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, but 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!
I’m going to get to the list in a minute, but if you got this far and you’re not totally sure why fair trade matters or what fair trade is, please do check out my previous post on what fair trade is and why it’s important! It’ll give you all the background you need to understand why I’m so passionate about ethical clothing brands and why I’d 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, really dangerous and fair trade knows it, so 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 in terms of making simple, not-too-dated pieces that we can enjoy 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!
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’re specialized in wholesale, so they offer solid t-shirts in various colours that you can have custom printed (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 some clothing is made of fair trade cotton, but was not made into fabric and sewn 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 supplier of mine and a member of the Fair Trade Federation. They specialize in wool apparel in particular, but they’ve also got some other options. Some of my favourites are their fair trade fleece-lined hoodies and their light cotton hoodies! They also have an impressive selection of fair trade winter accessories like hats, mittens and socks, which you can check out in the store. (Unfortunately, they only sell directly to retailers, so you can only purchase their items through stores like mine and other fair trade carriers. To our knowledge, I’m the only one selling their items online, but please let me know if you know of others!)
etik & co.
It’s a fairly new company, but etik & co. is bringing fair trade, organic, vegan shoes to Canada, on top of carrying really great business casual options. This Quebec-based company carries low-tops and high-tops that are reminiscent of Converse shoes, so you know they’re going to be classics! And with their button-up shirts in solid colours, you can finally invest in some high-quality, neutral office wear that’s got the fair trade seal of approval! While you’re there, do make sure to check out their socks and backpacks, too. It’s worth noting that like I mentioned above with Green Campus Co-operative, etik & co. is also verifying the whole supply chain on their items, meaning they have some of the highest fair trade standards in Canada!
Another Quebec-based retailer, Pure Art is expanding their offerings of clothing, and they’re looking pretty good! You can pick up a really cute polka dot dress or super elegant tunic, both of which would fit well into most feminine wardrobes. I really love how they’re carrying pretty classic items that will last for years to come, and that can be mixed and matched with various clothing. This is how we make sure that fair trade fashion is super wearable and make as much difference as possible!
Laundromat Fair Trade
Laundromat Fair Trade 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!
Ten Thousand Villages
A true legend in fair trade in its own right, Ten Thousand Villages Canada has really stepped up its fair trade fashion game in recent years! Where before you’d usually see mostly accessories, they have a whole collection of super cute dresses, tops, skirts and even shorts available in attractive styles. Many of them are classic pieces that can get along with much of your existing wardrobe for years to come, so definitely worth checking out!
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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