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Buying ethical fashion becoming easier for consumers

Justly Market bridges the gap between consumers who are looking for ethical products and the companies that produce them

Senhoa is jewelry line made by survivors of human trafficking. Screenshot from Justly Market
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Reported by Lindsey Lloyd

An online marketplace is helping to streamline shopping for consumers who want to purchase ethically produced goods.

All companies that sell products through Justly Market have to go through an extensive application and vetting process which includes where their materials are sourced from, the manufacturing process and treatment of employees. The website has over 17 different companies that meet the ethical certification.

Tara Teng, who operates Justly Market, said consumers can trust that the companies on the website are treating their employees well.

“We are ethical shopping made easy,” she said. “[One clothing] line is made by survivors of human trafficking or women who are at risk of human trafficking in Cambodia.”

The website receives a commission on all sales they facilitate, according to Teng, but they don’t charge the brands to appear on the platform.

Natasha Campbell, instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Wilson School of Design, said thinking ethically when it comes to fashion is challenging for consumers. She added that people turn a blind eye to manufacturing practices that happen in other countries.

“Consumers need to be educated. They are not aware of the impact their habits have,” she said. “If the value is there, they’ll buy it.”

The real cost of fashion

Teng, also a former lobbyist and advocate for ending human trafficking, said fast fashion retailers cut corners by not paying fair wages and that a large part of human trafficking in other counties is tied to clothing manufacturing.

“I know how much a t-shirt costs if you want to pay that person fairly,” Teng said. “There’s no way that you can sell clothing at these blow out prices. A large part what we see for human trafficking is in the fashion industry.”

Campbell said that large fashion companies are not to fully blame as the manufacturer that was originally hired by the fashion retailer will sometimes pass off the work to a third party that does not “check the environment or labour standards.”

Karsen Gradidge, a customer of Justly Market said the online marketplace is convenient for her.

“I don’t have to do the research myself, which can be really time consuming,” she said. “I really try to be conscious with the purchases that I make. I want to make sure that my consumer choices are benefiting the greater good of all.”

Teng said that the current practices are not sustainable and believes that over time larger retailers will start making changes.

“Consumers are going to start to demand it,” she said.

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