While the fashion industry is notorious for its environmental wastefulness and often poor treatment of its workers, buyers often wish to make a difference, but are lost when it comes to navigating such a complex industry. However, there are many options when it comes to making sure your clothes come from moral and sustainable platforms. Here are 3 ethical fashion companies you should buy from.
Image Credit: thredup.com
Given the second hand nature of all their listed products, this online thrift-store’s values revolve around sustainability. ThredUP wishes to challenge the fashion industry’s unnecessary obsession with “newness”, lessening the amount of discarded clothing in landfills. They use innovative technology to process thousands of garments a a day, while spreading education of the environmental benefits of buying used fashion. They even collaborated with Olivia Wilde to create a second hand t-shirt collection, promoting the significance of second hand fashion to mainstream audiences. With a wide arrange of options of 35k brands, ThredUP is suitable for any shopper. Take their original fashion footprint calculator quiz if you want to make a positive impact!
2. American Apparel
Image Credit: americanapparel.com
At its height of popularity, American Apparel dominated internet platforms such as Tumblr with their sexualized, high flash photography advertising and straightforward designs. It originally went bankrupt in 2017, shutting down 110 stores. However, the brand was revived by Canadian manufacturer Gildan Activewear, the second most sustainability managed apparel company, who revamped its image to highlight female empowerment. Currently, American Apparel operates as an online only platform. Currently, the brand emphasizes its “ethically made and sweatshop free culture. According to their website: “All production employees at our owned facilities earn significantly more than the legally-mandated minimum industry wages in all the countries where we operate. Moreover, in the majority of our locations, our employees receive valuable competitive benefits such as 24-hour access to medical clinics, free transportation to and from work, subsidized meals, and access to financial aid programs.” They also value the LGBTQ+ community, donating to the Trevor Project and the Montreal Pride Parade.
Media Girls LA Founder Alex Jackson. Photo Credits: https://enspiremag.com/2021/03/media-girls-la-founder-alex-jackson-on-marketing-and-wage-differences/
On-camera media personality, SHEEN Correspondent, and founder of Media Girls LA, Alex Jackson is a pioneer of strategic marketing and a champion of equal representation in the influencer world. Fusing her talent for and experiences in event curation, influencer branding and marketing, and publicity, she founded her own agency, Media Girls LA, in 2018 to help connect influencers with established brands across the country. As her monthly flow of brand deals became increasingly prolific, she learned that her white counterparts were paid significantly higher. The stark pay gap between Black and white content creators with the same following was jarring, and she committed to focusing her work on promoting and advising influencers of color. When the pandemic hit, both brands and content creators experienced insurmountable barriers, which created few opportunities for promotions and sponsorships. Rather than giving up, however, Jackson broadened her approach to strategic brand deals to include a more diverse array of influencers and tactics. With a rapidly expanding network, ultimately, in 2020, she closed the highest number of brand deals since the launch of her company, securing $100 thousand in brand deals for Black content creators. Working with influencers such as Mehgan James, Romeo Miller, Master P, and Miracle Watts, Jackson hopes to continue expanding her network and advocating for equal pay and representation for Black influencers. In this interview, Jackson shares more about the genesis of and mission behind her company, her aspirations moving forward, and the lasting impact of her work on racial equality in the media.
Please tell us about your career path, leading up to the launch of your company, Media Girls LA. What inspired you to found this company?
Most people don’t know the planning of MGL initially started with 4 ladies working within the media industry. The initial idea of the organization spawned from a thought on the Soul Train Awards’ red carpet, where we decided to host our first event as a women’s media brunch. What can I say, the strong survive. But seriously, although the event was a success, it was clear the collaboration was not going to work, so after the first event I continued MGL in 2018 as a solo endeavor.
Beauty Meetup with Macy’s. Photo Credits: https://www.mediagirlsla.com/gallery
How did the pandemic affect your work and change the trajectory of your career?
At the beginning of the pandemic, it was very rocky being that all my speaking engagements were canceled, along with my MGL scheduled events. In addition, I was in the midst of launching my t-shirt business, and my media junkets out of town were all placed on pause, as well as all the branding collaborations engagements I had solidified for the upcoming months. Literally, everything I do to make money was at a complete halt, but what’s crazy, I still wasn’t worried. I knew God was going to see me through it; I didn’t know how, but I knew it would be okay. That’s when I went in complete hustle mode. I started to make and sell E-books, webinar replays, and virtual events and come up with different strategic plans to broaden my reach when it came to influencers and brands.
