Holidays with a Heart Series: 3 ethical clothing brands that do not use sweatshop labor

The holiday season has officially begun! Do you love giving gifts to friends and family at this time of year? For the fashionista on your list, check out these fairtrade and ethical fashion brands that refuse to use sweatshop labor. While this is only a short list, there are many more ethical clothing companies out there to choose from – just check a company’s website for more information about their production and labor practices.

Fast fashion and the Human Cost

In the fashion world, there is a term called “fast fashion,” which, according to the Institute for Human Rights at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, “refers to the shift in the fashion industry that has resulted in faster production with lower costs.”1 While this may seem like a good thing on paper, it means that only about 3% of the clothes we buy in the US are made here (versus in the 1960’s, when 90% of the clothes we purchased in the US were made here).2

The majority of the clothing we purchase from US clothing retailers are made using sweatshop labor in countries that have fewer and more lax labor laws. These sweatshops often have unsafe working conditions and unfair wages, creating environments that seriously compromise the health and well-being of laborers. This holiday season, let’s all make choices with our wallets to ensure we are contributing to a healthier, happier and more sustainable world. By refusing to shop in stores that use sweatshop labor, together we can reduce the demand for unethically produced clothing.

Happy gifting! And check back Friday for more sustainable gift ideas. 

LL Bean– This favorite local Maine retailer is committed to fair trade and ethical production. According to their website, their “in-house monitoring team coordinates with third-party organizations to ensure our strict standards for working conditions and human rights are met everywhere we do business.”This means that you can buy high-quality gear and clothing for your outdoorsy loved ones while shopping locally and ethically! Check out for more info!

Everlane – This UK-based retailer illustrates their ethos in their tag line:Exceptional quality. Ethical factories. Radical transparency. As part of their commitment to transparency, Everlane breaks down the “true cost” of their products, including the cost of labor. They claim to use only the most ethical factories in the world and to monitor these factories frequently for fair wages and safe workplace environments.

Read more about Everlane here:

Reformation – This Los Angeles clothing company is committed to sustainability on many levels, from the materials it chooses to its carbon footprint to ethical labor.According to their website, they “currently require that suppliers meet our standards for: social responsibility, safe & non-toxic, and better materials.”They also hold tours of their factories so that the public can meet factory workers and see working conditions for themselves.

Read more about Reformation here: