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Ethically Produced Clothing for the Camino

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nandita

New Member
Past OR future Camino
camino portugues
Hello all,

I'm slowly preparing for my first Camino and I've hit a bit of a moral issue. It feels kind of wrong for me to go on the Camino journey for religious and spiritual purposes and wear clothing made in some sweatshop in China or in Bangladesh.

Despite all my internet research, all I find are "sustainable", "environment-friendly" brands (the new trendy hip marketing keywords). I haven't found any brand or store that even pretends to offer decent work conditions and pay living wages to its workers.

While I simply don't have the financial capability to wear ethically produced clothes in everyday life, I would be willing to make a small investment for the Camino. I would be very grateful if someone here on the forum could share a brand they know can be trustworthy in that regard.

In case this helps, I live in Germany.

Thank you all in advance!
 
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RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
I understand where you're coming from and yes, clothing is dominated by such. So is all the gear. Backpacks and shoes, sleeping bags and trekking poles etc. I don't have an answer. I wish I did. It's all sourced out of the same few countries which pay horribly low wages and questionable working environment. I hope you can find some gear that isn't and is in your price range.
 
Past OR future Camino
CF Spring 2022
I think this is something worth paying more attention to, especially in this era of Amazon instant-anything (which I'm as guilty of availing myself of as anyone).

Don't know about its availability in the EU but US-based Cotopaxi has a sustainability policy which specifically mentions upholding fair labor practices in its factories. And Patagonia is another brand that seems to do more than pay lip service towards its environmental and social footprint.

(I buy both from REI here in the States, which is a member-owned co-operative that treats its workers well and upholds product impact standards in the goods they carry.)
 
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SabineP

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
Take a look at Woolpower.
Design and manufactured in Sweden although there is of course the thought that they could outsource the manufacturing abroad and pay honest wages.
A difficult subject indeed.

 
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Despite all my internet research, all I find are "sustainable", "environment-friendly" brands (the new trendy hip marketing keywords). I haven't found any brand or store that even pretends to offer decent work conditions and pay living wages to its workers.
Google nachhaltige Sportmode; there are plenty of German language websites with information and lists of companies. You must have heard of Trigema; they have been in the business for umpteen years and produce domestically ... one of THE success stories of medium-sized businesses in Germany. Look at Meindl, Hanwag and similar; I've not checked them out recently but as far as I remember, they, too, produce domestically and/or have only recently started to produce in neighbouring EU countries. These companies say that they support sustainable production, fair pay and fair working conditions. Trigema organises visits to their production sites for interested customers.

And, strictly speaking, you don't need to buy the newest functional gear. You are just walking one day after another. Although today's pilgrims will have an unshakeable belief that one cannot walk in jeans or in run-of-the-mill summer shorts ... plenty of people have done so and survived.

[Edited for clarity at OP request]
 
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anamcara

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Chemin du Piémont 😎
A tough one, for sure @nandita - but good to be thinking this way, and a reminder to us all. Another angle is to go through your existing wardrobe to see if you have any suitable lightweight clothing rather than buying new. Or take a look in the local charity shop for 'pre-loved' hiking clothes and gear. It may not be ethically sourced, but you would be making a contribution in a different way.

I hope you can come up with some solutions that sit well with you. Buen camino.
 
Past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Or take a look in the local charity shop for 'pre-loved' hiking clothes and gear. It may not be ethically sourced, but you would be making a contribution in a different way.
Good thought, @anamcara. This became one of my favorite and satisfying ways to shop many years ago. I estimate half of my Camino clothes have been purchased at charity/resale shops.
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
X
As with @anamcara above, I buy all my ‘scruffy’ clothes second hand. I’ve never been a fashion victim so I’m happy to wear most things until they fall off me. It’s a bit like outsourcing guilt.

I’m not personally convinced of the merits of making a more ethical choice when on the Camino. Whilst not admitting to being religious I’d hope that St Peter, or whoever’s on duty at the time, would take the wider view and not consider my time on Camino to have any extraordinary merit.

(Actually, on reflection, if I could select a portion of my life for special consideration by the Almighty’s gatekeepers it should be the time which I spend under the close supervision of my darling wife. Despite my frequent attempts otherwise my behaviour is exemplary, although it’s She Who Must Be Obeyed and not the thought of Satan’s fiery furnace which keeps me on the straight and narrow)
 
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henrythedog

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
X
One could argue that making ethical choices on the Camino is not so much about ensuring a benefit in the next world as making a difference in this one. But perhaps that's a subject for another thread :)
That’s actually a very good point but - as you say - for elsewhere. The purported benefit for the faithful lies both here and now and outside this world; I don’t decry that but agree that one should never put off doing something that’s simply good.

Good call.
 

pasiño a pasiño

sin dolor no hay gloria
Past OR future Camino
2018 Via de la Plata | next Francés again....
excellent anamcara! Would have recommended the same. Reuse and reduce are the keywords.
To have the new and fancy stuff is in my eyes totally overestimated!
by the way, I've got a lot of kilometres under my belt, doesn't matter how much I spent on my Gear, i was always wet! If not from the outside, then from the inside! i just sweat a lot. :) and this advertisement from Gore Tex or what ever, never worked for me! The best was my fancy, expensy merino wool pants (40€) , which got holes after 200km...
Kathar1na you will find your way!
Gute Zeit!
 
