Following the increased interest in wearing feminism-inspired clothes, big name brands like Forever 21 and H&M have begun capitalizing off of activism with trendy, but unethical, apparel. These brands often outsource production to overseas sweatshops with dangerous working conditions and unfair wages, or use cheap prison labor where inmates are heavily exploited. Nothing about the way these capitalist brands exploit workers is feminist, making it counterproductive and unethical to buy from them. To read a more in-depth analysis on the dangers of supporting these companies, click here.
But don’t worry! There are still ways to get all the clever, feminist apparel your heart desires without supporting brands that exploit low wage workers. Many small businesses have taken it upon themselves to create guilt-free feminist apparel, in which every part of the process is aligned with feminism. These brands truly practice what they preach:
This Afro-Latina run business has gained immense popularity in the social justice community, as well as with celebrities looking to support ethical, small business. GreenBox Shop produces 100% free trade T-shirts and other various items (like some really awesome water bottles). Several notable celebrities have supported their apparel, from Frank Ocean at Panorama Music Festival to Zendaya on her Snapchat story and Twitter. If you’re a fan of bold feminist quotes, definitely check out GreenBox Shop.
Aurora Lady was started by a free-spirited, young woman with a passion for social justice and art. With this brand, the two have become one. All T-shirts by Aurora Lady are handmade by the founder and artist herself. The great thing about purchasing from businesses run by freelance artists, such as Aurora Lady, is that you avoid supporting large businesses that have a sick reputation for stealing art and designs from freelance artists. If you’re looking for a unique piece, why not buy directly from the source?
Hearing about a company run by disability advocates is incredibly exciting. Disability advocacy is often left out of the discussion when it comes to mainstream feminism, so being able to purchase this apparel is a real treat! The mission of We Exist Collective is to give disabled advocates a platform for their voices to be heard as well as helping prevent the erasure of the disabled community. We Exist Collective currently sells anti-ableism pins and T-shirts that can be purchased through their advocacy site.
What better name for a feminist apparel company than “Feminist Apparel”? Feminist Apparel is an independently run business based in Philadelphia and a self-described “Feminism 101 shop.” This brand uses 100% ethical, fair trade and environmentally cautious T-shirts so you can rest assured that you won’t be supporting sweatshop labor. In addition to T-shirts, the shop also includes fun accessories like socks, pins, and totes. All designs are produced originally by the company or submitted by freelance artists who are given a portion of the pay. They also have a unique feature on their site where you can choose to Shop By Cause, if you feel invested in a certain movement. Overall, Feminist Apparel is a wonderful place to look if you want variety, quality, and uniqueness.
If brands that truly support intersectional feminism is what makes your heart sing, Femininitees is your go to. Featuring a wage gap T-shirt that is customizable by race (meaning the amount of cents you make to a white man’s dollar will change), Femininitees recognizes that “equal pay is not only a gender issue but a racial one as well“. Another great thing about buying one of their shirts is that a portion of the proceeds goes directly to supporting the National Organization for Women.
While there are hundreds and hundreds of ethical vendors where feminism apparel may be purchased, it’s important to do your research to make sure that you are willing to morally support all steps in the manufacturing process. Each brand is different. By supporting small businesses run by original creators, power is taken away from unethical corporations. Happy shopping!