Ever since I was little, I have always loved clothes. I loved dressing up in my mom’s old clothes from the 80s and 90s.
I love dressing up for the day. I love using these pieces of fabric to express myself and how I am feeling. This is not to say that my fashion choices have always been good (hello junior high), but I have always enjoyed it just the same.
Additionally, I have always had a passion for human rights, equality, and fairness.
Since I was young, I knew that I was going to dedicate my life to helping people. I spent my childhood reading about individuals who are mistreated because of their gender, religion, sexuality, or color of their skin, and I was heartbroken. I knew I wanted to do something.
Then came 2014. I heard about this girl who also loved fashion but wanted to use it to channel her passion for human rights. I heard about women all around the world donning their dresses for the month of December to raise awareness and funds to try and end human trafficking. I was overjoyed; this was the combination of both of my passions!
With my mom, sisters, and some friends, I joined the Dressember movement.
It was such a wonderful experience. Every day that month, I used dresses to express myself; I used my dresses to show my passion for women, dignity, and human rights.
But I felt like a hypocrite.
Here I was, trying to educate people on modern-day slavery, but I was using modern-day slavery to do so. I knew that the people who made my clothes were mistreated. I knew they worked in horrible conditions with little to no pay. And I exploited these people every time I went into my favorite stores: places like H&M, Old Navy, and Forever 21. But the cheap price tags connected to my new clothes were enough for me to forget that. I could go in and purchase new clothes without putting too much of a dent in my wallet. I liked that. It was easy.
Come January, I was filled with so much hope. In only a month, women had raised so much to try and fight sex slavery. We had used our dresses for good. I was encouraged, and I did a lot of research in 2015 on the fashion industry, laws on factories in different countries, and the people who were making my clothes. However, the low prices kept drawing me back to those stores.
December 2015 I participated in Dressember again. And like the year before, it encouraged me. I thought, if I could make a small difference in this world by wearing a dress every day for a month, maybe I could make a small difference with what I wear year round.
So, in January of 2016, I made a personal commitment to ONLY shop ethically.
Through this minor change, I was standing up to say that the exploitation and mistreatment of people for the benefit of fashion and easiness was not okay.
I learned a lot that first year. Before, if I needed new socks, or tights, or a plain white tee, I could just pop into the nearest Target. But with this new change, I would spend hours researching different brands and their ethical practices, comparing the different morals and mission statements of each company. It was hard, but that only encouraged me to continue what I was doing.
This should not be hard.
We should be able to go to the nearest store and find ethically made socks, and I am excited for the day that that will happen. But for now, I will search and search and boycott the brands that do not treat their workers with fairness. Because no pair of socks is worth more than a human being.
Come Dressember 2016, I had so many beautiful new pieces to wear, all purchased ethically!
My style was even more me than before, as I was able to find such unique items on my journey. My definition of ethical shopping expands beyond buying new articles. Purchasing second-hand clothing helps lower the number of items that are tossed into landfills and helps fight the culture of wasteful "fast fashion." In this search of second-hand items, I stumbled into the world of vintage clothes. I found that vintage fashion suits me so well! I was so happy to wear my ethical pieces that Dressember.
As the new year rolled around, my style continued to evolve and change. 90% of the pieces in my closet were ethically purchased, and the unique items caused a lot of questions from friends, classmates, and even strangers! People would ask me, “where did you get that?” and I loved to use that opportunity to share not only where I purchased it, but why.
Over time, I would get texts and emails from people, asking me to share the tips I've learned along the way as well as different brands, thrift stores, and vintage shops that I like. I was so excited that people were curious about ethical fashion. As I received more and more inquiries, I decided to make a platform where I could share tips, resources, and my recent ethical finds. Thus was born @ethicalfashiononabudget on Instagram.
I have had the page for about two months now, and I am so happy by the little community that has formed of people who are interested in human rights and ethical fashion choices.
I can’t wait to see where it goes, and if this little Instagram page encourages just one more person to change their shopping habits, it will be a dream come true. Because... as I said:
No pair of socks is worth more than a human being.
- Dani Kennelly
Some resources (Click links to SHOP!)
The Good Trade is a great recourse. Here one can find so many different brands that are ethical!
Some of my personal favorite ethical companies:
Some of my favorite (LA based) thrift stores/consignment shops:
Some of my favorite etsy shops:
● Pickwick Vintage Show (vintage pop up- 4 times a year in Burbank)