Why does so much ethical fashion look the same?

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  ysabeaublue 2 weeks, 3 days ago.

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    I saw [this article](https://fashionista.com/2018/10/sustainable-ethical-fashion-clothes-aesthetic-style) today and thought of FFA – the ethical brands that are commonly promoted on here (Eileen Fisher, Elizabeth Suzann, Jamie + the Jones, etc) have a similar boxy, neutral aesthetic. The article discusses how this might be leaving out people who cultures embrace bright color and pattern.

    From the article:

    >That’s not to say people of color always want to wear brights, or that they can’t enjoy wearing neutrals. But Drakeford’s point stands: When the ethical fashion community overlooks the political and historical implications of dressing in a riot of color and pattern in the name of versatility and “timelessness,” it risks alienating a group of people who may use those former elements to connect to their heritage.



    While I agree the above brands do follow a certain aesthetic (although Jamie + the Jones have bright color options if not patterns), there are brands that don’t get mentioned as much on FFA like [Nathalia JMag](https://nathaliajmag.com/collections/madonna), [Little Things Studio](https://www.littlethingstudio.com/collections/dresses), [Chelsea Bravo](https://www.chelseabravo.com/shop), [Doen](https://shopdoen.com/collections/dresses), [Lemlem](https://www.lemlem.com/collections/womens), [Cult Gaia](https://cultgaia.com/collections/clothing), [Mara Hoffman](https://www.marahoffman.com/ready-to-wear/dresses), and [Studio 189](https://www.instagram.com/studiooneeightynine/?hl=en) that break out of the color/pattern aesthetic and/or diversity mould of what some considered to be the typical ethical fashion style. I think it’s important to not only have more range in terms of styles/people represented, but to make sure we’re aware of and spread the word about what else is out there beyond the usual suspects.



    Ethical fashion is more expensive to produce so it would probably be easier to make a profit by sticking to simple designs with fewer pieces and less fabric. That makes them cheaper to produce and quicker to sew. It can also be harder to get a strong color from a sustainable earth friendly dye.

    It was always my dream to design ethical and sustainable fashion in bright colors using vegetable dyes but in this day and age it’ll probably never happen for me. But maybe someone else will!



    This doesn’t answer the article’s query outright, but anyone interested in ethical fashion that comes in more interesting colors, shapes, and patterns should check out [Mata Traders.](https://www.matatraders.com/) The quality isn’t *mindblowing* but it’s better than fast fashion and is visually far from neutral and shapeless.



    I would argue that there are ethical fashion companies with a different aesthetic out there.
    I think you just have to look at smaller businesses, for instance [Tuesday Bassen](https://www.shoptuesday.com/collections/everything) places an emphasis on the ethical treatment of workers, manufactures almost all its products (with a few exceptions) in L.A., and repurposes dead stock and vintage materials to lessen its consumer footprint.
    If you [look at](https://www.aouiclothing.com/collections/all) companies [that focus](https://frontdemode.com/en/) on [recycling fabric](https://www.thereformation.com/categories/shop), versus [creating new](https://tonle.com/collections/new), there [are very](https://christydawn.com/collections/dresses) different [looks out](https://needsupply.com/womens/brands/jesse-kamm) there. (but if you really look, there are [ethical companies](https://us.kowtowclothing.com/collections/all) with [patterns and brights](https://www.peopletree.co.uk/women) that[ create new](https://shainamote.com/collections/new-arrivals) as well!)



    Wow, that turned into a shitshow. I just came here to say that Australians should check out https://wellmadeclothes.com.au/. Yes there are some linen sacks going around but there are also [serious jackets](https://wellmadeclothes.com.au/stella-blazer-luis-check), [colourful velour tshirts](https://wellmadeclothes.com.au/omo-tee-luteal-peach) for some reason, many [cuts of jeans](https://wellmadeclothes.com.au/shop/clothing/jeans), and [these beautiful prints](https://wellmadeclothes.com.au/designers/annie-hamilton).

    But I definitely agree there is a weird blend of ethics and a particular aesthetic sometimes. Like WMC keep sending me emails about Tevas and I’m like…. no. I feel like part of it comes from small scale designers thinking “I’m divorcing myself from the trend cycle and starting a brand based on… uh…. I guess I’ll start with what I want to wear” and that turns out to be linen easy pants – which no doubt are the shit if you work in a creative industry and a casual environment.

    Edit: reflecting on my other comment in the thread, I think I’m showing the same lack of imagination here about what constitutes buying more ethically, by only mentioning a store that has ethics as its main point of difference. There is so much other stuff going on (that isn’t linen and oatmeal). For example Cue have a decent range of clothes that are made in Australia (and clearly label them on their website). I’d recommend getting the Good On You app for anyone who’s interested in this stuff. It’s great for browsing somewhere like the Iconic, or a department store, and checking individual brands according to what matters to you.



