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6 top tips for buying ethical fashion

24th February 2015

Last year I made the switch from high-street fiend to ethical fashion friend after reading one too many horror stories about the way clothes are made – I just couldn’t stop thinking about who had suffered so that I could spend less on a T-shirt that would probably last about 3 months. It’s not only been far easier than I imagined, but has actually made me better dressed too, because I think more about my purchases and am more creative. So, if you want to reject sweat-shopped high street for good, or just be a little more conscious when you can, I’ve put together some of my top tips for buying ethically.

1. Get thrifty

Charity shops in the UK are a total haven for great clothes at great prices – they not only help charities fund incredible work but also reduce landfill. The quality has got better and better over time – your local charity shop is probably better organised than your local Primark – and as there is such a fast fashion turnover, stock is replenished frequently with often real quality stuff. One man’s trash…

2. Think Local!

You’d be amazed what’s going on in your local area. That little boutique that’s just opened up might have locally knitted hats or stock a well-known ethical brand (we do!). Next time you’re roaming the high street pop into the independent stores and ask them about their ethical policies and suitable stock. Since I started working at Tigerlily I’ve been so much more aware of what other shops in the local area stock and it’s been great. Keep your eyes open in your city and you might stumble across a weekly vintage market or a clothes swap – you could even get a few of your friends together and host your own (wine optional, but recommended) ☺

3. Try it on

I’ve been cajoled into trying on clothes I wouldn’t have normally given a second look, then discovering they are the best, most flattering items of clothing on the planet. It’s made me more inspired when I shop alone too – I tried on a crazy-looking snakey-fleece snood from Urban Code recently and whilst on the shelf it looked a bit out there, on my neck it made my outfit. Love. So next time you’re out shopping in ethical stores, take a strong-minded and fashionable friend along with you then try on anything and everything they recommend. You might just surprise yourself!

4. Accessorise

If going all out ethical at once is too much for you (it can be a shock to the system) start thinking about shoes and accessories and trying to be conscious of where and how they are made. I discovered TOMS, an ethical footwear brand, and never looked back. I covet People Tree’s knitted gloves and hats. A local silversmith made my necklace. Easy!

5. Go online

A quick Google can give you a ream of ethical brands and then you can check out their websites and get to know your favourite looks and styles. Some great brands that we stock in Tigerlily are Komodo, Skunkfunk, Urban Code and Matt & Nat.

Right now I’m a big fan of Matt & Nat’s seriously quality faux-leather bags and purses, with Skunkfunk’s staple black cardigan a super-soft must-have. Check out what ethical fashion bloggers have to say and search for hashtags like #ethicalfashion on social media for more inspiration.

6. Share the love!

Finally, strength is definitely in numbers. Since I started shopping ethically at the suggestion of an impeccably-dressed ethical friend, I’ve passed on the baton and have inspired my friends to be more fashion conscious too. We go to vintage fairs, fancy charity shops (Primrose Hill in London is unreal) and incredible charity fashion auctions (I won a designer £600 dress with a £30 bid!) then I spend time online in the ASOS eco edit and now on Tigerlily too!

The worn-out view that ethical fashion = hemp skirts and harems needs to be challenged because it so wildly untrue. If you shop ethically it just means you think more about it, sometimes invest a little more in something made well that lasts longer, or less in something great that you’ve found second-hand. Ethical fashion can be whatever you want it to be, so embrace and enjoy!

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