Ethical Shopping Update [GUEST POST]

November 04, 2016

Y'all know I enjoy shopping, and tracking my expenditure through the #AlmostPoshStyleCost project has been most enlightening.

sewing items | Almost Posh

Back in May, I featured a guest post; Signature Style Without the Guilt, from Dr Jennifer de Livera, an actual scientist and ethical fashionista that referenced the Baptist World Aid Fashion Report. After reading Jen's post, I decided to commit to only buying from brands that came in at a "C" grade or above.

Doesn't sound that challenging, does it? But when you consider that my former go-to fast fashion outlets like TEMT and Valleygirl (now owned by Fast Future Brands) and Best & Less were suddenly off-limits, it did mean a significant shift in my shopping landscape.

I'm pleased to report that I haven't even really entered one of the above stores since making that commitment and to be honest, I haven't really missed it.

The Fashion Report has been updated for 2016 and Jen returns to give us an update.


Hi there, you might not remember but I’ve been here before, I guest posted earlier in the year about the guilt that can come with shopping for clothes, because of the sweatshops. It was heavy stuff, and I am sort of surprised I was invited back, so thanks, Beth!

But hey, it wasn’t all doom and gloom! We took a close look at the cost of basic items vs company ethics and decided there was no relationship (we don’t have to be rich to make better choices, hooray!), and we went through some guilt minimisation strategies (trying preloved, avoiding known baddies) so that we can get on with life and maybe make some better purchase decisions in the process.

So six months down the track, let’s check in.

Now I definitely can’t claim to be doing a perfect job of making ethical choices when it comes to new clothing purchases, but I feel confident in saying I’ve been making what I consider to be better choices. I’ve got a few ideas about how to actually do this too, and I’m willing to share.


Full disclosure - it’s 65 pages, but you probably don’t need to read it all. HINT: On page 6 there is a neat summary table that grades most brands that you have access to in Australia, from A to F. Look, it’s totally not that scary:

Australian Fashion Report grades | Almost Posh

 And before you say, what are all these random brands I’ve never heard of … there’s a decoder on the back pages that breaks down the parent companies into the actual shops you might shop at (e.g. Cotton On Group = Cotton On, Rubi, Factorie and others).

Checking these scores has really challenged my perceptions. I still can’t get over the fact that Cotton On rates better than Cue, or that a company like Zara, who is pretty much the Coca-Cola of the fashion world, can be sitting pretty on an A grade. I have been trying to stick to purchasing from companies rated B or better, which doesn’t feel particularly onerous as there are quite a lot in that category. I don’t feel the need to be extreme about it, so I have cut myself some slack on occasion when say I am after something specific and I just can’t find what I want in a preferred brand.

So look up your faves and see where they fit. If you’re not comfortable with the grade they’ve been given take a look at what better-rated brands you might be able to choose instead.


So how does one actually remember what brands you decided to avoid and what brands you want to shift to? I started using bookmarks to do this, I set up a list for clothing stores that I like that are acceptable to me ethics-wise. Then when I feel like shopping for something, I go in and check the bookmarked stores as a first port of call. You could choose brands to bookmark based on their ratings in the 2016 Aussie Fashion Report, you could do your own research, or check out websites like shop ethical.

Of course, if you're trying to minimise your purchasing altogether, it might be a good time to unsubscribe from brand emails and think of something else to do on your lunch breaks if you work in a shopping-friendly location!


But what about when you’re at the actual shops, you say? I downloaded the Good On You app^^ which I refer to if I’m caught out and about. It’s free and easy to use – just type in a store of interest and you’ll get a rating out of five. This app is also really handy if you are after something specific, as you can browse by category where you’ll find ratings for brands that sell everything from hosiery to outerwear.


Maybe this is obvious, but Pinterest seems like a really good tool for avoiding impulse buying. Anytime I feel like I need or want something new, I do some online browsing and chuck a few things on a Pinterest board. It seems to provide gratification without the commitment, giving time to weigh up the brand ratings of different options before buying.


Sometimes when you see something cute and start feeling impulsey it’s easy to forget that there are actually other options to buying new gear! An easy and cheap way to not be supporting sweatshops is simply to hit up the likes of etsy, eBay, Gumtree or your local op shop for preloved goods, repairing stuff you already have or even simply buying less stuff in the first place.

There are some great infographics out there along these lines. I like to keep a few pinned to the same board where I put potential new acquisitions to help prompt me to think outside the square rather than just buying new stuff without thinking. Here’s a couple of examples:

Shopping ethically infographic from | Almost Posh
[image credit:]
Just quietly, I think the dead end at ‘no’ after ‘do I really need it’ is a bit rough! If you want to have any fun at all, I would be interpreting ‘need’ in an outfit-making sense, not in a basic human rights sense!
ethical shopping infographic from | AlmostPosh
[image credit:]

Another option for the brave is to look for potential in your own wardrobe – is there anything unloved that could do with a new lease of life? Lacklustre shoes could suddenly become appealing again with a comfy insert, polish and/or resoling. Shortening or letting down hems can totally change the look of dresses or skirts and make them feel new again. I have mates who staple or use tape so you don’t necessarily even need sewing skills, or if you’re fancy see a tailor. And if you’re willing to risk ruining everything, you could even try turning things into other things - over the years I’ve done some random projects, such as retrofitting lining to a flimsy trench coat, turning a double breasted coat into a single breasted style, turning dresses into skirts and/or tops, creating purses and clutches out of fabric scraps, and using worn out scarves to wrap around equally worn out bag handles.

Do any of these ideas speak to you ? Anyone got any other tips ?


^^rating system is different to Ethical Fashion Guide - covers environment, labour rights and animal protection too.

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