Ethical Shopping: Your Dollar Matters

For years, the clothing industry has been known for utilizing forced labor, trafficking victims, and poor working conditions to their advantage. Cheap items always seem to come at a cost to someone else. Through our work at AIM, we have seen the value of a safe, sustainable job. But perhaps more importantly, we have seen what a detriment the lack of this holds for vulnerable parents, families, and even survivors. 

Rescue alone does not guarantee a life of freedom. Unfortunately, the majority of survivors who have been rescued from exploitation and sex trafficking will end up returning to the life of exploitation or being retargeted by traffickers if they can’t find better employment. Many survivors were trafficked at a young age or had their education interrupted, so finding decent work is a massive challenge. That is why we are passionate about protecting these survivors, and others who were vulnerable to exploitation, by providing them with safe and sustainable employment. At our employment centers, our staff receives fair wages, education, childcare, healthcare, as well as love, acceptance, and training. And, good news! There are many other organizations and brands that are changing the narrative for the clothing industry by providing safe and healthy working environments to their employees.

Your dollar, and where you choose to spend it, matters.

It may be easier to gravitate toward cheap, fast fashion trends, but do you know who it is hurting? This reality can be difficult to face, and hard to avoid. Products that are labeled as “fair trade” are usually more expensive, since the company has pledged to provide fair wages and working conditions to ALL of their employees. But we encourage you to take a look at some of your spending habits. Who are you supporting with your dollar? 

Don’t be overwhelmed! Start small. To help you with this, we have compiled a list of our favorite ethical brands! Each brand represented here is committed to creating beautiful products in fair conditions.

CHECK OUT OUR FAVORITE ETHICAL BRANDS:

Able

Able started after women and Ethiopia, who were coming out of the sex trade industry, were in need of employment. They took this need for jobs for women that help end the cycle of poverty, and met it with a beautiful brand that economically empowers women all across the world!

AIM Apparel

Not to be biased, but this is one of our favs! All products at AIM Apparel are made at AIM’s Employment Centers (mentioned above) by survivors of trafficking and those protected from exploitation. When you shop at AIM Apparel, you can be sure that you are making a tangible difference in the lives of these people!

Anthem

Another brand that is close to our hearts, Anthem gives employment opportunities to women who have been rescued by AIM. Each beautifully crafted piece, made at AIM’s Employment Centers, shows the heart behind Anthem and their passion for freedom!

Artisan & Fox

The community that Artisan & Fox has built empowers artisans from around the world and connects them to everyday consumers. Their investment in “local makers” helps to fulfill needs based on each individual artisan, while honoring tradition and technique in each region in which they work. The result is gorgeous pieces with a beautiful background!

BYTAVI

BYTAVI seamstresses are the heart behind this brand. Developed to provide employment to women in Cambodia, BYTAVI strives to produce quality items while encouraging their employees to develop a healthy work/life balance. On top of that, the fabric used is remnant, so each product is limited to the materials they have. Your one-of-a-kind piece is just waiting!

Dorsu

Meaning persistent or tenacious in Khmer, Dorsu is a brand that is passionate about providing wardrobe essentials that last. Because they are a manufacturing brand, they are able to control the safe, fair working conditions of ALL of their employees. Their goal is to be an example to the garment industry in Cambodia and around the world!

Everlane

… we want the right choice to be as easy as putting on a great T-shirt“. Everlane does just that. Because they partner with ethical factories AND source great materials, everything about this brand is just right!

Fortress of Inca

We love how Fortress of Inca thinks: “We truly believe that the people who make our shoes are just as important as those who buy them.” These incredible shoes are handmade in Peru and this brand ensures fair wages, gender equality, and safe working conditions. That’s a win-win-win in our book!

Naadam

Naadam brings the comfiest cashmere sweaters to the everyday person by working directly with herders and sweater makers in Mongolia. “…fair for them – and for you.” We love the mission behind Naadam and the community they are building around these sweaters!

Nisolo

Nisolo is creating intentional designs while providing their producers with fair wages, healthcare, and healthy work environments. All of this PLUS their items are sold straight to consumers, without a middleman, so you receive the high quality at a fair price. Their shoes and accessories are the epitome of timeless!

Pact

Made with “Earth’s Favorite Fiber, Organic Cotton“, Pact is creating clothing that is not only extremely comfortable, but each item is made in Fair Trade Certified factories. These pieces are good for the environment, good for the people making them, and – let’s be real – they’re good for us too!

Penh Lenh

Another Cambodia-based brand, Penh Lenh’s name means “whole”. As founder, Rachel Dodson explains, this name directly counters the Khmer word for someone who has been sexually abused or trafficked, which translates to “broken”. These delicate jewelry pieces are empowering women in this community by providing “dignified employment, skill training, and educational opportunities”.

Prana

From the source of their cotton to the safety of their employees, PrAna is making sure that each piece of their clothing is sustainable and ethically made. Their products are durable and versatile, and we love that they are dedicated to those making their clothes AND the environment!

Ten thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages makes it simple to shop ethically. They have gathered hundreds of products from all over the world that put “people and planet first“. Each unique piece has a beautiful story and artisan behind it. Now that’s a brand we can get behind!

What’s Next?

If you want to take the next step, check out Know The Chain to see which popular brands (not just clothing!) are excelling at ethical production… and which are not.

Do you have a favorite, ethical brand that wasn’t listed here? Let us know in the comments!

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