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A hashtag created to make finding ethical fashion easier and lend a voice to small businesses who are trying to do their bit to build a more sustainable fashion industry, #ItsNotJustStella has slowly been building momentum across the internet.

I feel like I should start by stating that I love Stella McCartney. I love her clothes, her passion for ethical fashion, and the work she has done towards contributing to a more sustainable fashion industry. She set a standard for her peers to follow, demonstrating that the industry can adapt to make ethical, sustainable, garments and if they do, people will buy them.

The problem isn’t that what Stella is doing isn’t great, it’s that a lot of the time when having a conversation about eco and sustainable fashion and its future, only the big brands are mentioned. The #ItsNotJustStella campaign aims to shed light on the plethora of smaller, hard grafting businesses who are all contributing towards the growth of the ethical fashion movement and promoting eco fashion ideals.

Rachel Kibbe launched the online ethical fashion store Helpsy in 2013, motivated by the general misconception that eco-fashion is all about hemp yoga gear and upcycling your latest charity shop purchase. She set out on a mission to prove that ethical could be cutting edge and sustainable fashion could be just that – (highly) fashionable.

Helpsy describes their mission as a, “hope to guide people to make more ethical purchasing decisions with no sacrifice in beauty or style.” Whereas Kibbe’s own personal mission is even more ambitious, in that “she believes in the power of the internet to spread social good and to ignite change”, an idea based on the principal that if we all talk about sustainability more, a greater number of people will become aware of eco fashion (and fall in love with it because it’s fabulous), so start shopping ethically and responsibly. It’s a classic case of supply and demand – the more people that buy eco, the more the industry will have to cater for their desires. Simple?

Perhaps not, but Helpsy is a really good place to start and a firm step in the right direction. All you have to do is search the hashtag on twitter and a whole world of sustainable and eco-conscious brands will flood your newsfeed. Peruvian cotton tanks with alpaca wool pockets, ethically made shoes and carefully, responsibly sourced bags – many made to order or produced in small batches to meet demand and support the slow fashion movement.

As well as providing a platform for smaller businesses and designers, #ItsNotJustStella also proves how easy, and perhaps more importantly how affordable, it is to shop ethically. As much as I love Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood and covet their gorgeous garments, there’s no way I could afford to buy from them regularly, so I’m looking at one or two investment pieces at most.

So how does your average fashion lover on an average salary make sure they are shopping ethically and sustainably? One answer is campaigns like #ItsNotJustStella and sites like Helpsy that promote affordable, ethical fashion.

There are tons of brands globally who are contributing towards the movement, from the wonderful The Reformation in the US (who also offer free worldwide shipping so go crazy), Canadian MATT & NAT whose brand motto is “live beautifully” and are committed to not using leather or any other animal-based materials, Jasper George in the UK who create comfy, beachy clothes in divinely soft organic fabrics, the fabulous TERMITE eyewear whose story can be read on this very website, and Rant clothing in Australia.

These are just few examples, and a tiny percentage of the brands and businesses out there making a difference around the world contributing towards the sustainable fashion movement. If you haven’t heard of them, look them up, and if you want to know more, then check out #ItsNotJustStella on twitter.

As April 24th approaches – the two year anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which took the lives of 1133 innocent people – it is more important than ever that we step back and take a look at how we shop and where the clothes we buy come from. Helpsy and the businesses supporting sustainability in the fashion industry are doing their bit, so what will you do and how will you make a change? 

Rachael Martin, Tweet @RachaelKMartin 

George Jasper Organic


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