So, you’ve read about the environmental and social damages of fast fashion and the failure of retailers or factories to adequately improve working conditions and you’ve decided to make the leap into more conscious consumerism.

But, you’re bombarded with confusing information, nervous that slow fashion pieces will put you over budget, or just don’t know where to begin. Well, have no fear, Mata is here!  We gathered advice from around the office and we are sharing some of our favorite tidbits to help guide you on your journey into ethical fashion!

1.) I think one of the easiest ways to start learning about and understanding fair trade is as simple as looking at your own clothing labels and finding out where things were made. How far back can you trace it? –Kacey, Sales Manager

2.) Figure out what issues are important to you, such as: the environment, child labor, fair wages, good working conditions, etc. and research companies that satisfy those requirements. – Lizzy, Production Intern

3.) In the beginning, shopping ethically doesn’t have to be about replacing your existing stuff, it can just be about slowing down your support for less ethical companies. Take baby steps by not letting yourself make unconscious choices – just because a store has new clothes every week doesn’t mean you need to buy them. Ask yourself if you’ll still want the item in two years. – Katie, Graphic Designer & Community Manager

4.) You can start small. You don’t have to try to change everything you buy all at once. Start by looking at your closet – what items do you reach for the most? When it comes to spending a little more on clothing for a bit better quality and ethical practices, I’d start with the pieces you wear most frequently. – Katrin, Marketing Intern

5.) Living frugally is a MUST. One of the main driving forces of unethical production of goods is our obsession with materialism and changing fashions. When you’ve decided there is something you want to buy, try checking if there is a comparable ethical or eco-friendly alternative first. Also try to buy classic pieces that are of quality and can last you for years.  – Shannon, Sales Intern

6.) One tip that has worked for me is to really think about what you wear. Be more “plan- full” with your wardrobe (i.e., Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up), especially for those women in the corporate world. So you can splurge on one or two wardrobe additions every season, but have staples that are more versatile–all can be done within fair trade fashion. – Chris, Managing Director

7.) Build up your “Go-to Brands” list. One of the reasons people don’t shop ethically is because it’s not as easy as shopping fast fashion. So spend an hour or two investigating some brands you like and make a list. Then when you are looking for something you don’t need to spend time investigating what’s out there. You’ll already have a little list to refer to! – Katie, Graphic Designer & Community Manager

8.) Visit websites and blogs like the Fair Trade Federation, The Good TradeLife+Style+Justice, and Sustainably Chic to find out about some of the more popular socially conscious brands. Follow your favorite brands on social media to find out about deals or prizes and also to see what other brands they may partner with who may interest you. – Macaira, Fulfillment Assistant

9.) In terms of buying practices, shopping vintage and second-hand is an accessible and budget-friendly way to tiptoe into ethical shopping. – Kacey, Sales Manager

10.) If money is the issue, sign up for email lists and wait for the sales. Most companies have them, and there’s no harm in waiting until something you can afford comes along. – Katie, Graphic Designer & Community Manager

Fair trade rug from West Elm that Mata’s founder, Maureen, bought on sale!


Have your own piece of advice on shopping responsibly for us and our readers? Feel free to share any tips you have in the comment section!