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Since this year almost is coming to an end and te new year is already showing some skin, it was about time I thought about a new challenge.

Remember last years five piece french wardrobe challenge? Well it worked out pretty good but in summer I started slipping again. Several ideas came to mind. Me and my friend where thinking about not shopping at all for a year, bon courage Marie but I probably can not do that.

Why am I doing these challenges? It’s about being conscious, ethical and ecological and to find a way to make it your lifestyle instead of doing somenthing for only a year. With American Apparel slapping the words sweatshop-free in your face all the time I started thinking about the importance of these sweatshop-free brands.

The little research I’ve done yet showed me that it’s not common at all that a brand is transparant. This meaning that a brand tells you where the clothes are made, by who, in which circumstances but also where the fabrics are produced and so much more. Most company policies claim they are ethical but most of the times they are only talking about a part of the production chain. Honest By founded by Bruno Pieters is one of those rare initiatives that really gives total transparency. You can find everything on their website from production to initial cost of the product and how much they gain on it.
If you need examples of sweatshop brands I can give you thousands but the most known ones are Apple (yes that Iphone comes with a price) and Primark but also H&M and other high street brands aren’t free of guilt.

My goal? Finding brands who are (more or less) sweatshop-free and hopefully not only very expensive. My very superficial research has learned me that there’s not just a list with brands so hopefully this will not result in only shopping at American Apparel.

What does sweathop-free really mean?

Sweatshop-free or sweat free is a term first brought up by American Apparel which means coercion-free products and fair-compensation for the garment workers who manufacture their products. The aim of sweatshop-free is to ensure that all employees are treated fairly and products are made in good working conditions. Sweatshop-free standards include the right to collective bargaining, non-poverty wages, safe workplaces, back wages, and non-harassment. It has been heavily featured in American Apparel’s advertisements and become a common term in the garment industry.

How to start a challenge like this.

Well, I really have no clue where to start but I’m sure Mr. Google will help me out a lot. My plan of approach:
1. Do my research and find some brands that are on one hand sweatshop-free and also affordable.
2. Double check brands that claim to be ethical.
3. Rethink everything I want to buy a thousand times.

How strict can you really be?

At this point I really have no idea if a challenge like this is even realistic for someone with my budget but since the other option was not shopping at all, this should be possible. In my opinion the most interesting thing about this challenge is that I can really research all kind of brands an probably will do a lot of unexpected discoveries. For example did you know that Louis Vuitton for example scores extremely low on the eco-friendly and ethical scale because they don’t want to communicate about their production at all. Also the ‘Made in Italy’ sign loses all meaning when you discover that in the Tuscan town of Prato 25,000 low-wage workers, mostly from China, make ‘luxury’ goods. But also a question I ask myself a lot is if there’s a difference between COS, & Other Stories and H&M next to the quality?

More of that will follow soon but for now I will keep doing research and keep you updated!

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