Our mission at Empire of Bees is not only to provide ethically and sustainably produced bags and accessories but also to support and promote the slow fashion industry.

Nobody wants to support slave and child labour, unethical treatment of animals or harm to the environment, but it’s easy to choose the unethical option. Fast fashion and unethically produced fashion is so readily available it’s hard to know what’s ethical and what’s not. It’s not the consumer’s fault – it’s just really hard to tell. So we’ve made a checklist to help you assess whether the brands and products you're buying are a part of the fast fashion industry.

Assessing fast fashion

How much is it?
One of the main indicators of fast fashion is cost. You have to wonder how brands like Kmart, Best and Less, Coles and Target can sell clothes for so little. After all, if they can afford to sell them at that cost, how much are they paying to produce them? We know the answer, and it’s not good. Next time you’re looking at fashion, assess how much you think it would cost to make.

Is it a chain store?
The problem with chain stores like Zara, H&M and Uniqlo is that not only are they cheap, but they’re producing for global consumption. Fast fashion turnaround from catwalk to stores can be as little as two weeks. Imagine the labour pressure to produce fashion for the world’s consumption in just two weeks. Chain stores are no good.

What is the quality?
Does it look like it’s going to fall apart in your hands? If yes, it’s fast fashion. Low-quality fashion is unsustainable for two reasons. The first is that it won’t last you long, so it’s not sustainable for your budget or your wardrobe. The second reason is that if the quality is cheap, it was likely made for cheap. Leave it on the rack and walk away.

Assessing slow fashion

What is the cost?
It’s going to be more expensive than fast fashion for a number of reasons. The materials in the product are a higher quality, the brand’s paying a fair wage for labour, and they’re producing less quantity. This is sustainable fashion.

Is it a local store?
Many stand-alone boutiques (like our stockists), seek out local, handmade labels for their stores. If you’re shopping in a small boutique with lots of local labels, you’re shopping slow fashion.

What is the quality?
Slow fashion is handmade with care to last longer than a season. If it’s great quality, it’s likely to be sustainable.

There’s a great app called Good on you that rates brands on their labour, environmental and animal impacts. It’s a good one to have on hand when you’re shopping. If you don’t want to risk it, there are always op shops – 100% recycled fashion.