People ask me all the time what my top picks are when it comes to fair trade clothing brands. In the UK, there are tons, and I’m even seeing quite a few pop up in the US. Unfortunately, Canada doesn’t have nearly the same visibility. So today we’re going to change that! These are (in no particular order) my top 6 fair trade clothing brands in Canada. And in case you’re like me and love the convenience of online shopping, they’re all available for purchase online, too!
If you’re not sure why fair trade matters or what fair trade is, please check out fair trade vs free trade (conventional trade): what’s the difference? It’ll give you the background you need to understand why I’m so passionate about ethical clothing brands. Why else would I do a whole post just on fair trade fashion? 🙂
Now, I’m going to be super honest right now. Fair trade fashion has a bit of a reputation. If you’ve looked into it before, you may have heard words like hippie, boho, frumpy, and even ugly. So I’m well aware that fair trade doesn’t have the most stellar reputation when it comes to stylish clothing. And partly, that’s because fast fashion is really dangerous and fair trade knows it. That means staying on top of the very latest trend isn’t the top priority by any means.
So how do we have fair trade clothing that we actually like while also avoiding fast fashion?
Keeping it classic, that’s how.
So today I’m going to list brands that are doing great work, as in making simple, not-too-dated pieces. That way, we can enjoy them as part of a more sustainable wardrobe for years to come!
So without further ado let’s get into the Canadian fair trade clothing brands!
Actually American but a true legend in fair trade in its own right, Maggie’s Organics has been making fair trade socks since 1992! From its inception, Maggie’s has been making sure to treat their workers fairly, and source their materials ethically. These days, you can get so much more than socks from Maggie’s, including summer essentials like leggings, athletic shorts and cute tank tops! They’re all made with organic cotton and have GOTS certification, to make sure that the environmental protections and social impact are as great as possible! Until recently, you could only buy Maggie’s in the USA. But now I’ve brought them to Canada because their clothing is so essential! Check out the Maggie’s section in the store!
Green Campus Co-operative
I have a real soft spot for Green Campus Co-operative, because they’re the ones who made my fair trade pineapple t-shirts possible! They specialize in wholesale, so they offer solid t-shirts in various colours that you can custom print (usually in bulk—they typically sell to campus groups and such). They source Fairtrade Certified t-shirts from Chetna Organics in India, which are verified throughout the whole supply chain. You see, sometimes clothing is labeled fair trade because it was cut and sewn fair trade, but the cotton producer didn’t receive a fair wage for his cotton. Or companies use fair trade cotton, but don’t make it into fabric and sew it fairly, for example. But Green Campus Co-operative is making sure that everyone along the way is treated according to fair trade standards, which is what true sustainability looks like!
Ark Imports is another great company that sources from Nepal, and they’re a member of the Fair Trade Federation. They specialize in wool apparel in particular, but they’ve also got some other options. One of my favourites is their Jane Tunic in teal (also available in black)! They’re also the makers of some of our best-selling winter accessories like hats, mittens and socks, which we typically only carry in the winter months.
Conscious Step is available in Canada through stores like Rosette. They specialize in Fairtrade organic cotton socks, and they even donate proceeds to awesome causes with the sale of every pair. Sure, they only make socks, but having tried them on myself, they’re some of the coziest socks you’ll ever wear and they’re made to last a long time, too!
The Anchal Project
The Anchal Project is doing great work by not only providing crucial income for skilled makers in India, they also have an impressive sustainability mandate. This includes making cute scrunchies and stuffies out of the ends from their apparel line, as well as using only upcycled saris or organic cotton. Their most popular lines include their vintage kantha quilts, bags and more, which upcycle saris into items like makeup bags and quilt throws that add a beautiful splash of colour to the home! But we also happily carry some of their accessories: colour block scarves, kantha scrunchies and zipper pouches (pencil cases and coin purses).
Lost Horizons sells very high-quality, hand-knit garments that are really good accent pieces! Not everything has to be neutral, and Laundromat is great for those pieces that you want to have slightly more character to them. My personal favourites are the fall-weight sweaters and the skirts, which would make amazing accent pieces with an existing wardrobe! Beautifully hand-knit by a fair trade Nepali artisan group, the story alone makes these pieces beautiful. It’s just an added bonus that they’re Fall chic as well!
So what do you think? Has fair trade fashion redeemed itself yet from its reputation for being only fit for hippies? Would you wear these brands of ethical, sustainable, slow fashion? Let me know in the comments!
I, for one, am really glad these fine folks are making strides towards a better future, one beautiful garment at a time!
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