Choosing ethical designers

August 19, 2016


Shopping for others can be a hoot, but when you’re paying up front with no guarantee that you’ll make all of your money back, the style stakes are higher. This is what it’s like buying for your own shop. I loved buying for our inaugural collection and browsing online. Finding labels that fit our values and aesthetic gave me such a thrill, but the pressure was on to deliver.

Being a buyer is a balancing act, with your personal tastes in one hand and your customers’ in the other. Being a first-time buyer was even trickier. Despite the market research I did for my business plan, I won’t know for sure what my clients like until the shop opens (September 6 by the way). I was, in many ways, buying in the dark with a small, lit match and my gut instincts to guide me.


I also relied on the shop’s core values:

Quality quality materials that are comfortable and long-lasting, quality content

Simplicity in design, living and business

versatility in clothing and accessories, nimble business processes

honesty in our designer criteria, manufacturing, labour and environmental practices, own up to mistakes

respect people and planet, respect our clients, respect our employees, respect our suppliers and partners

diversity through our models, designers and employees

environmental responsibility by using environmentally friendly materials and processes, conserving energy in our office, using recycled materials, recycling our waste, promoting energy and resource conservation in our corporate messaging



Having these guidelines helped keep me focused on those labels that shared at least one of these values with us. I also had a list of criteria in mind that I put together by referencing other sustainable fashion websites.




We choose to carry labels that follow at least one or more of these criteria:

Organic: use organic textiles (grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides)

Renewable: use renewable resources such as plant fibre-based textiles

  • Devlyn Van Loon
  • Duffield Design

Biodegradable: use biodegradable materials

Recycable: use recycled and recyclable materials

  • Mary Lee Jewellery

Fair labour: made by consenting adults who are paid a fair, livable wage; have the freedom to unionize; work in a safe environment with strict health and safety regulations; don’t work overtime; have regular work breaks; receive health benefits; have paid leave; have paid sick days

Non-toxic: no use of harmful chemicals

  • Devlyn Van Loon
  • Duffield Design
  • Erdaine

Cruelty-free: no use of animal skins or furs, unless from second-hand sources; source wool from humanely treated animals

  • Devlyn Van Loon
  • Duffield Design
  • Erdaine
  • Josiane Perron
  • KOTN


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