    In addition to what the article says, I wonder if the clothes looking more “natural” is a factor. Brands that sell themselves on being eco friendly will often use natural colors on their logos and packaging. I bet if you show someone a picture of an ethically made shapeless beige dress and an ethically made colorful patterned one, people would see the first as more ethical and natural.



    I think the Reformation and Amour Vert have some nice styles that are a bit different from the norm.

    That said, I’d like to buy into ethical fashion and I don’t even mind that the styles look the same. Sometimes I just want a quality basic that is ethically source, is of decent quality, and will last me a long time. But most ethical/sustainable brands are small and offer less styles and sizes. Even if a like a style, the item never fits anyways.

    Instead of buying from ethical brands, I’m trying to be sustainable by “shopping” my own closet, building a wardrobe with good-quality pieces that will last me a long time, and buying second hand and altering them at home. In the end, shopping from an ethical brand is still shopping. It’s not to say I will never shop for new stuff. It just means I will do less of it.



    I miss American Apparel doing the exact opposite–crazy colors, lots of form-fitting items, some really “out there” cuts. They definitely had some things that could be considered to be boxy/neutral but they had an overall very large range for a made in American company.



    For people that wants colors, I can recommend https://www.gudrunsjoden.com.



    I’m not really a pattern person or a colour person but yeah every time I find an ethical fashion label I’m always disappointed. It’s basically a boxy sleeveless top, a boxy tshirt, a baggy long sleeve top, a baggy jersey, wide leg pants, shapeless midi skirt and three dresses that all look like sacks. Can I have a fitting top please? Can I have a pencil skirt or an a-line skirt or a skater skirt? Can you please just make something that doesn’t look like a sack so I can support your ethical brand? I’m already pretty square so I don’t really like big baggy boxy things on my body. Like, even if none of them make ‘interesting’ or colourful clothes (from my POV) can they just make some more fitting basics I can pair with my interesting thrift shop finds?

    I’d never even considered that others might find the lack of colour and pattern exclusionary, but I certainly agree they all look similar.



    Because it’s just a trend and nothing else.

    For a while, before FFA told me it was *timeless ethical capsule* wardrobe I called this look, cult leader vibes and wore it myself because I wanted to wear breezy pajamas due to me living in hot ass Texas but in an old money neighborhood. But it really does seem like the sort of thing I’d imagine a certain type of cult might wear.

    My aunt is a rich old lady and she bought this boxy white linen two piece outfit and she legit looked like the kogi: http://www.tribalink.org/kogi/thekogi.htm



    The number of people who will pay $100+ for an ethically made, basic black shirt is probably higher than those who would pay the same for a bright yellow shirt with teal polka dots.

    From the consumer’s perspective, the black basic is going to get more wear and will last more seasons, so they can justify paying more for it.

    From the retailer’s perspective, they have more opportunities for sales in neutral colors, so that’s what they tend to stick to.

    It’s the same reason overcoats tend to come in black, grey, navy, and camel. An overcoat an expensive garment that needs to last, so people are choosing neutrals. If you want lime green or fuchsia, you’ll have fewer options.

    Also, patterns and colors tend to go in and out of style quickly. (Like millennial pink, which had a moment and now already seems dated.) If the retailers and consumers are trying to be ethical, they are probably veering away from fast fashion and this quick churn of the fashion cycle.



    Honestly, this is a large part of why I don’t buy from these brands (price is another, but if I’m spending that much I’d better damn well love it). My coloring just needs bright colors. I’m a clear winter and if I wear ivory / blush / taupe I look like death warmed over. Simple as that, really. I’m a white lady so I’m not trying to tap into any culture roots, but I just need to not look like I’m working on my fifth week of Spanish flu and I’m certainly not spending a premium price to look like I’m dying.



    Well, they cherry-picked one stratum of ethical fashion and argued that this stratum has a particular look. Product development, anyone?

    These brands target a particular customer and their decision of which customer to target (I’m just guessing here – I don’t know this intimately) is based on price and on the niche they’re trying to exploit. Apparently women who value ethical fashion enough to pay that price (but not a higher price) tend to want boxy officewear (and also tend to not come from cultures that “connect to their heritage” or whatever by wearing other types of clothing). This stuff is targeted at western upper middle class professional women, like Wholefoods. Who’s surprised?

    Actually, there’s lots of sustainable brands out there that don’t look like that and don’t cater to this demographic (which is one and the same). If you do a search of the sub, you might actually come across a topic discussing how all sustainable clothing seems to be boho yoga stuff. There are also upscale brands that do sustainable production practices, and those are more “designed”. On the opposite end of that spectrum, some of the developing world gets their clothing from “sustainable brands” as in from production techniques that haven’t changed in n hundred years.

    So I think our knowledge of ethical fashion should change, not ethical fashion.

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