't use unethical labor (that means no slaves, no sweat shops, no child labor etc.) I'm also a feminist, so I looked for brands that didn't sexually objectify women and supported healthy body image. Lastly, I believe in protecting the environment, so if a brand is eco-friendly it got bonus points.

Never have, never will:

Victoria's Secret: Not only are their labor practices atrocious, as I've recently learned, I've always disapproved of the way Victoria's Secret portrays women as sex objects. Definitely not cool.
Abercrombie & Fitch: First of all, they don't have my size anyway (they don't carry talls or my size of *gasp* 12,) but even if they did, I still wouldn't wear a shirt that says "I'm too pretty to do math," seeing as I'm a feminist, not to mention a math major (and have some gorgeous classmates who prove this shirt is just ridiculous.) 
Urban Outfitters: As if seeing people call them out on their unhealthy marketing schemes every other week wasn't enough, they also source cotton from Ubekistan, where forced labor is a thing. No thanks.
American Apparel: Again, with the objectifying of women thing. So. Not. Cool. And, this is 2015 for crying out loud.

No more:

Bath and Body Works: I was already determined to do this once I discovered Hempz Treats (which smell and moisturize better,) but once I found they were owned by the same company as Victoria's Secret, that pretty much sealed the deal. Besides, Bodycology products smell exactly the same and are much cheaper.
Calvin Klein: First of all, the shirt I got from them is threadbare in only a year after I got it (and was overpriced,) they also used forced labor in Saipan (a US territory, so the clothes say "Made In the USA," without mentioning they're made by slaves. Not cool.)
H&M: Remember the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire you learned about in eighth grade US history? Well, the same kind of thing happened at an H&M factory in Bangladesh a century later. Let's get with the times, H&M!
Forever 21: They source their cotton from Ubekistan. No bueno.

Severely limit:

Gap: (This includes Old Navy, Piperlime, Banana Republic and Athleta as well.) While it's my only source for tall clothes in some situations, I'm going to work on finding alternatives since Gap outsources to Saipan as well.

Wait and see:

Nike: I have gotten some really high quality clothes from Nike and they seem to be making considerable strides in their ethics, so I'm going to give them the benefit of a the doubt for now.

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes:

ASOS: I was actually pleasantly surprised to find not only that there were no complaints against ASOS, but they were also on lists of most ethical companies. Win. (This is will be "substitution" for Forever 21 and H&M in the future.)
Zappos: They treat their workers well and are working on eco-friendly initiatives. I've never seen anything anti-feminist from them and they work with nonprofits to help women and children. And they have shoes in my size.
Torrid: As a plus-size brand (they sell size 12-18 and have tall sizes!), they're a shoo-in for healthy body image, and they do a good job of selling the clothes, not the model, Also, their ethics policy denounces forced and child labor, as well as other unhealthy practices.
J Crew: From what I can tell, they're fans of responsible sourcing and also don't use child or forced labor. They're a bit out of my price range normally, but if I'm looking for investment pieces, I'll check them out first.

This is definitely a work in progress and incomplete, but this is what I have so far. Everything is subject to change. If ASOS starts sourcing cotton from Ubekistan, I won't shop there anymore. Likewise, if Victoria's Secret somehow does a complete turnaround and begins to portray women the way they should be (not happening, I know,) I will happily buy from them. 

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