Is anyone else absolutely FED up with the plethora of fast fashion brands!? It’s pretty gut-wrenching to hear the truth of what’s happening to (majority female) textile workers, all because of overconsumption, new trends that change faster than the weather, & people’s obsession with never wanting to wear the same thing. This doesn’t just stop at jeans & tee-shirts but extends to lingerie.
Why Shop Ethical?
Fast fashion brands, like Boohoo, Shein and H&M seem to be growing in popularity daily. They are affordable, “trendy” & accessible to the average consumer. The problem? They are at the expense of vulnerable workers’ human rights & it is decimating the environment.
The conditions that many fast fashion brands’ workers endure are inhumane. These workers work wildly long hours, often 14-16 hours a day, 7 days a week, for below-living wages and often in dangerous conditions. There are many reports that children are forced to work, due to the low-skilled labour required.
When it comes to the environmental impact, the majority of clothing, which either falls apart due to its poor quality or is simply disregarded for the next trend, is often not recycled or donated, but goes straight to landfills or gets incinerated. Clothing can take up to 200 years to decompose, so it just continues to pollute our land and oceans. They also lead to:
- Excess water usage: Textile factories in countries that produce fast fashion lead to toxic wastewater with lead, mercury and arsenic going into rivers/oceans that are extremely harmful to aquatic and human life. For context, in Bangladesh, 22,000 tons of toxic waste from factories go into the waterways each year.
- Adding to greenhouse gasses: The millions of garments made use excessive energy, and most synthetic clothing is generated from fossil fuels
- Deforestation: Overgrazing for certain materials leads to soil erosion, land degradation, loss of valuable plant species, food shortages & famine. Fibres like rayon and viscose are wood-based, causing mass deforestation due to endangered and ancient rainforests being logged.
- Toxins: Excess of random chemicals are involved in every stage of textile production and manufacturing that can be found in the clothing that we wear, impacting and endangering our health.
Ethical shopping is when you aim to buy from brands that align with your personal values. It can be exhausting knowing the truth of unsustainable shopping, but being mindful can be very empowering. As consumers, it allows us to vote with our dollar—which can make a huge impact!
Our own empowerment & self-care shouldn’t come at the cost of other people’s freedom & well-being. It allows us to give back and do the right thing, which pushes companies that aren’t operating ethically, to do the right thing or risk losing shoppers.
Not only will you be contributing to a better future for the planet & its people, but the items you buy will also be made with quality, lasting a long time, making it worth your hard-earned money.
What Is Ethical Lingerie?
What actually makes a lingerie brand “ethical”?
Ethical companies relate to the social impact and moral impact that a company operates under. To be ethical, a company must be transparent about the type of fabric it uses, and its supply chain, which includes the treatment of all workers.
If a company has nothing to hide, it should be excited to show what they are up to and how they operate, and as a consumer, it doesn’t take too much work to find out the truth, thanks to resources such as Good On You.
There is also the closely linked idea of sustainability. Sustainable brands are thoughtful of the lifespan of textiles and thoughtfully design them to last, as re-wearable, timeless designs and enduring fabrics.
Fabrics are often selected due to their impact including the manner they were grown. Organic cotton, linen, and hemp (when responsibly grown and sourced) are favoured, in addition to leftover/recycled fabrics.
Where To Shop Ethically?
What we wear every day under our clothes deserves some attention & thought. This is maybe even more true when doing a sexy boudoir photoshoot!
Sometimes, however, seeking out ethical & sustainable pieces can be a challenge. The main thing you want to look for are pieces made using sustainable materials & natural fabrics like cotton, bamboo, or recycled materials. You should also seek out items with low-impact dyes or waterless production methods. Don’t forget to check out their supply chain, including workers’ rights.
Here are some ways to be more ethical with your lingerie:
- Shop your own closet
You might already have a few pieces you didn’t know you could wear to your boudoir shoot! This includes pieces like scarves, dresses, and even sheets! Check out my blog for additional inspo on packing for your shoot.
- Re-make & Re-design
If you are unable to shop for new pieces, you can use some of your old clothing you don’t tend to wear anymore, like a lacy dresses or silk pyjamas and take them to an alteration shop, and voila! You can find exciting new pieces!
Or you can do the following:
- Why not turn old panties into gentle, no-scratch clothes for cleaning?
- Make garden compost with any pieces that are 100% cotton, just be sure to get rid of any elastics, embellishments and tags.
- Donate old lingerie to a textile recycling point, so it can find a new life.
- Turn old panties into household items such as pillow stuffings, potpourri sachets, hair ties, plant holders, or even a blanket/quilt.
- Old bra padding can be reused as a shoe insert to help shoes maintain shape when in storage.
- Shop pre-owned
Thrift shopping should never be overlooked! You can find absolute treasures at amazing prices & stores only accept pieces that are lightly used so you can be comfortable it’s still in great shape.
