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Future of Fashion

The Good Trade Founder AmyAnn Cadwell Talks Ethical Fashion and Building a Sustainable Wardrobe

Photo: Courtesy of The Good Trade

The Good Trade, a digital platform focused on ethical and sustainable fashion, is a go-to resource for ethically-minded consumers who want to be better informed on the global impact of the fashion industry and to support fair trade and sustainable businesses. In a Q&A, CEO and co-founder AmyAnn Cadwell shares a few ways consumers can take a more conscientious approach to fashion. 

What exactly is ethical fashion?

Ethical fashion is a framework for ​a more ​thoughtful, intentional, and holistic approach to the fashion industry. All of the elements of fast fashion — trend replication, rapid production, low quality, competitive pricing — add up to having a sizable negative impact on the environment and the people involved in its production. In contrast, ​ethical fashion ​discourages excessive production, overcomplicated supply chains, and mindless consumption.​ Ethical fashion celebrates designing, creating, and buying garments for quality and longevity.

How can I build a sustainable wardrobe on a budget?

Fast fashion is easy for consumers because it’s just that: fast and inexpensive. Lasting for only a season or so, it’s easy for us to end up with clothes that tatter and rip after just a few wears. But when it comes to ethical fashion, the price tags for quality pieces can be daunting. The good news is that building a sustainable wardrobe doesn’t have to be expensive and exclusive. Always begin with what you already own and see if, with a little care, you can repair or repurpose a beloved garment. When buying new (or new to you), look for more affordable ethical fashion companies or seek to buy second hand. It’s important to direct our spending towards apparel that makes us feel and look good,without breaking the bank.

What is “greenwashing” and how can consumers educate themselves on navigating the many brands making claims about their environmental footprint?

Resources like The Good Trade and Good on You can serve as a trusted source for brand ratings and recommendations. If you can’t find the information you need online, take a moment to write a simple note to a brand you support inquiring about their production practices and sustainability commitments. Ask about their carbon footprint, the sourcing of their materials, where their design and manufacturing takes place, and their commitments to gender equality and diversity. Brands that are aligned to values of ethical and sustainable production will readily share the steps they are taking to protect people and the planet.

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