Tag Archives: ethical clothing

Are Used Clothes Ethical & Sustainable Clothes?

Buy used clothing? Is it ethical clothing?

Buy used clothing? Is it ethical clothing?

I talk with people who both buy and sell used clothes a lot and often discuss the role of preloved clothing in conscious and ethical consumerism. Quite often people tell me that they feel used clothes are ethical & sustainable by their nature. Here is why I think this is both true and false.

First, let’s deal with ethics and sustainability issues separately because there are a couple of differing factors at play.

 Buying Used Clothing is on Balance more Sustainable than New Clothing

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Is Your Ethical Shopping Really Ethical & Sustainable? 5 Questions You Can Ask to Check

Ethical Shopping Questions

How to Ask Where you Clothes Come From

We do ethical shopping and look to buy sustainable products for any number of reasons: going green, doing our part for the environment, protecting ourselves and our family from harsh chemicals, concern for the treatment of women and children in clothing factories. And people want to be part of the sustainable fashion movement in particular for some or all of these reasons. The people who make and market clothes also recognise the growing value of offering products that meet these needs. Some clothing businesses are honestly & genuinely committed to delivering some or all of the solutions we need to fix the fashion industry (even if they are not 100% there yet). However, others well they just recognise a niche market and are going for your jugular.

So how to tell the difference between REAL ethical and sustainable clothing and greenwash? Continue Reading →

Fixing Fashion: A Framework to Make Sustainable Fashion the Industry Standard

Sustainable Fashion As the Industry Standard needs Action on All Levels

Sustainable Fashion: It Needs Action on All Levels

Often I am part of discussions on the best way to ‘fix fashion’. How do we move such a massive industry from the unethical, environment destroying beast that it is, to one in which sustainable fashion is just the industry standard? You know the drill – clean and clever and kind business.

People feel quite strongly that their own area of expertise offers THE best solution. This is an enduring reality of any specialty area, and why evidenced based decision making was introduced into medicine & healthcare in the 1970’s (more on how this relates later).  Recently questions have been raised about the actual impact of hashtag activism (notably #whomademyclothes). While the development of sustainable fashion brands and the rise of ethical consumerism have been critiqued (and counter critiqued) as an approach that will not work because it fails to address the complex global politics that are involved in making the industry what it is. Continue Reading →

21 Ethical Fashion Brands for Cool Women (Who are also Parents)

and maybe a few more too...

and maybe a few more too…

You know I am not a big fan (understatement of the year) of the use of the word mother as a modifying descriptor – the word mumtrepreneur is actually my pet peeve of the decade (after hair on soap that is). Basically where being a parent has no bearing on the topic why mention it? However, where clothing is concerned joining the cult of parenthood does actually change or at least influence clothing needs, so I want to talk about ethical fashion and ethical fashion brands for women who also happen to be parents (and those who are not too!).

I started muka kids (which includes a marketplace to trade pre-loved ethical kids clothing) because I believe that ethical fashion & sustainable clothing could be more accessible and more connected to the women whose lives it is meant to improve . Kid’s clothes seemed a good place to start because the turnover rate is pretty high. However, I also wear clothes and care about the people who grow the cotton, weave the fibre, dye the fabric, cut and sew the cloth as well as the environment this processing all happens in. So finding ethical clothing & ethical fashion designers that met both my personal style AND life style with kids is important.

Let Start with “What is Ethical Fashion?”

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A Mad World, A Revelation & A Choice

I promise this (might) all make sense

I promise this (might) all make sense

The title of this blog is a little like the song ‘So Long and Thanks for all the Fish”, makes NO sense at all if you have not read a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and only marginally more if you have read it. So read on and perhaps you will feel marginally less confused by the end (no promises though, but questions welcome).

The Madness

I have always thought (at some times more than others) that it is a mad world that engenders a little bit (or a lot) of crazy in us all, but that assuming your world is more mad than the person’s next to you on the bus/at work/in a parent group is a dangerous path to go down, because chances are it totally is NOT. However, I always believed that (mostly) my world is maddest for me, while yours is maddest for you.

