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Is Ethical Fashion Expensive? | A Discussion

By November 8, 2017 Ethical

For the past week or so I’ve been trying my hardest to put this piece together and have it make actual, logical sense. I wanted to start straight off the bat by saying that ethical fashion isn’t expensive and explain from that point onwards. However, upon writing and re-writing (three times!) and discussing it with others, I’ve come to the conclusion that this topic just isn’t that simple, even if I can see it that way myself.

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

At first, I believed that my own experience of consuming ethical and sustainable fashion was a prime example of debunking the myth of a fair wardrobe being completely inaccessible but even I have to admit that I have certain privileges which make it a whole easier to fathom. I’m all about honesty around here; there’s no such thing as being overly transparent.

If I were to say that I don’t add new items to my wardrobe regularly, that wouldn’t be the whole truth. From time to time, I do fill up the gaps in my wardrobe but often I don’t have to pay the expense because I write this blog and am trusted to receive samples and gifted items in order to promote brands which are doing good work.

This isn’t often, which makes the ‘regularly’ part of the statement correct but it still happens; I can’t deny that and nor would I want to – I love fashion. I would expect you do too if you’re reading this.

If I were to also say that the prices of the brands I promote are realistic for people my age or even just the average person who might come across my blog, that wouldn’t be the whole truth either because without the privileges I receive from writing and working my socks off around here, I can hands down say I wouldn’t be wearing a People Tree jumpsuit or a recycled denim choker that costs almost £30 (although, that People Tree jumpsuit has definitely made me realise how worthy their clothes are of an investment).

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

It goes back to the good work they’re doing – I want to show that it’s being done instead of clinging on to the brand names I no longer appreciate. (Bear in mind, I recently turned down an ethical directory feature request because I deemed the brand to be too expensive for my readers. I’m happy with the balance I’ve found.)

If I were to say that second-hand shopping is the best way around any price-based or moral dilemma, that once again wouldn’t be the whole truth because I’m a slim 17-year-old and I’m fortunate most charity shops are filled with viable options for me.

I can’t confirm nor deny whether people of different sizes do genuinely struggle when on the hunt in these scenarios (I often find many more larger sizes, especially in UK stores) but I’m happy to admit I’ve probably been lucky on more than one occasion.

I’m excluding looking for workwear, children’s wear or necessary purchases within this and the rest of my discussion – I’m not about to start saying we should be buying bras and underwear from our local Oxfam (although, good on you if you do) or that a young family of four should all of a sudden stop buying new clothes for their fast-growing kids (my nephews wear mostly second-hand clothes but there’s no way they could go without new shoes or re-purchases here and there).

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

So, what can I say that for the most part, strips away privilege, anything to do about the way we look at ethical options as an ‘investment’ and the idea of conscious consumerism and changing our shopping habits?

Well, it goes back to what a lot of my past blog posts used to revolve around – the facts and figures that show what we’re paying, isn’t what we should be paying if we want to acknowledge that the industry of fashion and the clothes we wear need to change.

The concept of fast-fashion (aka. the opposite of ethical, sustainable or slow fashion) originated in the 90s when the industry in the west discovered the opportunity to manufacturer clothing at a cheaper price and at a faster rate, allowing customers the chance to update and add to their wardrobe with fresh and new styles whilst saving money at the same time, and in-turn, producing more profit (it makes business sense, right?).

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

The majority of fashion manufacturing moved overseas, allowing brands to find cheap labour in developing countries. Quite simply, the demand grew, being supported by catwalks, the advertising industry and the new consumer expectation that we could have it all, whenever we wanted and for an amount, our purses would be happy with. This lead to more and more pressure being put upon the factories by the brands we grew to know and love. It’s why we saw the Rana Plaza disaster and the Tazreen factory fire.

Factories in developing countries aren’t built for the consumption of fast-fashion and nor is the supply chain. The cost of production means underpaid workers, poor working conditions, human rights violations and even child or forced labour that nobody would allow elsewhere.

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

All of these are consequences of the cheap, low prices that can be found on high-streets or online, and that’s not even including the affects this type of production puts on the planet and earth itself. It’s unsustainable and it’s unethical and there’s a reason why it’s cheap and why I don’t use the term very fondly around here.

Even if we’re not used to it and even if it will take years to change – we should be paying more which means ethical fashion, quite frankly, isn’t expensive in theory. It’s expensive in terms of price tag comparison (an ethical t-shirt could cost you £20-30 versus a fast-fashion alternative at £10) but the reason behind it is just and fair. It ensures that workers are paid fairly and that they work in safe environments, as well as often ensuring the use of sustainable and organic materials.

“But in the meantime, Tolly, how can I afford to buy new clothes at the same time as caring about where they come from? It seems impossible.”