What is your central goal as a content creator, and how do you work to make space for more influencers of color in the media?
Once finding out that Caucasians influencers were making more money in the industry, my mission has been solely to make sure they get the money they deserve. My primary goal started with me recruiting influencers that look like me and that I knew had great content to help them run up a bag! I’m very picky as to who I take on my roster now compared to the past. I teach them how they should stand their ground on their pay request and help them with understanding how much they should be charging for their services as well.
Compton’s School District Girl Empowerment Symposium. Photo Credits: https://www.mediagirlsla.com/gallery
What was the biggest challenge you encountered in obtaining sponsorships and brand partnerships?
I would say for brand partnerships, it has been finding the contacts, and sponsorships would probably be about the same. Either way, I don’t give up easily and quitting is not an option. As I have learned to do more, I’ve become creative in my approach to discovering different ways to find contacts.
In addition to racial equity and representation, what are some of the central issues you see in influencer culture? In your experience, how has the influencer business impacted body image and mental health among millennials?
It’s definitely a wage gap between races without a doubt, and everyone knows it. It’s really unfair especially being that in a lot of instances those black influencers have more engagement and followers. I have had to give a few pep talks to my content creators when some of them have felt like giving up on YouTube because they feel like they play favorites. It discourages them and leads them to think their content isn’t good enough. A lot of influencers I’m friends with feel like they need to have surgery to keep up their looks, or women who want to be influencers feel like they need surgery to be noticed as an influencer, but none of that is true at all.
Alex Jackson, Champion of Equality for Black Influencers. Photo Credits: https://enspiremag.com/2021/03/media-girls-la-founder-alex-jackson-on-marketing-and-wage-differences/
What are some ways media consumers can contribute to a more equitable and healthy space in the media industry?
Just like any other industry, we have to let it be known that this behavior exists. For many people, all this is still new, although it has been around for over a decade. The more consumers understand the dynamics behind what we do and the work involved, they will be able to contribute on a great scale toward equitable measures. In the mean, influencers and content creators need to shed light on this issue to make consumers aware.
What do you think will be the lasting impact of your work, even in the post-covid era? What’s next for you?
I think the lasting impact of my work will be the footprints that I have left for those who are interested in getting into the industry. The foundational vision of MGL derived from being a beacon to help others starting out in the business, and it has continued to be our foundation to this day.
I plan on doing in-person events post-COVD to teach influencers how to make a bag from social media. I’m also releasing two E-books, “How To Make A Bag From The Gram,” and one about how to obtain sponsorships for events, as well as building my tee shirt business “Statement Tees” @statementtees_ . Media Girls LA is already on track to supersede our number of brand deals from last year and to increase our network.
1980s Fashion Designer Patrick Kelly in his “Paris” baseball hat. Photo credits: https://www.mcnayart.org/blog/fashion-nirvana-patrick-kelly
Oversized bows, rainbow button embroidery, rhinestone Eiffel Tower motifs: American designer Patrick Kelly was an iconoclastic visionary in the 1980s fashion scene. Born in Mississippi in 1954, Kelly’s exuberant aesthetic especially shaped Parisian and New York nightlife culture, offering young men and women a novel form of self-expression. Inspired by his own cultural heritage and an exploration of his sexuality, Kelly’s work served as powerful racial statements in his time, albeit conveyed with humor. Though short-lived, Kelly’s decade-long career was prolific; a catalyst for audacious new forms of dress, his legacy is manifested in the wide range of intersectional celebration in the fashion industry today.
Raised by his mom and grandma, who introduced him to the world of fashion magazines, Kelly cultivated an interest in fashion at an early age. By his early 20’s, Kelly had become an independent couturier. His designs paid homage to Parisian culture through humorous references to French fashion and art history. For instance, his silhouettes emulated iconic styles of Parisian namesake labels, such as CoCo Chanel’s slinky black dresses and the gender-bending silhouettes of YSL’s suits. At the same time, many of these ensembles were accessorized with overt references to his dream hometown — such as berets and avant-garde headdresses — and decorated with ironic embellishments, such as rhinestones in the shape of The Eiffel Tower, red lipstick patterns, or a framed Mona Lisa motif placed sporadically across the fabric. This playful approach to celebrating Parisian culture was unprecedented at its time; Kelly articulated to the press at a runway show in the late 80s that his central goal as a designer was for “his clothes to make you smile.”
