The popular fast-fashion chain Zara recent made headlines for notes about unfair work environments being slipped into clothing items from the workers making them. This is not the first time the retailer has been under fire for the use of unregulated sweatshops to produce their clothing; In 2011, Brazilian factories producing Zara products were accused of slave labor. These types of accusations have prompted labor activists to encourage fashion lovers to practice responsible shopping and always be aware of what kind of conditions your clothing is coming from.
Ethical fashion, according to the Ethical Fashion Forum, “represents an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing [that] maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment.” Ethical fashion has been a long discussed topic, specifically pertaining to the cost and availability of ethical products. Popular brands like Patagonia, Tobi, and Levi’s have branded themselves as high quality ethical alternatives to fast fashion brands like Forever21 and H&M. However, for some, price and style options aren’t the only issues.
Finding ethical fashion for plus-sized men and women is another important issue that may rise in the search for sustainable clothing. Fashionable plus-size clothing in most retailers is already difficult enough to come by, but adding the desire to shop ethically undecidedly leaves few options for the consumer. Between the lack of availability for ethical clothing, the higher cost and the lack of variety in plus-size styles, ethically conscious plus-size shoppers may seem like they’ve hit a fashion dead-end.
However, there have been a rise in independent retailers that do offer ethical options for plus-size women. Some of these brands may have gone well under the radar, but it’s important for the fashion world to acknowledge the work they’re doing to better the fashion world. Here are a few plus-sized brands that are making it possible for all fashionable consumers to be able to shop responsibly.
This chic UK-based clothing line features a number of Forever21-esque pieces, several modeled by Jenner family friend and plus-sized model Jordyn Woods. The company includes a number fierce Little Black Dresses for any occasions, as well as a myriad of cute floral rompers. Pink Clove offers affordable clothing options for any plus-size women looking to up their fashion game, without supporting sweatshops and underpaying workers.
Seasalt is a European-based company that produces number of high-quality, nautical-themed pieces. The J. Crew aesthetic of the line offers the perfect chunky sweater for a weekend getaway by the sea. The handmade tunics and raincoats come in a series of solid colors as well as vibrant patterns. Although the price tag isn’t exactly college-kid friendly, shoppers should put the practice of cost-per-wear into the products this company offers. They’re investment pieces and classic pieces, so you can’t go wrong.
While this clothing line offers fewer options, the select coats they make provide plus-sized women the ability to rock trendy coats all throughout the year. The high price count of this clothing makes everything less accessible than current popular brands. In this case, as well as with other brands, it’s ultimately up to the consumer to decide what is most feasible for their current situation: college student may not be able to buy expensive ethical clothing when they’re on a tight budget.
It’s important that we support ethical brands, but it’s equally as important to push for a larger range of sizes to fit a wider variety of consumers. Fashion should not be exclusively for size XS-L, but brands that push for inclusivity should give us hope for the future of fashion.
Alyssa Kelly is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.