With everything else we students have on our plates, it can be very hard to keep track of where our clothes are coming from and how they are made –especially when the companies themselves can hardly trace their supply chain. Whereas clothing was once a vessel for creative expression, it has now turned into a source of identity, a power tool, and a symbol of wealth. Everyday we are bombarded with brand logos: Canada Goose, Nike, The North Face, Coach. These names have been subconsciously drilled into our brains and we can hardly logically attest to why we want the “big-name” brands, yet regardless we buy them.  

As consumers we have the power to control the market and decide which companies can prosper. We have abandoned this opportunity and have allowed corrupt corporations with poor animal treatment, human rights, and labor standards get by not only unscathed, but prosperous with wealth. Unfortunately, it is much harder than it should be to find ethical, sustainable brands, but there are companies on the upswing and it’s our job, as consumers, to help them. If nothing else, now we have a reason to distract ourselves with online shopping and find new brands.

The following list will help guide you to make the ethical decision when you’re buying your next winter coat, fracket, or any other college essentials:

1Patagonia

Leading in the community of environmentally and socially responsible companies, Patagonia set a precedent that other corporations strive to match. They keep an open conversation about their supply chain, allowing consumers to see their fair-trade certified sewing production and other suppliers. Their sometimes high prices are justified by the lifetime guarantee that ensures a replaced jacket whenever you need. Rather than having their products thrown out, they encourage buyers to recycle back to the company and in exchange receive new gear.

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2VAUTE

As the first vegan fashion brand, VAUTE is up there as one of the most ethical, sustainable brands you will find. All of their mills use organic and recycled fibers to produce their cruelty-free products. Looking for an alternative to the Canadian Goose? Check out their Casto Parka made of 100% closed loop zero waste, windproof, and snow resistant material. While it may not be cheap, it is less than the goose. You are paying to support both local workers with fair wages and a company that is looking out for our planet. On top of all that, unlike many of the other sustainable companies located in Europe, VAUTE is based in NYC.

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Filippa K

All of the products you will buy from Filippa K were designed and manufactured to be long lasting in their quality and timeless in their style. They value transparency through the supply chain, which puts pressure on other companies to do the same. Shifting the standard in corporations will force the corrupt brands to change their practices. Not only do they have Parkas to choose from, you can also shift your sport attire to all ethical alternatives. If that hasn’t sold you, at least you can say you’re wearing Scandinavian clothing.

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Kings of Indigo

Looking for new jeans? Look no further; Kings of Indigo is a company known mainly for their, 90% organic cotton combined with recycled cotton and hemp denim. Not only are they all organic, this ethical brand also minimizes water consumption through alternative dyeing techniques. Plus, you won’t break the bank paying to look not only hip but smart in your new ethically made pants.

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Bleed

Contrary to how it sounds, no one is bleeding to produce this clothing. As a company built upon a fair, sustainable and vegan value set, all of their products consistently carry out their ideals. Bleed sustainably produces everything from Coats to swimwear without compromising the more widely liked aesthetics of fashion. Reviews even claim that the warmth of their jackets match up to leading brands. To add to the charm, as you’re shopping you can imagine the small family business from Germany that is behind the brand.

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People Tree

If you’re looking for an alternative brand that most closely matches up to Ann-Taylor or J Crew, People Tree is your place. Now that we are turning into real people, we need to start buying real people clothes. You can prove your “adultness” by also being smart about where you choose to shop. People Tree mainly backs initiatives for sustainable futures by using natural resources through production.

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As consumers we have the power to control the market and decide which brands will prosper. Let us work together to support the ethical corporations and in turn support workers, animals, and the environment.

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