Patrick Kelly “Love” gowns, which represented his love for art, fashion, and expression, 1988. Photo credits: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303678404579533602198595352
Kelly moved to Paris in 1979, where his avant-garde aesthetic attracted instant media coverage. The publicity from his widely-admired 1985 spread in Elle France precipitated the establishment of his own commercial business, and, by the end of the 1980s, he was a namesake label in the New York and Parisian nightlife scene. As Dilys Blu, curator of The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s 2014 exhibition Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love wrote, his work was greatly influenced by the “the heady, inventive, and often-subversive urban milieu” of New York and Paris’ subcultures — namely, queer and African American communities. His ensembles featured overt references to queer pride, such as rainbow buttons embroidered in the motif of a large heart, a “I Love Patrick Kelly” pattern swooping across the front of a gown, and rainbow tulle and pinwheels as accessories.
Kelly’s designs grew increasingly adventurous and complex over the course of his career trajectory. Though his work was predominantly recognized for its aesthetic novelty, it also served as a tangible manifestation of his cultural identity. For instance, his most seminal pieces were inspired by African American folklore and his Southern roots. The influence of his heritage and cultural identity were evident in the poofy skirts, voluminous silhouettes, usage of denim, and overalls featured in the collection.
Patrick Kelly SS89 Collection, photographed by Oliviero Toscani. Photo credits: https://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/19678/1/the-secret-history-of-patrick-kelly
Kelly’s runway shows brought his racial and cultural pride to life, as they celebrated racial diversity and body inclusivity. Some of his models’ walks were also inspired by drag culture; they danced down the stage and performed gender-bending acts such as removing a traditionally-female wig while wearing extravagant makeup during their walk. This could be due in part to Kelly’s involvement in and creative inspiration from the gay nightlife scene in Paris and New York. Additionally, many of the collection’s most striking details — such as the Golliwog logo, Aunt Jemima bandana dresses, and black baby-doll brooches — served as satirical yet playful racial statements. For instance, the Golliwog logo, which became a part of Patrick Kelly’s brand logo, was prevalent throughout many of his designs. In his 1988 runway show, the motif is scattered across one white, body-con gown from 1988. On the black version of the gown, its placement seemed more intentional, as it sat on the bust and backside of the model. Another design, a pair of denim overalls with colorful buttons, was embroidered with a large Golliwogo motif; it was styled with a white t-shirt printed with red hearts and the silhouette of a woman in a crinoline skirt and a baseball hat embroidered with the word “PARIS.” Modeled by an African American male, this multifaceted and dynamic piece opened a dialogue about the intersection of race, sexuality, and cultural identity present in his work.
A young prodigy, Kelly passed away from AIDS on January 1, 1990, but his influence on New York and Parisian culture are long-lasting. He was not only the first African American designer who rose to fame in France but also the first American designer who was invited to join the Chambre Syndicale, an exclusive body of professionals within the French ready-to-wear community. His legacy in the fashion industry is also manifested in the designs of several contemporary designers, such as the whimsical New York-based streetwear label, Gerlan Jeans. Founded by fashion designer and graphic artist Gerlan Marcel, Gerlan Jeans pays homage to Kelly’s unapologetically loud and vibrant aesthetic; featuring reinterpretations of Kelly’s iconic oversized bows, colorful buttons, and quirky embellishments, the label strives to dress those who are fearless in the way they dress. What is perhaps most powerful about Kelly’s impact on the industry was his commitment to diversity and cultural pride. In addition to offering new, avant-garde forms of self expression, his work opened a dialogue about the intersection of identity, sexuality, and fashion, as it challenged racial and cultural boundaries within the fashion industry.
We need inspiring members of society to help us fight for justice, so, Raye Zaragoza gives us the push we need. This award winning singer-songwriting found her footing with her independent debut album in 2017, Fight For You. The album features her quiet, powerful song ‘In The River’. She wrote the song response to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The song quickly rose in the ratings, leading her to win a Global Music Award and an Honest Oscar. The artist dedicates her music to the fight for justice and equality for all.
Zaragoza talks about many social issues in her lyrics. “As a woman of color in America, social issues are things you deal with and see every day of your life,” she shared. “I write about my experience and oftentimes my existence has been laced with injustice.” Her next album is due
The powerful artist shares her new project, a music video entitled ‘Fight Like A Girl’, where she shatters the ideas of what a woman can and cannot do.