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

This is where my favourite friend, Mindset, comes into play. Over-consumption goes hand-in-hand with the actual manufacturing of clothes and it isn’t helped by how we now see it being portrayed in front of our very own eyes. I know one YouTuber who has done eight different ‘haul’ videos in the past month.

I’m by no means accusing any of you of over-consuming but I think a lot of us can almost experience a sense of ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) by not owning a beret or a pair of heeled boots right now. I know I have!

We live in a society that thrives off of a culture of consuming the latest new “thing” (due to how #capitalism and the world of advertising works, as already mentioned) which is especially the case with fashion, with trends dipping in and out that not only affect our clothes but go on to change everything else around us.

Why Is Ethical Fashion Expensive

The more we understand that this behaviour and way of consuming isn’t necessary, the less money we’ll end up spending in shorter periods of time, allowing more room for those so-say more pricey purchases which will end up being more of an investment anyway. Cost-effectiveness is sustainable and beneficial especially if you’re on a tighter budget (again – parents or anyone with strict workwear policies, I’m not pointing at you).

For example, if you know a pair of unethically produced shoes which are currently in the fashionable charts, won’t last you as long as a more investable and ethically produced pair would; think about which is more worthwhile, not only for your wallet that may have to repurchase once the cheaper option has worn down but also for the planet and the people who are making them. For me, I don’t even question it anymore.

And if you can and you’re willing to try? Look in Oxfam or Goodwill or on Depop or eBay. Even if it takes you three times as long as looking on ASOS or scrolling through what Topshop has to offer – I promise you it will feel so much more satisfying when you’ve prolonged a perfectly wearable item’s lifespan. I recently welcomed in an old pair of cherry red Dr Martens and a suede coat most definitely not in my size but there’s nothing a new pair of innersoles and wearing something oversized can’t do!


As this title suggests, I want this to be a discussion so go forth and leave your thoughts in the comments!

Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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Relax, I Am Not the Ethical Police

By August 5, 2017 Ethical

The title of this post may sound familiar if you follow my Facebook page (you can do so by clicking here) as a while ago I brought up the matter in response to several messages I’d had from friends, family and people I knew online. Most of the messages had a similar theme – they were apologies for shopping fast-fashion.

Ethical Fashion Advice - Relax, I'm Not The Ethical Police

However, I’m putting it out there – I’m not the ethical police. Nor is anyone else who is an advocate for ethics and sustainability and moving the industry (and world) in a more positive direction. I’ve never come across anyone who has pointed out somebody’s wrong doings within this realm (unless it’s been pointed in the direction of a major brand or company as a whole) and I wouldn’t even necessarily jump to saying they’re ‘wrong doings’.

Of course, whatever I put out there into the world with promoting this new way of thinking – technically it’s not that new but awareness is still growing – in terms of conscious consumerism and how we wear our clothes, I do it all with the intent of trying to inspire others to do the same. It’s my goal.

I want you to listen to what I have to say and hopefully, in some respect, take it to heart. I believe we should be changing our ways. This isn’t something we can just sit back and ignore anymore. We have a duty, especially within my generation of younger people (it’s our future, folks), to make changes.

So yes, I will celebrate people who start to implement these ideas and changes because I understand that at first, it can seem daunting, as if you need to change everything you know in life in order to be conscious (I’m not over exaggerating here – I have seen people expressing how impossible it seems).

Ethical Fashion Advice - Relax, I'm Not The Ethical Police

But, will I ever call you out for going against all of this? No. Should you feel guilty about it? No. Why? Well… because four years ago I was cheering on the fact that Primark was stocked on ASOS and I wasn’t batting an eyelid to what brands sent me in the post to feature on my blog.

It takes time to adjust and it takes time to learn. I don’t want anyone to come to me feeling guilty or down because I’m no perfect example of anything, I’m just attempting to shine a light on the darkness of this industry. In fact, I may even give you a proud pat on the head if you ever confess to fast-fashion purchases because it shows how aware you are (although please refrain from doing so, as this post suggests). Having your eyes open and being honest with yourself is key in becoming more conscious and thoughtful in the way you live and shop, whether that be in fashion or elsewhere.

This post is simply to say – you can take a step back and relax if all of this ethical and sustainable jargon and information is getting you down in the dumps, or if you slipped up and indulged on something which doesn’t have a clear label on it. I want my blog to be a space where we’re not focusing on doing wrong; we’re focusing on doing better.

If you want some tips on how to do just that rather than worrying yourself into ethically-induced anxiety, then click some of the links below. They might be handy for if you’re new around here, too!

~ HANDY ETHICAL ADVICE ~


Do you feel inspired? If so, perhaps you might be interested in nominating Tolly Dolly Posh for an Observer Ethical Award. If you believe my commitment to ethical fashion is award winning, click this link and leave my name, link and a few words in the Young Green Leaders category. 

