About our guest: Ellie Hughes is a stylist and ethical fashion advocate based in Portland, OR. She runs SelflesslyStyled.com - a resource for consumers to find ethical brands and discover their personal style. Additionally, Ellie is the Marketing Coordinator for Sseko Designs - an ethical fashion brand that empowers women in Uganda to attend university and allows women in the US to earn an income while making an impact.
[MK] You run Selflessly Styled Blog. Could you tell me when you started it and what was your motivation?
[EH] Selflessly Styled was originally a lifestyle blog which I had started as a creative outlet for myself. In 2015, I watched The True Cost documentary on fast fashion and my eyes were opened to the corruption of the industry. After working hard to change the way I personally shop for clothes, I decided to transform Selflessly Styled into a resource for other conscious consumers to get connected to brands that are doing things the right way!
"I think women are much more in tune with the ethical fashion industry, but guys are getting on board too!"
[MK] What is your take on fashion?
[EH] I think fashion is at a really interesting point right now. We’re seeing a little bit of everything - I love watching stylists combine the aesthetics of several past decades into fresh and modern looks!
[MK] How is ethical fashion separated from mainstream fashion? What are your insights on this gap?
[EH] Let's start by understanding what "unethical fashion" is. As of 2016, about 98% of the clothes purchased in the USA are manufactured overseas. The vast majority of these items are produced in factories that underpay, use child labor, abuse and threaten workers, participate in varying types of trafficking, and force employees to work in dangerous conditions. These factories produce the cheapest results, which they sell to major companies who mark up the prices and sell them for far more than they're worth.
Phew. That's a lot of info.
So, ethical fashion is the opposite of that. Ethical fashion is created by companies who pay all of their employees a fair wage (whether that be in the US or internationally) and source their materials sustainably. That's the short answer![MK] Who are the celebrities and role models supporting ethical fashion?
[EH] Emma Watson is one of my heros for the way she champions ethical fashion! Safia Minney is another major influencer in this movement.
[MK] What is your fashion style? What percent of your wardrobe could be labeled as ethical fashion?
[EH] My current style could best be described as minimal meets Parisian. At least that’s what I’d like to think! My whole wardrobe is made up of ethical items, but that’s been much easier for me to build as a blogger. I don’t ever want the average consumer to feel like they have to overturn their entire closet when they decide to shop ethically! (Read more on that here)
"While it used to be challenging to find a wide variety of ethically made products, now there’s something for everyone!"
[MK] Do you think ethical fashion offers enough variety to cover all the wardrobe needs?
[EH] Definitely! I think a really common misconception is that ethical fashion always looks a certain way. While it used to be challenging to find a wide variety of ethically made products, now there’s something for everyone!
[MK] Do you believe ethical fashion concept is spread equally well among women as among men? Can you name any brands that manufacture ethical clothing for men?
[EH] I think women are much more in tune with the ethical fashion industry, but guys are getting on board too! I have a whole list of ethical brands for men on the Selflessly Styled!
[MK] What is the main obstacle in ethical fashion market domination? What is preventing it from spreading around the world faster?
[EH] I think the main obstacle is the fact that a lot of people aren’t aware of the problem with fast fashion (the opposite of ethical fashion) or don’t have the motivation to be part of the solution. I touch on this in a blog post called “Fast Fashion, Who’s to Blame?”
[MK] What is controversial about ethical fashion?
[EH] I think ethical fashion can been seen as an elitist movement. Ethical fashion costs more, there’s no denying it. I think that some people feel excluded from the movement because of the cost, however, there are ways for people on any size of budget to shop ethically! Shopping secondhand is a great affordable option.
[MK] What was the last ethical fashion item you added to your wardrobe?