She said this about the video. “Especially in these strange times, many of us find ourselves glued to our phones and scrolling through social media. I wanted to create a video showcasing so many of the amazing womxn and girls who show up on my newsfeed. Womxn and girls that are using their lives and/or platforms to be their best selves and show the world how they “fight like a girl.” I wanted to create a video that told the stories of diverse womxn and girls, and I wanted to show that ‘fighting like a girl’ is different to every person showcased in the video. Feminine energy is a powerful energy! And I hope that this is a three minute burst of empowering energy for everyone. I know we can all use some of that right now!”
Beyond music, Zaragoza continues her fight. She speaks at panels, recently at Bonnaroo and SXSW, so she can bring awareness and a stop to sexual violence. Engaging with her fanbase, she is sure to help make positive changes in this world. Stream her music here and take part in the fight for justice and equality.
In just a few short months, the coronavirus’ impact on local businesses has already been substantial, creating lasting consequences for black-owned vintage shops in particular. While both global powerhouses and local retailers have shuttered their doors, local businesses have been hit the hardest with staggering financial consequences. Consumer preferences rapidly shift from hedonic to utilitarian as the demand and budget for investment goods dwindle across various consumer demographics. The pandemic’s implications for the garment industry are no different: consumers are increasingly prioritizing affordable, long-lasting essentials over ephemeral trends or designer staples. The need to shop sustainably becomes more crucial than ever.
It is important to recognize that black-owned businesses in particular have been disproportionately affected as the pandemic and resurgence in political turbulence coincide. And as consumers, it is our responsibility to remember who and what we are supporting with our purchasing power. While protesting, supporting grassroots organizations, petitioning, and engaging in conversations on racial justice are crucial for political progress, supporting black-owned businesses is one of the most impactful and sustainable ways to demonstrate allyship. After all, elevating black voices and supporting black communities are necessary to create lasting changes.
Below is a list of ten top black-owned thrift stores and consignment shops, which offer one-of-a-kind vintage staples at accessible costs all over the country. From Fyre Vintage, a philanthropic vintage shop celebrating local artisans, to Small Needs, a vintage wonderland, these stores offer the opportunity to promote black-owned local businesses, shop sustainably, and find timeless statement pieces for your wardrobe. Think carefully about the implications of your purchases, remember the people behind the clothes you’re supporting, promote black-owned businesses and artisans, and have fun digging!
10. Roam Vintage
Founded by Natasha Zoë Garrett,Roam Vintage is an online thrift store based in LA. Natasha hand-picks and curates Roam Vintage’s product assortment of clothing, accessories, and home decor. Roam vintage is the perfect place to browse for intricate, earth-toned garments, chunky knits, and leather accessories.
New @RoamVintage drop for sale on 6/11 at 6:30 PM PST. Photo credits: Roam Vintage Instagram Page https://www.instagram.com/roam.vintage/
9. Shirley and Alice
Shirley and Alice was founded by Khalilah Williams-Webb, the personal stylist for the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony. This Brooklyn-based indy consignment store offers one-of-a-kind vintage staples. From a custom Alexander Wang purse to an embroidered 70s vest, shopping here is like digging through a treasure chest. In addition to being a vintage dreamland, Shirley and Alice supports local designers and businesses through collaborations and partnerships. It also fosters a strong sense of community among its fans through its pop up events, from Wine and Sip night to art fairs.
8. Ephrance Vintage
Ephrance Vintage is an Austin-based vintage store and Depop shop that features bold colors, geometric prints, and androgynous silhouettes. In addition to offering funky everyday staples, Ephrance Vintage is currently donating 75% of its proceeds to Six Square, a cultural center in Austin that celebrates black arts, music, and history.
Founded by Creative Director Arlinda McIntosh, The Sofistafunk label promotes slow-fashion consumption through its versatile, zero-waste skirts, which are all Handmade-to-Order. The brand brings Victorian-style silhouettes to the contemporary market with their funky details and couture prints. The voluminous skirts are designed to be worn for a myriad of occasions. The signature skirt, called The Gathering, is inspired by McIntosh’s childhood memories of her mother working in cotton fields in North Carolina. As Arlinda explained, “I was especially drawn to their full skirts, which seemed to blow musically on the wind, they were passed down and multifunctional. I’d watch them pin the hemlines up to the waist to create a large pocket that would hold various items needed for that day’s tasks, then by simply changing a few things and adding accessories, that same skirt that served them so well during the day seemed to magically transform into the most elegant outfit for other activities throughout the week. These and other memories left me with a full Anthology of future “Skirt Stories” to tell.”
