ethical vs sustainable fashion

/ this post is sponsored by Honest Department

Scroll through any fashion brand’s social media account and you’ll likely see a peppering of ‘#ethical’ or ‘#sustainable’ across a fair share of posts. At this point, these terms are simply used as marketing signposts that a company is morally good. Of course, this does make sense - I know I focus this aspect of a brand when I’m shopping with them, and I’m sure you do too.

But when it comes down to it, what exactly are our favourite fashion brands claiming when they say a piece of clothing is ethical or sustainable?

Gentlemen, start your engines. And may the most morally good brand win.


/ you might also want to read the capsule wardrobe: what + why?

The true cost of cheap clothing recently hit headlines harder than ever before thanks to Stacey Dooley’s investigative documentary, Fashion’s Dirty Secrets. Since its debut in early October last year, our high streets have seen a considerable rise in conscious collections, reflecting the paralleled upsurge in public interest on the topic. And whilst we’re very early on in the journey, the industry is definitely moving in the right direction - I think this it’s so exciting to see so many large-scale businesses realising how crucial a part they have to play in the change - till now, They’ve been sittin’ on some secrets.

/ you might also want to read let’s talk fast fashion

The terms ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ are undoubtedly taking over the fashion world at the moment, so I think it’s worth digging a little deeper into these sought-after and interchangeably-used buzzwords. I was a bit confused as to where they overlap, so I dived deep into the void that is world of Google search results past the first page. I’ve tried to break it down in a simple way because otherwise this post would turn into a blog of its own.


what’s ‘ethical’ fashion all about?

How morally good can a pair of shoes be?

This one’s focused on the creation of the product. The ethics of a garment are generally focused on two aspects of its construction - what it’s made from and who made it.

the materials

The ethical side of a garment’s materials is focused on the avoidance of leather, fur, feathers, wool and silk. The list goes on, but these are the most common I’ve seen used in clothing. In order to acquire Each of these materials, a process takes place involving the mistreatment of animals. I was about to go off on a ‘YOU WOULDN’T SKIN YOUR DOG’ rant but I don’t want to get preachy on you - you know the morals behind this already!

the makers

The other side of ethical fashion is focused on the treatment of the people who make our clothes. This ranges from physical working conditions to shift lengths to wages to physical and emotional treatment. If you’d like to find out more about this side of things (and what we can do to help), I’d definitely recommend watching The True Cost ( which is available on Netflix ) .

/ you might also want to read guilt + sustainability in fashion


What does ‘sustainable’ actually mean in the fashion world?

How’s a pair of shoes going to stop global warming then, eh Nati?

The sustainability side of the coin is first and foremost concerned with the conservation of the planet.

the materials

As with the ethical side of the fashion world, much of the sustainable side of fashion places emphasis on what a piece of clothing is made from - in particular, whether a garment’s materials harm the planet.

the quality

It’s time to channel your inner ‘I’d like to speak to the manager please’, because honey you ain’t settlin’ for less than the best. In 2018, more than 15 million tonnes of used textile waste was generated in the USA alone. The average American throws away around 80 pounds of clothing per year, per person. And this time we can’t just say ‘those Americans are crazy!’, because we’re not far off. So where does this material go? landfill. It literally just takes up space on the planet. This means less space for new crops to grow, for people to live, for animals to graze, etc. But if we start trying to invest in better quality pieces, they’ll remain in our wardrobes for years and years ( resell and recycle afterwards! ) . In short: higher quality, lower pollution.

/ you might also want to read a minimalist’s guide to thrifting


So how on earth do I start shopping ethical and sustainable fashion?

I’m glad you asked! I’m very excited to say that This post is sponsored by a newly launched online fashion store that provides morally good clothing for minimalists ( as well as for people that love a print or splash of colour ) ! At Honest Department you’ll find fashion that fits into their five core value-focused categories: eco friendly, natural / organic, social change, artisanal / handmade and vegan. They very kindly asked me if I’d like to pick something from their site, and I chose this beautiful dress by Diarte, an independent brand based in Madrid with a focus on sustainable materials and ethical craftsmanship when bringing their timeless designs to life. you can read more about Diarte’s ethics here.


I hope you found this post helpful if you were as confused by these sought-after hashtags as I was and that you enjoy checking out Honest Department - I really think you’ll love their selection of pieces as much as I do! I also hope my blog’s findings can help you out and that hearing from someone right at the start of their ethical and sustainable fashion journey makes it far less intimidating. Let’s make this RuPaul’s best friend race.

What do you prioritise when buying new clothes?