I'm really passionate about slow fashion and sustainable clothing, and you can bet that's one of the common topics you'll be seeing regularly around here (without too much redundancy!) Because the fact of the matter is, if you want to live eco-consciously and sustainably, it's so important to be mindful of your clothing. Consider this: "Fast fashion" is the second biggest polluting industry, a significant contributor to microplastics in the ocean and, of course, human suffering and exploitation.
As a mom of 3 (soon to be 4) on a frugal budget, I completely understand the need for affordable and stylish clothing because children grow so quickly, and the cost of raising a family is increasing. Popular fast fashion companies such as Shein, Patpat, Wish etc. are on the rise. While their "social responsibility" pages may paint a pretty picture, dig a little deeper. You will see the statements regarding their commitments against "unethical labour" are not only untrue, but the "child labour laws" in the countries they operate in (China included) vary significantly, making their corporate statements/promises pretty meaningless in the context of Western expectations. And let's be realistic, do you really think a $5 dress can be ethically made?
10 years ago, I didn't know any better either. I shopped at H&M, Winners, Modcloth and Boutique 1861. My closet was filled with beautiful (not always cheap) clothing that were mostly made in factories from synthetic materials. My goal is always to educate and not shame anyone because we are all a work in progress and need to support one another to know better and do better. While it's tempting to lavish our children with a big haul of new clothes, we can put that love and care instead into efforts to leaving this planet a better one for our children.
I always hear the argument "but the cost savings!" But when you buy cheap, fast fashion, SOMEONE ELSE pays the price (usually poor children in another country), and the effects on the planet (pollution and microplastics) mean WE ALL PAY.
Here's the thing, ethically made clothing is more expensive; there is no doubt about that because someone was paid a living wage to make them, and usually from more sustainable materials. But that doesn't need to be a deterrent at all! Buying ethical and sustainable clothing is possible even on the most frugal budget - I promise! Here are my top tips below.
Quality over quantity, or in other words - less is more!
Get a capsule wardrobe going! So you buy a couple garments that are really good quality - and because they don’t fall apart, you’ll be able to get a lot of wear, and then pass them on or re-sell them to recover some of your costs.
You may get some sticker shock at the prices here, but again keep in mind: LESS is more, these clothes will last. The linen and wool materials are durable, stain resistant AND dry very quickly (I may possibly devote an entire blog post to why we love linen!)
Also: SHOP THEIR SALES. Almost all of these labels below have seasonal sales that'll see the prices reduced by 30-50% (sometimes more).
Our Favourite sustainable + ethically made in Canada brands
Organic Clothing for Babies and Kids
Simple, comfy, timeless unisex organic cotton essentials. Handmade ethically and sustainably in Toronto. Kind to people + kind to the planet.
Organic (linen and cotton) line of clothing for children ranging from 1 to 7 years of age. The collection is a modern take on timeless silhouettes. Designed and made in Vancouver, Canada.
100% Linen made in Canada children's clothing that are gender neutral, timeless, and will last through many years and children.
Luxuriously soft, made from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton. I'm not a fan of their colours/patterns (we prefer earthy, soft and neutral) but their prices are very affordable and the quality is good.
Ethically handcrafted children's wear made in small batches from new and reclaimed materials
Merino wool children's clothing and sleepwear for newborns to 8yrs. Eco-friendly, organic, ethical and sustainable. Designed and made in Victoria BC, Canada with pure New Zealand merino wool.
Organic Clothing for Babies, Kids and Mamas:
Ethical and affordable, handmade in Alberta, Canada, using high quality, natural fibres. Specialize in 100% linen, as well as linen/cotton fabric blends. Their core intention is to ethically source and produce garments that respect both humans and the planet.
100% pure Merino wool. Designed and made in Vancouver, Canada. Certified RWS (Responsible Wool Standard), which means that their sheep are treated responsibly and ethically. No chemicals are used during any process of making their garments.
Ethical Clothing labels - not made in Canada
Organic Clothing for Babies, Kids and Mamas:
Linen and cotton - earthy neutrals for women and children, produced slowly and kindly, with a focus on mindfully designed pieces together with five friends. Designs are brought to life by our small team of artisans in China who are SEDEX Members. Garments are made with natural organic fibres of the highest quality.
100% GOTS Organic merino wool and cotton clothing for families. Designed and Made in USA.
Earthy, timeless, sustainable, ethical and luxuriously soft, 100% organic linen and cotton clothing handmade with love in small batches in Portugal.
Organic Clothing for Mamas
100% linen women's clothing, handmade to order by a family of artisans in Lithuania.
For women, men and children. Handmade clothing from 100% washed linen, in a small studio in Slovakia.
Organic bohemian dresses, handmade and hand-loomed from raw and natural materials. Designed and ethically made in Bali.
P.S. Buy second-hand
Try local thrift stores, mom groups on social media, Facebook marketplace etc.
Mini-cycle: https://mini-cycle.com/ - preloved with a buyback program!
More to come...
On that note, I will be doing Part II soon which will consist of more brands we love and recommend! And personal reviews/photos of sustainable women's clothing labels (yes, photos of me wearing them so you can see what they look like on an actual mama - not a model).
Also, I purposely left out brands such as Engel, Disana and Hocosa, which our children lived in, because that is being saved for a special "how-to-do base layers" blog post coming closer to the Autumn.
P.S. Do you have any favourites to recommend? Drop me a comment below 💛