Youth in the Ethical Trade Movement

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Ethical is defined as “done in line with moral principles” ethical trade is the same, it is when suppliers or retailers, make sure those working in the name of manufacturing their goods are treated morally and fairly, and the product is made with the same values in mind.

There has been definite rise in the accessibility of ethically made goods, with this we see awareness of Fast Fashion growing, along with an effort, to see it’s eventual cease. Fast Fashion, is the abundance of mass produced labels, whose goods are made away from ethical principal. We are seeing that the fashion industry is making an effort, to end the exploitation of those working in developing countries in the name of mass production and fast fashion.

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More and more companies are entering the mainstream as ethical, brands like Kowtow, Tribe Alive and Future Glory are examples of this, the conversation about ethical trade is alight, with voices, however my role here, is to talk, to youth.

Because we have a role in this movement and as I have read and googled and read some more about the ethical trade movement, specially ethical clothing, for this post. I have been cemented in using my voice to share with you, what we can do and what I have learned.  About this movement.

You might be thinking, what does this have to do with me. Well you, could’ve been that woman working in horrific conditions.

Would you want someone to fight for you, if you were that woman? We’re lucky enough to have a voice, to manifest in action and fight for those who are voiceless.

So lets talk about what youth can do.

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Buy Less Choose Well. 

As a kid, we didn’t really get to decide what we wore, but as we get older and go out shopping, develop a style. We do get to decide, and when a top is $5 it is easy to think, I will just save money and buy a few of these. The reason that top is so cheap, is because of fast fashion, those who made this top, got paid next to nothing and made hundreds like it.

The top, you can buy in high quantity because it is low quality.

As you make the choices for what you buy, the question you must ask is do I want to have quality or quantity. 



Because, brands like Kowtow do cost more, to buy a garment, but that is simply because; it is of high quality and morally made. One garment, will last you years, which in the long run saves you money, because you do not have to go out, and replace $5 top after $5 top.

Choose garments, of good quality, that you can use constantly as you get older and you make more choices about what you wear, think of which Q you would like to be a supporter of.

Quality or Quantity. Because one empowers its maker, the other degrades her. 

When you’re looking in the mirror, wearing that garment, think not just about how it looks, but who made it.

It wouldn’t be in my best interest to mention brands specifically, however if you’re unsure, what brands are not considered ethical, use the internet and do research before you shop, about where you shop. Many platforms exist online, such as the Fabric Social and Eth-ics which work to show you, ethical clothing labels; similar platforms exist to show you unethical brands.

As well as using the internet, to further your knowledge. Think about pricing if a full price pair of jeans in the local mall, is $15.00 then the price obviously doesn’t reflect, a well made garment, or an ethically paid worker. It rather reflects Fast Fashion.

It will cost more, but that is because it is worth more. Buy Less Choose Well.


The amount of water it takes to make a pair of jeans is equal to 285 showers. Fancy a pair of recycled jeans? – The Global Fashion exchange. 

Mud Jeans is a sustainable fashion organisation, you can buy or lease their jeans as long as you return them at the end of use, they’re cutting down on resources and reusing valuable materials, basically they’re winning!

By shopping at op shops or recycling clothes, you too can win. Because even if a garment isn’t necessarily made ethically, buying from op shops, or recycling clothes, instead of buying new, means a garment lasts longer. A longer life span means, that the materials of the garment are being valued, resources are being cut down, because less garments made is equal to less materials used; and the prevalence of the unethical fashion industry is slowly lessened. Because less purchases are being made.

They’re are lots of awesome op shops in Auckland, like Tattys which sell mint clothes. Recycling, helping the quest for ethical trade further in accessibility and buying mint clothes. Everyone wins. 

Another thing you could do is clothes swaps with your friends, because we all have a least one friend the same size as us, if you’re over a piece of clothing, or want something new. You could do a clothes swap with a friend, you both get something new to you and help the ethical clothing industry continue to flourish.

Fancy a pair of recycled jeans. Yeah ya do! 

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She Made This – has been absolutely epic in helping me write this post. They have empowered me just as, buying and selling ethically made and fair trade products empowers the creators, the people, who make what we purchase. She Made This – We Bought it.

The quest for Ethical Trade isn’t just about buying and selling ethical products. More accessibly.

It is also about empowering the creators of these products, giving creators an opportunity and furthering, the self confidence of these creators. To know their worth and greatness.

You aren’t just buying a dress, when you buy ethically, you are buying a dress that gives a woman in a developing country an opportunity to support her family, adequately. When you buy a bag or a basket, that was made by someone paid fairly, you are getting a high quality product that is worth the money, but also shows the creator their worth.

Ethical purchase of clothes and products, are not just clothes and products; rather they are clothes and products that also work to do something. Make change, breed empowerment. When you recycle clothes, or do clothes swaps, when you buy from op shops, you are not doing these things, just for ethical reasons. You are doing it, so you can make a statement, that you will not purchase from companies, that devalue their workers, degrade their workers.

We have the power, because we can all do something. I am here, to empower you. So we can empower the creators of these products, the workers. Together.

I totally recommend reading the Mainstream Detox Post Series they’re currently doing. For a more in depth look into ethical fashion.


Think about your fashion. Youth have a role in this movement.


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