How to confirm your fashion is ethical

[What I had for breakfast today: rice, an egg, roast chicken, pickled mustard greens and kimchi--thank goodness for Adam's pickling prowess!]

Remember when I wrote this post, about how important it is to make ethical clothing choices? I thought I'd try and make it as easy as possible, if you're interested, by adding here some letters you can just copy and paste and edit to suit your needs. 

I learned about Ibex recently, in part of my campaign to wear more merino. You guys, merino is awesome: it wicks, it feels nice, and it's sustainable. I liked so much of the stuff on their website, but I couldn't find any information on their ethical practices. So I wrote this letter: 


The products on your site are so lovely, and I’m a huge fan of merino wool for daily wear, dress-up wear, and exercise gear! Before making a purchase, though, I’d like to have some information about the way your wool and labor are sourced. Can you share with me anything about the standard of treatment for your textile workers and also for your sheep? Thanks!

And then I got this GREAT response: 

Hi there,
Thank you for your interest and concern. We are happy to share this info with you.
The majority of our sheep are in New Zealand where they are free to range on hundreds (or thousands) of acres - usually only returning to the farm to lamb or to be sheared. The shepherds make sure they have adequate water, shelter, and medical attention. No Ibex sheep is put through mulesing, which is incredibly cruel. There is a certification called Zcue - I have attached a link so you may read about that as well.

Ibex also visits the factories and facilities that make the clothing, making sure they are held to the utmost standards. We take great measures to be sustainable, ecological, and environmentally friendly.

Which was exactly, exactly what I needed to hear, and right now I am wearing an Ibex Balance Bralette, and I am so happy about it. 

Here's another note I sent, to the clothing company Joah Brown, after buying a shirt at a

Hi! I really like the clothes on your site. I just purchased one of your shirts at Ooh La Loft in Santa Rosa, and it’s the softest garment I have ever felt. I want to live in it!

However, I can’t find any information on how you source your fabrics, what your labor standards look like, or what your sustainability practices are. Before I make a purchase, I try to make sure that the clothes I buy are ethically produced. Could you reply with some of that information? Thanks so much.

Here's the response I received: 

Hi Lorelle,

Ooh La Loft is a great account for us...I am happy you found us.

I hear you on the ethically produced part for sure. All of our garments are sourced and produced in Los Angeles.

Since labor practices are regulated in this country, I feel okay about this, even if it's less specific than the response I got from Ibex. I'm totally still wearing my super-soft Joah Brown t-shirt. (And I'm stalking the Ibex site kind of obsessively .) 

The absolute best way to dress in a way that follows your conscience is, of course, to purchase secondhand clothing--clothing that doesn't require additional resources to get to your closet. If you are going to purchase clothing new, though, it makes sense to buy things that will last a long time, both in terms of durability and in terms of style; to buy from companies that have a stated ethical and sustainability approach (like Rambler's Way, American Apparel, Everlane, and more and more every day!); and, when in doubt, write your letter--or just copy mine!--and make sure you get the answers you need.

ps: i'm not linked with any of these companies in any way except i wear their clothes sometimes--but i'm not getting, like, a kickback or whatever for posting about them! if that is ever the case, i promise to tell you. in the meantime, let me help you help the world by wearing beautiful things that are gentle on our environment and the people who live in it. 

Today's outfit: men's shirt via a friend's clothing swap, miniskirt via Goodwill,  Rambler's Way wool tank, American Apparel leggings, Frye boots secondhand via eBay.