So, on that note I think it is always good to know that the people who start businesses, want to change the world, do social enterprise and post random stuff on social media to increase the following of said social enterprise are a little mad, just like you.

I, I am quite comfortable saying, am going through a little bit of crazy. We moved house (WHY on earth anyone would do this with small children is beyond me, but needless to say I am now looking for a community support group of fellow ”post movers with children and too many unpacked boxes in their houses”). I started new and fabulous permanent work (because social enterprise and good intentions, alas like clouds, cannot be eaten), which feels great AND draining. Oh and cancer came to our family. I tell you this not  to explain the madness, or garner sympathy, but because I want to emphasis the very human and shared experience that, stress, big change, and serious illness is. That it makes us all a little mad, but hopefully a little more human too.

So muka kids had retreated a little for me, then came back again, both because it keeps me focused on the big stuff that matters in our mad world, and because, well I guess as Leonard Cohen says “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

 

The Revelation

So, I started thinking about how to make muka kids happen on a smaller but active scale for everyone (including me),  until I can build a bigger trading platform for pre-loved ethical and sustainable clothing . What I have come up with is moving muka kids into an active facebook group. One our community can start to trade our ethical and sustainable clothes between ourselves. At this end we will work with the Accredited Brands (here are some that we will approach first up) to get muka ‘ReGooders” (you the group members) rewards for trading on the group page, and each month there will be a  feature on a women entrepreneur in the developing world, who needs a microloan, which members can choose to support if they are so inclined. For this particular aspect we will initially work with existing and trusted organisations like Kiva and Global Sisters, until we can establish a long term relationship with our cotton farming groups in India.

The Choice

So here is the question, what to call this new group? Just stick with muka kids? Or perhaps be more focused on the sustainable wardrobe aspect, something like ”muka sustainable wardrobe”? Love to hear your thoughts on what would bring people in. Remember, this is not just for those people who are already converts to the sustainable clothing movement, but also uninitiated people just wanting to buy better quality, cooler clothes that happen to be sustainable & ethical for their kids (and eventually themselves too – as we include adult clothing). So comment below, or post on Facebook and let me know your thoughts…

Want to be actively involved in the community from here or afar?

If you would like to be more involved than just buying or selling, the new group will need administrators, so any help I can get to move this community along from good thoughts to good deeds, would be warmly and enthusiastically embraced (if a little madly!). Just email (info@mukakids.com), FB message etc etc.

Happily, madly yours

Jess

 

20 Ethical Clothing & Organic Clothing Brands for Kids We LOVE

Ethical clothes for kids we love

Ethical clothes for kids we love

We know it is hard sometimes to get hold of ethical clothing & organic clothing for kids. You mean well, intend well and then? Well the practicalities just get in the way of doing well. Muka kids is a social enterprise that exists to make it a lot easier to get hold of fantastic affordable ethical clothing & organic clothing for kids. One way we help is we have a marketplace for buying & selling accredited pre-loved (and some new) ethical and organic clothing. In this blog we want to tell you about the best of these accredited brands. Some of these brands actually offer discounts to those who trade on muka kids. So if you buy ethical sustainable clothes new &  ‘Regood’ them on our marketplace we reward you for being sustainable and well just super.

Ethical clothing all starts with some great small companies

In the muka model it all starts with those fantastic people pushing the boat out in small and independent ethical clothing and organic clothing brands, doing their darnedest to do the right thing and make clothes that meet ethical and sustainable standards. It is HARD: a hard slog, lower returns, with a small (but growing market) of customers.

These ethical clothing companies and the people who run them care. They care deeply about changing the way the clothing system works, and while all of them might not have the gold standard for ethical clothing or organic clothing in place right now, I tell you they are striving to do things a better way AND make sure they have a successful ethical business so they can keep making a difference.

Ethical Clothing Brands & Organic Clothing Brands We LOVE* (many of which you can find on our marketplace in affordable preloved condtion)

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Why are ethical kids clothes so expensive?

Why are most kids clothes that you buy so costly and especially ethical kids clothes?

