How can I tell if a brand is ethical or uses organic materials?
“GOTS certification is really great to look for. Fair trade is also really good. I wish there was an easy answer for that question.
You need to do your research and you really need to know. I rarely say “we are sustainable” because at the end of the day we’re really using resources of the planet. What we’re doing isn’t like “helping the planet in itself” but it’s much better than whatever else is out there.
When people are like “oh this is like so green and so sustainable” I’m like a bit suspicious about it. I dislike when brands mislead, you have to kind of know a bit yourself. I think one of the best things you can do is research fibre. Knowing what fibre is sustainable.
For e.g., this is largely debunked, but a lot of people think bamboo is a sustainable fibre. And bamboo itself is a growing plant, fantastically sustainable, it grows crazy without chemicals and limited water. But when you cut it up and process it, it’s the processing that’s not great. It uses a really heavy chemical process, but a lot of people forget about that. But it’s not sustainable. There is actually no trace of bamboo in bamboo fabric in the end. Unless you use bamboo linen, which is bamboo beaten up into fibres and processed into a yarn without any chemical process. It’s done manually without any chemical process and is labour intensive and hard to find.
Most bamboo that you find is bamboo viscous. They take the bamboo, pulp it and then put it in a chemical bath. It’s turned in to a sludge. The sludge is pushed through a spinneroutte, and then put into a bath of acid and turned in to a fibre essentially.
And stuff like that is really hard for someone to know….. and if you knew about the bamboo process and you saw a company marketing it as sustainable you would know it’s not right. So, having fibre knowledge would help.
You know “Good on you” the app, I think it’s a really great start for people who don’t know where to start. I think they are very rigorous in how they check for what a brand is doing. I think it’s a great place to start. I still think that you can do a lot of your own research as well – not just taking one weird article for gospel, but rather researching. I think that someone reads an article “organic cotton takes more water than normal cotton”, they think it’s it right etc. It all takes a bit of time and effort unfortunately.
You can say that “ok cool, that fast fashion brand is doing something good and it’s better than nothing”. But in my opinion, fast fashion and sustainability are not compatible, as they are based on mass consumption. And the whole system is floored, if we keep on going at the rate then we are going to run out of natural resources.
I don’t think the big turnover companies are able to be ethical or environmentally friendly. I don’t think that’s possible. I wouldn’t shop there personally. I would look for smaller to mid size businesses that are able to fulfil that promise, and not just greenwash or use it as a way to make more sales.”
What are your tips for a sustainable/ethical wardrobe?
“There are lots of different ways to have a sustainable wardrobe, but a good start is to take a look at your wardrobe and look at the items you already have. It might mean its time for a clean and a cull, but keeping the things you really love and have formed a bond with. You might be able to keep as it is or re invent it in the future.
When shopping for new stuff, buying from local labels and researching their ethics and standards before purchasing. Keeping local helps to support the Australian industry and helps local labels to become bigger and better in terms of ethical manufacturing and sustainability.
Reinventing and remaking your existing or thrifted garments, and turning it into something else or something new with a quick DIY. If you aren’t a good seamstress, you can keep your wardrobe fresh by finding cool garments at the thrift store – it’s a bit harder now days to find those standout pieces because of all the crap there. But there is always something there.
Knowing about fibres and looking at labels and decipher them. Don’t just look at the brand as a whole, be knowledgeable about the fabrics they use. Its easy to be tricked by the brands “feel”.
Using Good on You app to research ethical brands.
Keeping in mind the idea of having a capsule wardrobe, keeping it streamlined and classic. Easy to move from season to season. An ideal wardrobe is about 30 pieces or less, that can be worn over and over again. Even transformed to be worn in different ways.
Having a capsual warrobe helps with the “what to wear” decision in the mornings. That “oh my gosh, I have nothing to wear” delima. You can actually be a bit more clear minded about what you are going to wear for the day as you have less choice and aren’t overwhelmed.”
What do you have planned for the future of A.BCH?
“We are working on new products all the time. Focusing on building our customer base in Australia. Hoping to vertically intergrate the business so we are sewing everything in house and keep tabs on every aspect of the business. Finally, the plan is to expand to the US and have a US headquarters and then we can reach the rest of the world.”
Can you recommend some more ethical/sustainable brands?
Kowtow – NZ brand Organic cotton/fair trade. Made in India, fair trade certified. Supporting the fair trade cooperative
Nudie – Melbourne based. Organic cotton. Developing Eco friendly dyes. Good sense of sustainability
Elizabeth Sussan – make everything to order. Conscious of firesrs and use hemp. Wearble for women in different shapes and sizes.
Zady – American brand. Detailed in research. All ethical growth to production is legit. Basics. Good ethos and research.
Thank you, Courtney, for your time and sharing all your knowledge with me and my readers.
I really appreciate it and I can’t wait to see A.BCH grow!