As a counterbalance to the amount of floral I've been posting lately, I thought I'd show off the ready-for-work sweater I recently snagged from the ethical fashion lineEverlane. Unique among the other ethical companies I've researched, Everlane operates under a "radical transparency" model that urges customers to know their factories and question the true costs of the clothes they purchase. Everlane's website makes this easy by offering detailed profiles of each of their partner factories, from their sandal factory in Los Angeles to their cashmere factory in Dongguan, China. Developing personal relationships with the owners allows Everlane to closely monitor each factory's working conditions and overall integrity.
Made in China, and that's ok
Everlane is one of the only ethical companies I've found that carries elegant basics like crew neck sweaters, cardigans, and silk blouses. This is a big deal, because until now I've relied almost exclusively on J. Crew to complete my work wardrobe. Everlane has also inspired me to broaden my definition of what I consider ethical fashion. When I first began searching for ethical options, my criteria was limited to clothing that was fair trade or made in the USA, UK, Italy, or other "first world" country with stringent workplace standards. To be honest, I developed a mild disdain for anything with a "Made in China" label. This reaction (er, snobbery) wasn't entirely without warrant: many designer labels produce their clothes in China for a low cost in poor working conditions and mark their prices up wildly by the time they reach the consumer. "Made in China" has become synonymous with cheap and disposable, and many higher-end labels do their best to draw attention away from where their products are made, even if they do have strict workplace standards in place. This is a shame, because China has some of the most advanced machinery and talented garment workers in the world. There's a reason my vintage Coach bag has held up for so many years: it was made really well to begin with.
I support shopping and sourcing locally whenever possible, but it's short-sighted to ignore the talent and resources available overseas. It simply needs to be tapped responsibly, and I'm happy to support companies like Everlane that are committed to doing so.