Why isn’t there a maximum wage? What would you say if you met the person who made your clothes? What would you change if you discovered it takes a garment worker 18 months to earn what a fashion brand CEO makes on their lunch break?

These were the questions we asked human rights activists in person and on social media while exhibiting our Interactive Expo at the Oslo Freedom Forum, a global gathering of activists who shared their stories of sacrifice and perseverance to defend democracy in increasingly closed societies. From Iran to Cuba to Venezuela, here are the top 3 questions from activists interested in our movement:

1. I had never connected supporting dictators with my fashion choices! So  what’s the connection to defending democracy and conscious fashion?

Cotton for our clothes is picked in China and Uzbekistan and fast fashion is often stitched in Cambodia, Bangladesh and increasingly Myanmar. Starting to see a pattern? Fashion brands have rushed into countries ruled by dictators, where there is limited legal enforcement, corruption and it is dangerous for makers to raise their voices in dissent. When we buy cheap clothes we support these regimes.

2. What brands do I say no to?

Enjoying conscious fashion starts with one word. No. Breaking up with fast fashion is a direct way to wear our values. A $5 impulse buy won’t make us happy and is certainly not respecting human rights on the other end. So, who are the brands to say no to, and the brands to say yes to? Check out our wallet-size downloadable conscious fashion guide. These were a huge hit in Oslo.

3. Am I going to go broke if I go ethical?

Believe it or not, we save money in the long-run when we rise above the rapidly changing trends and invest in fewer, better pieces. Think back to all the times you’ve had to replace your cheap socks or jeans because of a hole, the shape being lost, or the color fading. Slow fashion lasts years instead of months. So you actually save $$ in the long run. The added bonus? There are an increasing number of affordable conscious fashion brands. These are some of our favorites.

“These issues are important. I can’t believe so many people are working in garment factories.” – El Sexto, Cuban graffiti artist and human rights activist

“If I could meet her, I’d ask her if she thinks she is getting a fair wage. I really think if we associated a face with an item of clothing we’d be willing to pay more. I’m definitely going to check out conscious brands and rethink vintage options.” – Nicole, human rights activist

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