In light of the numerous posts we have been dedicating to fast fashion (and the array of down-right destructive side effects that stem from it), here is a solution post, one to help you navigate the market, which is so heavily saturated with products that are the result of design piracy, questionable labor practices and health/safety standards, and intellectual property violations. Enter: HELPSY. The brainchild of New York-based stylist/writer-turned-entrepreneur, Rachel Kibbe, HELPSY is a digital platform that aims to simultaneously promote positive change in the fashion industry and "curate apparel and products that are as beautiful, exciting, and design-forward as they are ethical." Or as Kibbe puts it, HELPSY is "an e-commerce store for ethical fashion that's dope."
What does that actually mean? Essentially, the HELPSY team does the research to provide you with an e-marketplace of ethical fashion. The site organizes garments, accessories and other products into a number of categories (think: cruelty-free, up-cycled, recycled, non-disposable and well-made, eco-conscious, fair-trade, vintage, sold to profit philanthropic causes, manufactured where it was conceived or handcrafted in a way that preserves indigenous artisanal traditions). According to HELPSY standards, a product is ethical if it fits into at least four of the aforementioned categories.
Kibbe, who apprenticed under Alexander Wang and Jack Spade during her time at Parsons, has identified the one of the core problems that currently plagues fashion. She says: "I think that the pace of fashion has gotten out of hand, and I think there has not been enough transparency. So, there's a system where the consumer is addicted to getting whatever is most trendy, right off the runway, at a really cheap price. Social and environmental factors have really been abused to give the consumer what they want - and now, what they expect." To fight this unsustainable and largely destructive cycle, Kibbe has teamed up with a number of designers, including Mandy Coon, Titania Inglis, Nettie Kent, Araks (pictured above), ShadowplayNYC, and Wren, among others, to provide shoppers with ethically produced garments, outerwear, lingerie, swimwear, jewelry, footwear, and even cosmetics.
But maybe more importantly than providing shoppers with ethical products, HELPSY is providing shoppers with knowledge. As HELPSY quite accurately states, "Buying ethical products encourages the fashion industry to sell them. The more we choose to purchase ethical goods, the faster the fashion industry adapt to make them, and the better off we'll all be." Considering the rampant abuses that go into making the vast amount of the garments and accessories on the market (which most consumers often purchase without thinking twice because they simply have not been educated on the downsides of such garments and accessories), HELPSY aims to provide consumers with knowledge about where their clothes come from and the practices that are used to make them. Knowing where your clothing comes from and being able to feel confident that it is made in an ethical manner, in my opinion (which self-admittedly weighs heavily in favor of thoughtful fashion and considerations of quality over quantity), is about as chic as it gets.