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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Slow Fashion by Safia Minney

By July 2, 2016 Ethical

I’m going to say something for the 1000th time when it comes to ethical and sustainable fashion; it’s really important to educate yourself.

Slow Fashion by Safia Minney Book Review


SLOW FASHION by Safia Minney


You might be aware of some of the issues surrounding the fashion industry these days, but how much do you really know about what’s being done to make changes? How many real life stories have you listened to? How do you know what to do as a consumer?

These are all questions you should be able to answer easily, but for a lot of people, it’s hard to answer them without saying, “I don’t know” or perhaps, “I don’t know enough to give you an answer”. So yes, I may have said it several times by now, but it really is important. We all need to learn more, so that we’re open and aware about what needs to change… a big emphasis on need, because it really does need to.

So, as a way to educate yourself, I’m going to introduce you to a book that I’ve just finished reading – “Slow Fashion” by founder and CEO of People Tree, Safia Minney. “Slow Fashion” is a book which explores the work which is being done to make the fashion industry more ethical and sustainable, as well inspiring entrepreneurs, creatives and consumers, to think differently and start to make change, no matter how big or small.

Safia has been running People Tree, a leading ethical and sustainable fashion brand for the past 25 years, working alongside designers like Zandra Rhodes to create exciting and ethical collections which not only help the people making them, but the environment and the earth.

Slow Fashion by Safia Minney Book Review

Slow Fashion by Safia Minney Book Review

One of the main themes throughout the book is something that I wanted to share with you, and is something that emphasises my point about educating yourself; small steps lead to bigger things. One of the best ways to explain this is through a quote (from the book) by actress and model, Lily Cole…

“Whenever I am given a choice, I try to make the right one.”

When you learn about some of the issues in the industry, you can be taken aback. For me personally, it was like something clicked and suddenly I had this whole new mind-set (thanks to the wonderful movie which is, The True Cost)… but there are cons to that happening. I ended up putting pressure on myself and started to rush things and try and reevaluate everything I knew before. Although now I see this as a pro, I basically stopped shopping altogether. I felt guilty whenever I wore clothes I knew were unethical, and I tried to change too much of what I could all at one time.

The reason I’m explaining this, is because Lily’s quote uses one specific word; try.

When we learn about all of these issues, for most of us, it’s hard to suddenly change everything. It’s hard to step out of what we can afford or what we are able to do immediately. But it is possible to do in the long run (though of course, the faster the better, as I said; things need to change) and that’s something we mustn’t forget.

Slow Fashion by Safia Minney Book Review

Slow Fashion by Safia Minney Book Review

It’s reassuring to read that even people who are making changes, aren’t always perfect. Sometimes it’s impossible. Not everyone has the freedom and privilege to purchase specifically ethical clothing due to the fact that it’s usually higher in price than normal run of the mill, high-street fashion (don’t forget though, second-hand and vintage clothing is an option). But being aware that there is a choice, is very valuable.

Walking into a shop and asking yourself whether you need an item, or whether you could find a better, more high quality option that will be more sustainable, is so important. And to loop it all back; being aware, means educating yourself, which is why I’m recommending this book.

At the same time as learning more about the issues and effects of fast-fashion and mass consumption, you can discover new brands and labels to shop from, some of which include: Goodsociety, Miss Green, Braintree, Armed Angels, MADE, LeJu, Joanna Cave and Quazi Design.

Slow Fashion by Safia Minney Book Review


Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion by Tansy E. Hoskins


You can also discover other books including the one photographed in this post, “Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion”. I’m only into Chapter 2 and it’s already highly insightful. It not only looks into fast-fashion (both on the high-street and on the catwalk), but it also covers topics like racism and body image. It’s a one of a kind book to add to your reading list! (I’ll be sure to review it when I’m finished).

Also through this book, I’ve discovered the film, “Udita” by Rainbow Collective. It’s an extraordinary and raw insight into the lives of the female factory workers in Bangladesh, most of whom were affected by the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013. One of the most touching moments in the film for me, is when one of the workers is explaining their desires and wishes for the future…

I wish people would buy clothes with a conscience. My desire is that what’s happening now will never be repeated. That people who are buying clothes abroad stop and think about how much they buy for it and how much is the true cost for us here.”

If the workers themselves are saying they wish we could shop with a conscience, then surely that’s enough for us all to implement change, no matter how big or small? The majority of us have a choice. We all have the ability to learn about our choices. Learning is all part of the process, and really, at the most, it can take an hour out of your day to do so.

When you next sit down to binge watch your favourite Netflix show, why not click onto The True Cost (which is on Netflix anyway) or go onto Amazon and order yourself a book, instead? Small steps lead to bigger things, and we can all make them if we try.


What are you going to do to learn more? Have you read Slow Fashion already? Let me know in the comments!

Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

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