You've booked your flight, offset your carbon miles, reserved a room in your eco resort and now all that's left is to pack your bags. To help you, I've found 21 of the most covetable ethical fashion sites to help you plan your packing. Some of these brands work explicitly to empower others and to give back; others help the environment through the use of innovative fabrics or local sourcing; some, such as the vintage re-sellers, wouldn't necessarily call themselves 'sustainable', but nonetheless have a positive impact by reducing clothing waste through re-use. The one thing they all have in common is that they are all part of the antitode to mindless consumerism. The majority of the world's garment workers are trapped in a cycle of poverty because their wages are too low for them to live on. The textile industry is the second most polluting after the oil industry. The solution isn't to stop purchasing - trade is a powerful way for developing countries to lift living standards and shift people out of poverty. The solution is to ensure that what we buy doesn't come at the expense of another person or the environment.
We all have the power to make a positive difference in the lives of others and the places we live. We should not waste it. Consume Consciously.
Supermodel Liya Kebede’s stunning stripes come to life in artisan hand-woven cottons that empower women in her native Ethiopia. Lemlem has now expanded their production to empower women in Kenya, Rwanda and Madagascar.
Pick: The Dalila Mini Dress in Black and White
Cassie's eponymously named label is a confection of hand woven silks and hand blocked cottons. All made in ethically run studios in Phnom Penh, Cassie makes runs to order, so there is no wastage. Conscious fashion made with love and style.
Pick: The Malita Kaftan in black and white shibori print silk, made in Cambodia
A destination, not a label, Shop Latitude is a carefully curated site of beautiful, artisan made goods collected from around the globe. It's worth popping in for a voyeuristic visit even if you aren't travelling.
Pick: Miss Mochila Blue Diamond Cotton tote made in Colombia
It was a Peruvian crocheted striped caftan with pink, green and yellow tassled hem that caught my eye first. A Peace Treaty is New York based, but work with artisan groups across 10 countries to preserve traditional crafts. They create caftans, twinset loungewear and scarves that are as unique as they are lovely.
Pick: Imoa silk/cotton black dress, handmade in India
Ferragamo goes fruity, with sustainably produced fabric made from what's left of an orange after its been squeezed. Delicious!
Amur stands for 'A Mindful Use of Resources', which describes the New York brand's mission. Combining sophistication with eco-luxe, Amur's fabrics are sourced with an eye to environmental goodness. These are pieces you'll pack for when you're relaxing in a cocktail lounge; apres sunlounge.
Pick: Ruffled, embroidered Ida skirt with recycled polyester lining
Made from recycled plastic. Check. Reversible. Check. Sourced from factories that care about their workers. You bet. Donate money to charities that support girls education and environmental causes. Of course! What are you waiting for?! Baiia is beautiful, inside and out.
Pick: Sayulita Reversible Pink/Red Bikini
Vitamin A is California laid back swimsuit brand with a beach chick vibe. Swimsuits are made with EcoLux fabric - a technically and environmentally superior fabric made from recycled nylon. Towels are made by Turkish artisans.
Pick: Marakesh Beach Towel, handloomed by Turkish artisans.
Nosouj is the Arabic word for handweaving and Nasouj 'nosoujes' remnant fabrics to transform them into stunning artisanal luxury bags.
Pick: Monochrome Hannah PomPom Clutch
10. My Putchi
Gorgeous patterned South American straw hats made in traditional styles with pompom embellishments, My Putchi warms my soul. Not only because the hats are simply beautiful, but because 20% of the profits go back into projects to support women in Venezuela.
Pick: Toushin Hat with Blue PomPoms
11. Bloom and Give
Bloom and Give give more than most. Fully 50% of their profits go to support girls education in developing countries. Their light-as-feathers cashmere and cotton shawls are so completely delicious that you'd want them for inflight even if they weren't brightening the lives of so many little girls.
Pick: Nola woollen scarf in crimson
12. Pala Sunglasses
Here's how an ethical sunglasses business works: 1.You buy a pair of sunglasses. 2. Your purchase goes to eye care projects in Africa that fund the creation of vision centres. 3. The vision centres give away new eye glasses for those who need them. And as simple as 1, 2, 3, you've helped to be part of an awesome value chain!
Pick: Zola Pink Marble Sunnies
Their mission statement reads: 'a new style culture where every purchase has a purpose,' which is why you should choose Accompany to accompany you on your sustainable vacation.
Pick: Pink, gold and white Rombo Embera earrings handcrafted in Colombia
Caravana calls itself an Australian lifestyle brand, but it's far more than that. It's a changing lives brand through its commitment to sourcing carefully crafted, ethically produced products from around the globe and giving income earning opportunities to communities that otherwise wouldn't have them.
Pick: Benson Zip Wallet in Emerald
Once upon a time, upcycling was when you would send your old toilet rolls to pre-school so your baby could stick pipecleaners and fuzzy dots on them and turn them into something resembling people. Looptworks takes upcycling sky high; literally. Using discarded leather airline seats from Air Alaska, they transform them into totally covetable travel bags. Want. Love. Need.
Pick: Carry On Weekender Duffel Bag
No ethical fashion listicle would be complete without mentioning one of the greatest influencers of all. TOMS is the iconic shoes brand that pioneered 'buy one, give one'. And now they've expanded into sunglasses and bags too! Hot reading tip: pack the autobiography of TOMS founder, Blake Mycoskie, 'Start Something That Matters' for an inspiring holiday read.
Pick: TOMS White Asparagus Leather Fringe Women's Lexie Sandals
Because they are handmade in Capri by artisan shoemakers, using Italian sourced leather and embellishments. Because Jackie O wore them. Enough said.
Pick: The Jacqueline Gold Chain Flat Sandal (of course).
Cheap fast fashion is fun for a minute or five, but horrible for the environment. When a garment costs the same as a cup of coffee, and we know it won't hold together much longer than it takes to drink the coffee, we don't think twice about chucking it away when we’re sick of it. The accessibility of disposable fashion has meant that clothing waste is the fastest growing household waste in Australia. Those heaving mountains of discarded clothes sit in putrefying landfills where they emit methane, a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions. By contrast, when you buy clothes that are of high quality, you're at least likely to find them a happy new owner when you're Marie Kondo-ing your wardrobe.
Here are some of my fave 'circular fashion' finds across the web:
19. Zest Vintage
Zest Vintage (an Etsy shop based in Seattle Washington) is a beautifully curated collection of pieces from the 1940s through 1980s. The owner has 20 years experience in the textile and fashion business and it shows in the colours and the styles she selects.
Pick: Hand made 1950s Norwegian jacket in a biscuit coloured wool with embroidered stripes.
Julia’s Dressing, on 1st Dibs is chock full of Saint Laurent from before they dropped the Yves (someone will still have to explain that marketing decision to me). Ok so you could buy 313 $5 t-shirts for the same cost as a YSL vintage safari tunic ($1565 - gulp), but if you consider it takes 2700 litres of water to make just 1 t-shirt, you can possibly justify it on the enviro savings.
Pick: YSL Safari Tunic
21. Modern and Moore
Modern and Moore, in Atlanta Georgia, specialise in vintage from the 50s through the 80s. It's all fun and fab!
Pick: Gold trimmed black caftan lounge dress