Like many people, I was devastated by the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh - over 1,000 people died and many more were injured. I started to question how I might be personally responsible for this disaster. In a global market, our consumption has widespread impacts with no accountability.
Although I am not a "shopper" (meaning, I find little joy in cruising stores and buying things for myself or my home), I do need to buy clothes for my growing children. Of course we rely on used and hand-me-downs when we can, but sometimes new is necessary (and funny story - my oldest has inherited a shopping gene that must have skipped a generation. She loves cruising the mall!)
I love this article by Annie from PhD in Parenting, which argues that a boycott of all clothing from certain parts of the world will do more harm than good. Because really, how do you know that clothing made in countries outside of Bangladesh is any better?
I started to do research on how I could invest in clothing that was ethical - from companies that engaged in transparent communication about where and how the clothing was made. I got a lot of great information from Emily over at The Best of This Life, and I'm highlighting 4 companies that would be a good option for parents who want to become more ethical consumers.
Michael and Uli Belenky's first daughter Sofia arrived in 1989. Uli, a designer and art director, and Michael, a professional photographer, saw an opportunity in the children's clothing options available at the time, and went on to create their first line for Zutano. The company is still located in Vermont today, and the clothing is made in a family-owned factory in Macau - the connection between the company and manufacturer is a close one, with both families having raised their own children from newborns to adults together.
We've mentioned this company several times on the blog, and we've had the pleasure of meeting the owner and local sales representative Vicky Bisson. Peekaboo Beans is uniquely Canadian, with a focus on practical clothing that promotes children's play. They're transparent about their manufacturing process (clothing is made in China), and you can even view pictures of where the clothing is made on their website. Again, relations between the company and the manufacturer are close, giving a much better guarantee that standards are being met.
3) Tomat Kids
Tomat's clothing is made from 100% certified organic cotton, and graphics are printed by hand using water-based silk-screened ink. Clothing is manufactured in LA, in a sweat-free shop. "Tomat" is Indonesian for tomato, and captures the fun look of the clothing line.
Of course, purchasing clothing from the States and having it shipped to Canada may not be your cup of tea. H&M is accessible to us here in Ottawa, and if you shop carefully, you can support their Conscious clothing line which are "good for people, the planet and your wallet." There are several commitments made by the company when it comes to this line, including the adoption of the UN's Human Rights policy. The one drawback is that the clothing is scattered throughout the stores - you have to be careful to read the labels.
Do you have a favourite children's clothing line?