Shopping pre-owned often allows you to find unusual, vintage, & super unique pieces & name-brand pieces for so much cheaper. Check out Denver local thrift stores like Goodwill and Arc or vintage stores/markets such as:
If online shopping is more your thing check out:
- Shop ethical & sustainable brands
Remember that the money you spend is a vote!
Here are 15 fabulous lingerie brands that are doing their part to be ethical & sustainable:
Tizz & Tonic: This brand is an independent women’s intimate brand that uses bold colors & prints, in inclusive sizing from XXS-XXL.Everything is made with certified organic cotton and plant-based textiles by a small, all-female team.
ColieCo: This Portugal-based, female owned brand focuses on ethically sourced, sustainable underwear that is all made in house. ColieCo was created with the intention be accessible for a wide market for conscious consumers, while focusing on fun designs that are 100% committing to being kind to the environment.
Pact: Pact has made a pact to make the world a better place from start to end, from planting organic cotton to be used, all the way to the final product in fair trade factories! This lingerie brings comfort and fun designs.
Girlfriend Collective: Girlfriend Collective focuses primarily on basic pieces of lingerie, which we can all use! The best part? All undies are made with recycled plastic water bottles—and can be recycled again through its “ReGirlfriend initiative” when you no longer need ‘em. Girlfriend Collective is one of my favorite companies for the product’s amazing fit and durability. I have leggings from here that have lasted 8+ years of heavy use. I’ve literally skinned my knees and gotten bitten by my dogs in these leggings and the leggings stayed flawless.
Thief & Bandit: Thief & Bandit are all about creating pieces that would absolutely POP in a boudoir shoot ;). All bralette & high-waisted underwear feature gorgeous hand-drawn prints on organic fabrics that are made to order, using in-house silkscreens and organic jersey fabric.
Clare Bare: These jaw-dropping pieces are made from vintage & recycled fabrics and create bodysuits, bras & panties. The sizing is intentionally inclusive, with the mission to be comfortable and worn by all bodies.
Hopeless Lingerie: You can feel good when you buy & wear Hopeless Lingerie pieces as every single piece is made in-house, & made to order to avoid waste. The brand also focuses on comfort with customized sizing to accommodate all bodies and genders. While definitely not the cheapest option, this is intentional as they are designed to be kept & used for years, as a contribution to keeping environmental impact low.
Lilipiache: With a focus on flirty & feminine pieces, Lilipiache only creates lingerie with natural, eco-friendly fabrics including organic cotton, silk & French lace to create small batches, & stunning artisan-made lingerie.
Ayten Gasson: If you are looking for pieces that scream sexy bombshell, look further than Ayten Gasson! This British brand focuses on high-end sustainable materials including peace silk & upcycled vintage lace, all ethically made in the UK.
Eco Intimates: As the name suggests, Eco Intimates focuses on custom-made lingerie in significant, small & sustainable batches. Each piece is made by a team in Bali, with environmentally conscious fabrics including organic cotton & undyed materials.
Knickey: Taking an “earth-minded” approach, Knickey makes lingerie without any harmful chemicals & toxins & is certified-organic cotton that is all about recycling. So, nothing ends up in landfills when you’re done with your undies!
Playful Promises: Playful Promise is a fantastic brand that turns recycled plastic bottles into polyester & finally, into beautiful lingerie! They also focus on limiting any emission of greenhouse gasses & are committed to saving water & energy where possible.
Boody Wear: Let’s hear it for vegan wear! Boody Wear is a Peta-approved brand that focuses on seamless designs for everyday use, using soft bamboo viscose!
Daniela Paradeis: Ethically handmade in Australia, Daniela Paradeis lingerie reaches new levels of sexiness & beauty, while being vegan & vintage. Alot of their pieces include vegan leather that is just down right sexy!
Mary Young: Mary Young’s sweet pieces are crafted with sustainable fabrics, including organic bamboo, that is excellent for the planet with all the workers being paid a fair, living wage in Montreal, Canada. They are all about self-love too, with the idea that every woman should feel & look good!
The cold hard truth is that lingerie contributes to around 10% of annual global carbon emissions, with 60% of the fabric being synthetic and derived from fossil fuels. Due to the dying process, it also contributes to 20% of global wastewater. And that’s just the environmental impact. Lingerie should make us feel good while empowering us as we embrace our femininity. Paradoxically, the majority of textile workers are female, and are being treated inhumanely for our lingerie!
But it doesn’t have to be like this.
While I have highlighted some brands that are really making a difference, the ultimate accountability falls on us, consumers, to make mindful decisions when shopping for lingerie. The best way to do this is to pick brands that are firmly in line with your principles and morals and to spread the word with family & friends.
Do you strive to shop ethically? What are some of your favorite brands?