Sofistafunk’s signature “Gathering Skirt” in its Reversible Late Day Style. Photo credits: https://sofistafunk.com/collections/the-gathering/products/a-late-day-gathering-1
6. Kuration Collective
Kuration Collective, a funky collection of hand-picked Alaskan vintage, is a Depop and Instagram-based second-hand resale shop. The brand prides itself upon its intricately-curated 80s Alaskan aesthetic and timeless collection of vintage Disney staples. The prices fall between $25.00 -$125.00, offering a wide array of styles from graphic tee’s to occasionwear. Kuration Collective donates 10% of its profits to Essie Justice Group, a nonprofit, intersectionalist organization of women combatting mass incarceration reform.
90s Disney Mom Jeans for sale on Kuration Collective’s Depop page. Photo credits: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBJbQZ9ldfi/
5. Marché Rue Dix
Marché Rue Dix, a concept store situated in Crown Heights Brooklyn, is any creative’s wonderworld. Their brick and mortar location carries quality vintage clothing, along with the work of contemporary Brooklyn creatives. From graphic tee’s and natural beauty products to teas and spices, Marché Rue Dix carries it all.
4. Second Hand Shawty
A global second-hand powerhouse, Second Hand Shawty is an eclectic e-commerce platform that prides itself upon its inclusive, one-of-a-kind wardrobe. Gender non-conforming and inclusive in sizing, the statement garments feature fun colors, oversized silhouettes, and funky 80s styles. Most garments are priced between $20.00 – $40.00.
3. People of 2Morrow
People of 2Morrow is an e-commerce fashion, accessory, and home decor vintage shop. The brand’s core values are centered around environmental sustainability, and it seeks to provide social responsible garments and home adornment for the eco-conscious millennial. With a slightly higher price point than the majority of the brands on this list, the platform features some designer finds. Most of the garments are around $80.00- $100.00.
80s Fuchsia Linen Blazer for sale on Peopleof2Morrow’s online store. Photo credits: https://www.peopleof2morrow.com/products/fuchsia-linen-vintage-blazer
2. Small Needs
A thrifting fanatic favorite, Small Needs is an online Etsy shop that sells whimsical designer vintage-wear. Its carefully curated collection is enchantingly beautiful, from its vintage 1960s womens clothing and fairy tale dresses and Dior blazers to its plissé gowns, lace corsets, and ornate 70s jewelry. Just a scroll through their Instagram feed will take your breath away. Feminine, Parisian, dreamy, and sexy, Small Needs is the place to turn when you’re in search of a vintage investment.
60s Lace Bustier for sale on Small Needs’ Etsy Store. Photo credits: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBCDd0ng4m8/
1. Fyre Vintage
Fyre Vintage is a Michigan-based vintage shop founded by @Daynabyday. Dayna strives to combat the dire environmental impact of fast fashion by encouraging second-hand shopping and supporting local businesses. Through Fyre Vintage, she seeks to promote second-hand consumption and to celebrate local artisans and businesses. 10% of Fyre’s proceeds are used to purchase sustainable, new clothing to donate to women’s shelters in Detroit.
90s Jones New York Oversized Houdstooth Blazer for sale on Fyre Vintage. Photo credits: https://www.fyrevintage.com/shop/vintage-jones-new-york-houndstooth-oversized-blazer
Read more fashion articles at Clichemag.com
Photo credits: Roam Vintage, SofistaFunk, Kuration Collective, People of 2Morrow, Small Needs, & Fyre Vintage
American-made, ethically sourced, and high quality; could you ask for anything more from a clothing brand? Womenswear company Emily VS Bear delivers all of this and more. With each purchase made, the company donates 20% of your purchase to a charity of your choice. It may sound too good to be true, but Emily VS Bear is propelled by their dedication to environmental, social, and political justice.
Every item in their online-only shop relates to environmental and social issues, and while the brand encourages you to choose to donate according to the theme of the item you purchase, the donation can be to any charity of your choice. By encouraging shoppers to donate, Emily VS Bear has fulfilled their goal of being a voice for the future. Their justice-charged t-shirts make consumers think about a variety of issues plaguing our earth and society. Themes include saving the bees, littering and waste, and environmental destruction at the hands of large corporations. The unique graphic designs are sure to be conversation starters. Emily VS Bear caters to those who are passionate and informed, but their designs are understated enough for everyday wear. Whether you’re attending a local protest or out running errands, an Emily VS Bear shirt is the perfect addition to any woke gal’s closet. We’ve picked out a few of our favorites from the Summer 2017 collection below, but we sure to head over to https://www.emilyvsbear.com/ to find the perfect shirt for you.