As millennials, we’ve decided to pave the way for socially conscious consumerism. Here are few brands that you can feel good about spending money on.
Given the rise of advocacy over the past few years, it’s unsurprising that our values have begun to influence how we shop. Millennials wear their personal beliefs on their figurative sleeves, and as a result, they want those beliefs to align with where they work, live and shop.
The birth of the conscious consumer has shifted marketing tactics and given way to a slew of socially responsible brands. Years ago, fair wages would’ve been a selling point; now, companies who don’t compensate their workers appropriately could be blacklisted by both retailers and shoppers. The millennial obsession with values has transformed the purchasing habits of theirs and other generations—and brands around the world have taken notice.
Now, there’s a brand that identifies with almost every system of ethics. Prefer to shop companies who offer living wages? Take your pick. Abide by a cruelty-free beauty routine? Simple. Want to support small businesses owned by women of color? It’s a breeze. No matter where your heart lies, it’s easier than ever to align your cash flow to it.
Reformation is a Los Angeles–based brand that designs and manufactures the majority of its clothing at an ultra-sustainable downtown LA factory. (What isn’t made in-house is produced in partnership with responsible manufacturers.) It’s almost impossible to tell whether the brand is more revered for its slinky, form-flattering dresses or devotion to environmentally friendly practices; it even has its own scale to track its ecological footprint.
Remember that advertisement for “free” leggings that was making its way around Facebook last year? Well, if you didn’t take advantage of it, you missed out: Girlfriend Collective makes arguably the most comfortable, form-flattering leggings around. But best of all, the brand produces them from recycled plastic bottles. The manufacturing process in its entirety is laid out on their website, and it’s fascinating. Bonus: The workers at Girlfriend’s Hanoi garment factory receive living wages, free health insurance, and free meals.
The Animal Activists
Most people don’t realize that animal testing isn’t considered animal abuse—or that many socially conscious beauty brands allow their products to be tested on animals wherever it’s legally required. Fed up with the obtuse nature of the beauty industry, Madeline Alcott decided to launch Petit Vour, an online store specializing in cruelty-free makeup and skincare. Focused on making “ethical luxury more accessible,” her site offers a carefully curated selection of products that are never tested on animals, or produced using unfair labor practices.
The fur trade is one of the most heartbreaking and inhumane industries in the world. But, perplexingly enough, the trade is perpetuated by a stigma that’s associated with faux fur. Enter Unreal Fur, a PETA-certified label that designs ethical alternatives to fur that are equally luxurious. The brand partners with former furriers who now refuse to work with the real thing, resulting in pieces that are as aesthetically and sensorially satisfying as the real thing.
The Human Rights Advocates
Created by the team behind Milk Studios, Milk Makeup is fluidity personified. Not only are the majority of the products multi-functional, but the brand also works with as many (if not more) non-binary models than cis-gender ones. Its inclusive ethos— “Whatever your look, we’re into it”—hopes to break the gender stereotypes that are assigned to makeup, and instead champions cosmetics as a tool of self-expression and experimentation.
While studying abroad in Ghana, Michelle Blue worked closely with a group of young girls who were so impactful that, upon returning to the U.S., she shared their story with her best friend, Sasha Matthews. Two years later, Blue and Matthews decided to launch Bené, a line of Ghanaian-inspired scarves with a compassionate twist. A portion of the proceeds from the scarves, which are made in Atlanta and feature African textile motifs, helps a group of young women continue their education by providing tuition, books, uniforms, and more. In marginalized regions where girls rarely receive a complete education, the chance to educate themselves—and to carve out their own career path—is one that’ll not only change their lives, but the future of their communities.