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#MadeRight: Your Guide to Ethical Fashion

Earlier this month, I found out that our work became a case study in a UNDP report on rebuilding a circular economy! This was the nerd equivalent to being nominated for an Emmy Award (well, almost) and was celebrated through a happy dance at the SC HQ. Thinking of our Ibus and how together with you, we’re charting a new path and doing something that was never done before filled my heart with pride.

I was deeply honored to see our work and especially our #MadeRight transparency standard recognized internationally. But at the same time, the report also reminded me once again how dirty the common industry practice is. Tons of toxic, even carcinogenic, synthetic dye waste are still being dumped in our rivers everyday! And still, 98% of women who make your clothes don't actually earn a livable wage.


The reality of Batik synthetic dyeing in Indonesia, image from The Jakarta Post.

The good news: There’s a lot you can do to be a part of the solution! That’s why I’ve put together a quick guide about the issues that led to the creation of our #MadeRight standard. You can use it to differentiate between brands that create real change and the growing number of those whose ethical and sustainable claims are – sorry to be so blunt - nothing but empty marketing gimmicks.

Let’s dive right in!

#MadeRight is a promise that your clothes provided a living wage, is kind to the Planet, and sustains heritage craftsmanship. 












Traceability: The Thread that ties it all together

Traceability means knowing exactly who made it, how, and most importantly, under what conditions.

As you can see from the above, a better fashion world comes down to traceability: Knowing how, where and under what conditions your clothes where made. Most brands can’t tell you where any of their materials came from, let alone who grew the fibers or how much he or she was paid. Fashion’s sprawling global supply chain has made traceability difficult.

So what can you do?

Today, almost everything we buy suddenly says “Ethically Sourced”, “Sustainably Made” etc. Here are a couple of questions you can ask your favorite brands to hold them accountable - and maybe even get them to slowly change their practices. (If they don't have a ready answer, well, yeah that's probably not a good sign):

  1. Who made it? How was it made? And under what conditions?
    Remember, ‘handmade’ does not equal fairly paid. If they use vague claims like ‘Ethically sourced’, ask: How do you make sure the workers receive a living wage?
  2. Did someone from your brand ever visit the workshop to see conditions on the ground?
  3. How do you deal with waste from production and synthetic dyeing? Is there any filtration system in place?
  4. If they use natural dyes: How do you make sure you source the dyes sustainably (aka no deforestation). And were any chemicals used in the process (yes, a lot of natural dye brands actually use chemicals as you can see here).
  5. Is this really batik/ikat or is this just printed? How many % of your collections are handmade vs screen/digitally printed?

And whenever you have doubts – don’t buy it. Buy less, but demand more.


It’s time to make sure our choices no longer hurt others.

Sustainability is a journey - a difficult one. There always seems to be more we can do, more that needs to be done. But all change starts with small acts - like asking questions and being more critical with the brands you encounter. Together, we can transform the way our clothes are made to a cleaner, more inclusive industry.

What’s next, you may wonder? We’re taking on a whole new journey with a massive impact potential for our climate. Hint: it’s below your feet. Stay tuned to find out more!


Your nerd who cares,


P.S.  If you find this guide useful, please share it! Amplify the knowledge. It means all the world to the women who make your clothes.