Well a lot of it is to do with the way they are made. Lets start with standard kids clothing. There are A LOT of stages in the long journey from a cotton seed to garment (most kids clothing is made of cotton or cotton mix) and for every step in that journey there is a cost. Here is a pictogram neatly summarizing all the steps in how cotton clothing gets made. Needless to say it is long, with lots of people involved and lots of processing. It is kind of interesting in a ‘how stuff works’ way.

Anyway, what exactly are all these costs and at what points in the chain do they apply? The following infographic sums up the costs nicely….

 

 non ethical kids clothes are costly is many ways

costly huh?

So, at every step there are some serious costs in production. Costs borne mainly by women, by children and by the environment.

So I know you get that I am being ironic to make a point, and that I am kind of beating you over the head with my lack of subtlety. I cannot disagree. But for all my lack of subtlety the point is, I think, an important one. We often talk about the cost of kids clothes (standard AND ethical kids clothes), only in relation to our immediate cash flow, what is in our bank account at the time we are needing to re-dress whatever particular child has worn a hole, grown 2cm, or beaten a piece of clothing into submission. Continue Reading →

Our New Kid

As we get closer to launching (incrementally!), I have focussed a little more on what ‘muka kids’ is all about and how to best convey that in the imagery. With a bit of thinking what I knew was missing from our current design was the ‘quirk factor’. muka kids is all about stepping outside of the way we currently do things in kids clothing.

It is a new model of making and using kids clothing that is kinder, more sustainable, innovative and just happier. Drawing heavily on how clothes were made,bought and used 20, 30, 50 years ago, but looking firmly to the innovation need for the future. The clothes themselves are all about celebrating how kids really live their lives, the vibrancy they bring to world, and the totally unique way they have of being in the world around them (no stereotypes or mini adults here). So what was needed was something that told this story: retro quirky fun.

When you bootstrap a social enterprise you get pretty good at turning your hand to many things (not always with great success I add) and while I am like a pig in muck with design I do draw the line at coding and pattern making.

So I read a heap of kids books looking closely at what elements of kids illustrations work really well..

 

Lost & Found by Oliver Jeffers. SUCH beautiful images

Lost & Found by Oliver Jeffers. SUCH beautiful images

I risked giving the ever willing child a large stick and took lots of photos…

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Sixteen Easy Steps to Insanity By ‘A Parent’

Buying the good way is sometimes the hard way

Let me introduce you to my own private hell – buying ethical clothes for my kids. It goes like this.I look one day at one of my children’s outfits. I notice that suddenly the ankles are nearer the knees, the cuffs nearer to elbows, there is a hole in the bum of the pants, and the child is walking like a small monkey because the top is so tight across the back. Cue hysteria. I will need to get new clothes. And the 16 easy steps to my insanity go like this…

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Top 18 Organic & Ethical Mens Clothing Brands

Men Care. Really.

Men Care. Really.

Being married to a bloke (partner in crime – mainly ones that embarrass the kids), having a brother (Uncle extraordinaire), a brother in law (supreme wrangler of twins ) and oh you know I talk to some man folk occasionally about thoughts and feelings and stuff too … I  get that they also care about ethics and the environment (shock horror) and give a rats about who make their clothes (Gasp). But weirdly often men go unconsidered when discussing sustainability, ethics and clothing. So I thought it was about time they felt the love and got their own guide on the top organic and ethical mens clothing brands.

I will admit that it is a little bit painful in our house when the man (yep he is the only one – given the cat is neutered) requires new underwear and t-shirts. Organic mens clothing is a stretch and ethical menswear is just a total faff to find. There is a lot of internet window shopping, deep sighs (from him), and hissed intakes of breath (me). Eventually I hop on line buy something on behalf and don’t you know it the undies go up your bum (or whatever the male equivalent to that is). Unsatisfactory to say the least.

So let not my pain be your pain and if you have a bloke or indeed are a bloke and you are looking for ethical mens clothing options let my (and my beloveds) research guide you  (and yes your ethical menswear and organic clothing will be able to be traded on our muka market place for preloved (and some new) ethical and organic clothing).

Note that the brands here are not ALL certified fair trade or organic menswear (there is just not all that many options out there at the gold standard) but all are in some way  making inroads to a more ethical mens fashion industry and indeed more sustainable clothing industry.*

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