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February 24, 2016

We asked Jess Sternberg, the manger of Toronto based Flow-active to tell us more about the importance of buying socially and environmentally responsible clothing. She passionatly sources Canadian and US made workout gear for 


We are entering a global identity crisis right now.
When was the last time you stopped to ask:
 “where do my clothes come from?”

More likely than not, you are wearing a shirt that has traveled across half the planet from China, India, Cambodia or another distant country onto your body. Currently, over 90% of North American clothing is being imported from cheaper wage countries. But did you know that only 30 years ago the vast majority of clothing was made locally?

The rise in fast fashion, due to the rise in sweat shop manufacturing, makes it easy for us to buy cheap. It also happens to cause countless problems. The five dollar t-shirt you buy from a big box retailer may be an easy purchase (hey, it costs less than your morning latte), but it actually creates an incredibly dangerous mindset: that clothing is a disposable luxury.

Why is this a problem?


Fast fashion is so cheap that we start buying items for single occasions: “I need a new dress for my friend's birthday party", “I need a new T-shirt for that concert“, and so on. Cheaply made clothing gives you no reason to second guess a spur of the moment purchase that will ultimately sit in your closet, and subsequently a landfill.

But excessive waste isn't the only issue. Fast fashion also helps to remove us from the origin of our clothes. The price of the garment becomes more important than how it is attained. Business Insider reveals that the average hourly wage for a garment worker in Bangladesh is $0.24, a place where 10% off all children between the ages of 5 and 14 work. When you buy that $2.00 t-shirt at H&M, you probably are not looking at the country in which the garment is made and their industry laws. If you knew a 5 year old girl, who has been working 12 hours without even a bathroom break, is the worker sewing your cheap tee, you probably wouldn't be so inclined to buy it.

It would be unfair to say that all Strongbody workout shirtmanufacturing abroad is unethical, because there are 
small niche companies that offer free trade production options, but by buying locally in Canada or the United States you can guarantee your clothing is made ethically. Our minimum wage, safety and child labour laws ensure your T-shirt was made by happy hands. And isn't it worth spending the extra money on one high quality, consciously made item, instead of 10 made-in-China shirts that only last a couple wears?

Lately there has been a small surge in locally produced clothing. From boutique companies like Free Label, who focuses on organic basics made in Toronto, to high end menswear brands like Strongbody Apparel, who manufacture luxe activewear for modern “brogis“, there are more and more options available for the conscious shopper.

The fashion identity crisis can be solved by taking a few easy steps:

  1. Read labels. Where is the garment from? Does that country guarantee ethical production standards?
  2. Explore new brands. Google is a pretty magical tool. Spend a few minutes researching new conscious brands and buy with intention instead of on a whim at the mall.
  3. Share your knowledge. The only way to get the ball rolling is to teach others the importance of ethical fashion. Whether that means sharing this article, telling your friends about your favorite new Canadian made brand, or publically boycotting disingenuous brands, every bit helps. 

Written By Jess Sternberg, GM at Flow-active

Trying to reduce your consumption and become more environmentally friendly? Read our article on environmental literacy here.

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