Dear Umbra,

I need some new clothes! But besides shopping consignment and used clothing shops and hunting through labels looking for “Made in USA” tags, are there online sources of organic- or sustainable-fabric clothes that are guaranteed sweatshop-free? I would not mind investing in some decent duds that look nice and last.

Lorna Vogt
Salt Lake City, Utah

Dearest Lorna,

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Yes! I’m going to mention a few, and I know dozens of my dear readers will write in to Gristmill chiding me for omitting others, so keep track there.

Absolutely fabulous — and not a
sweatshop in sight.

Photo: Romp.

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But first, if you haven’t visited, get thy hemp-clad self there. This “green lifestyle” site enlightens about all manner of current and future innovations, without trying to sell you anything. You will find its clothing section particularly useful, whether you’re after underwear made from seaweed or the latest news in shoes.

Now, on to those making the wares. Patagonia has been a leader in developing low-impact clothing. The company has a sizable organic cotton collection and fleece made from recycled soda bottles. It’s also a founding member of the growing Fair Labor Association. (Check out a Grist interview with eco-groovy Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard.)

Another conscientious couturier is American Apparel, which manufactures a line of hip (mayhap too hip?) cotton clothing in downtown Los Angeles. AA’s mission is to develop sweatshop-free garments, made in the United States, with a business model focused on fair wages and well-treated employees. It has a small line of organic cotton clothing — also hip, but only in white thus far. Won’t work for spill-magnets like me.

As conscientious clothing companies go, Patagonia and AA are sizable. Smaller designers and manufacturers around the world also use ecological and socially responsible techniques and materials, and this is where the web yet again proves its usefulness. MADE-BY, Gossypium, Romp, and Linda Loudermilk, to randomly mention a few, are helping to drive an interesting new movement of stylish green clothing.

Ooh, I’m getting excited. Combine a little “Patagucci” and a hand-sewn purse made from your own T-shirt with secondhand treasures, and you’ll have a knockout look that will turn even pollutocrat heads!


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