How to buy clothing ethically

How to buy clothing ethically

I wrote in a previous post about why I stopped buying clothing in response to the conditions of my Nicaraguan friends who work in factories and the prevalence of slavery and exploitation in the clothing industry.

The Norwegian documentary “Deadly Fashion” helps put things in perspective.

After over a year without purchasing, I entered the workforce and realized I was going to have to buy some clothes.

But I didn’t want to be unethical or expensive about it.

Ways to buy clothing ethically:

Buy online

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After some searching, I found a site called Synergy Clothing, an organic clothing line made by artisans in Nepal. The clothes were cute and decently priced for fair trade. It wasn’t the same as the Forever 21 T-shirt for $5, but I  believe it pays to purchase something of higher quality, that is ethically-made and will last longer than fast fashion.

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From the Synergy Clothing 2016 catalog

Thrift shop and clothing swap

Next, I decided to go thrift shopping. Secondhand clothing is a great option for buying cheaply and ethically. I went to consignment stores like Plato’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange. They had a selection of clothing in good condition, and I found dress pants and a few nice shirts for work. In Austin, where I live, we had a citywide clothing swap hosted by a local business. Residents brought their lightly-used, unwanted clothing to the store, dropped it off and paid $5. We were then allowed to take as many clothing items as we wanted. I found seven key pieces I could add to my wardrobe.


Borrow from friends

Finally, I asked friends if they had any clothing they didn’t want. My best friend Terin had several shirts she never wore that she gave me. My best friend Lav also wanted to get rid of one of her shirts. My Austrian friend Stefanie gave me a black cardigan I wear almost every day.


Friends are a great resource for sharing and swapping clothing.

Splurge on fair trade

I did splurge on a dress at a small store in downtown Johnson City. The dress was priced at $35 but was 15 percent off. It was made in India by an organization called Sacred Threads, who help people receive eye care.


Overall, I spent less than $70 on a new wardrobe while not violating the moral decision I’d made to not buy fast fashion. It took a little more effort, it was worth it.

Find out how many slaves work for you by taking this interactive quiz.



6 thoughts on “How to buy clothing ethically

  1. Thank you so much for sharing the video at the top – I haven’t seen it before. I like to make my own clothing too out of thrift store pieces by amending or cutting out the fabrics for reuse.

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