Past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Actually, now that we're talking about this, some of my BEST gear has been from charity shops.
I am sold on merino wool and cashmere. I buy men's XL cashmere sweaters and shrink them in my washer/dryer. They are light as a feather and keep me VERY warm. I have found nice icebreaker wool shirts, good windbreakers, nice fleece shirts. I even bought my latest ALTUS poncho here on the forum, used. I do buy new shoes and socks each year and I have bought a new Macabi skirt. But other than that, all my stuff is used. Oh wait! I bought a new BRIZE pack this year, then decided I didn't like it, if anyone's interested. I was missing my old Arcteryx top-loader and thought this might work, but I didn't like the feel of it.
 

anamcara

Camino Walker
Past OR future Camino
2022 Chemin du Piémont 😎
I have to admit I like a bit of new gear as much as anyone else - and more than some I'm sure. So, if I cannot resist the urge, for Camino or other purpose, I try to stick to the take one, give one principle - if I'm buying something new, I'm giving one if not two items in its place.

And like @Anniesantiago have found some wonderful gems, including some years ago unknowingly buying a hiking skirt that one of my dear friends donated to a local charity shop. We met for a walk one morning and I was wearing the skirt and happily announced to her - 'look, I found this one at Vinnies - it's just like yours'. She took hold of the hemline, and checked underneath - and discovered a repair she'd done. 'It is just like mine, in fact it is mine!' Gold!
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022 CF
Hello all,

I'm slowly preparing for my first Camino and I've hit a bit of a moral issue. It feels kind of wrong for me to go on the Camino journey for religious and spiritual purposes and wear clothing made in some sweatshop in China or in Bangladesh.

Despite all my internet research, all I find are "sustainable", "environment-friendly" brands (the new trendy hip marketing keywords). I haven't found any brand or store that even pretends to offer decent work conditions and pay living wages to its workers.

While I simply don't have the financial capability to wear ethically produced clothes in everyday life, I would be willing to make a small investment for the Camino. I would be very grateful if someone here on the forum could share a brand they know can be trustworthy in that regard.

In case this helps, I live in Germany.

Thank you all in advance!
I’d wear what you own already… You don’t need anything special, everything I wore on my first camino came from my existing wardrobe (and I was no hiker!).
Apart from boots and poles that is.. I had to buy those. 🙂
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
I simply don't have the financial capability to wear ethically produced clothes in everyday life,
I don't think the distinction between what you wear on the Camino and what you wear at home makes much sense. Surely what matters is the total. If you have something unethical that you wear at home, take it on the Camino - don't buy a new "ethical" item. Try to improve your buying ethics overall, to the best of your ability. That is what really matters.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
As a person who likes to make things I sew quite a bit of my Camino wardrobe and gear. I make silk sleep sacks and pillowcases. I wear merino hiking dresses that I made, and I also made my own rain gear - a "Parcho" from a kit that I bought from Quest Outfitters. I'm working on a new Parcho made of a lighter weight fabric with a couple of tweaks in the design, but I will be loaning the first one that I made to friends going on the Camino.
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
There are a number of good ideas here about how to address the issue in the long term, though, both in terms of sourcing ethically produced stuff,
A site that may be helpful for your search:
They also have a well-established used clothing site:

Patagonia Worn Wear

And reusing it:
Another angle is to go through your existing wardrobe to see if you have any suitable lightweight clothing rather than buying new. Or take a look in the local charity shop for 'pre-loved' hiking clothes and gear. It may not be ethically sourced, but you would be making a contribution in a different way.
Most of my clothing comes from yard sales and charity shops.
Unbelievable what I find
If you have something unethical that you wear at home, take it on the Camino - don't buy a new "ethical" item. Try to improve your buying ethics overall, to the best of your ability. That is what really matters.
As a person who likes to make things I sew quite a bit of my Camino wardrobe and gear.
All wonderful options. Don't feel you need to wear the 'right' clothes. That's a first-world thing. Anything that covers you and is comfortable is fine.

That said, what we buy is only one part of the equation; it's really complicated.
Consuming less new stuff gets at the demand side of the issue and has many benefits - but actually does nothing to in the short term to improve the lives of people who work in these places. In fact it may cause them to lose their livelihood. (I'm not talking through my hat here, having worked with people who've sewn in garment factories in a developing country.)

So if you want to make a difference now rather than in the long term, there are more direct ways to do that. But that's not a Forum topic.
 
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Gumba

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
I buy almost all of my gear at Kathmandu - A New Zealand company with many shops there and in Australia. I am thrilled to say they have an excellent reputation for ethically produced clothes.

good quality products - I buy merino shirts always, we are winter walkers and I like the light/warm ratio.


 
Hello all,

I'm slowly preparing for my first Camino and I've hit a bit of a moral issue. It feels kind of wrong for me to go on the Camino journey for religious and spiritual purposes and wear clothing made in some sweatshop in China or in Bangladesh.

Despite all my internet research, all I find are "sustainable", "environment-friendly" brands (the new trendy hip marketing keywords). I haven't found any brand or store that even pretends to offer decent work conditions and pay living wages to its workers.

While I simply don't have the financial capability to wear ethically produced clothes in everyday life, I would be willing to make a small investment for the Camino. I would be very grateful if someone here on the forum could share a brand they know can be trustworthy in that regard.

In case this helps, I live in Germany.

Thank you all in advance!
I admit I am a shopper and most of my equipment is used when purchased. I shop garage sales and thrift stores and haven't considered the original source. Socks, medicine and shoes were purchased new. Thank you for making me more aware.
 
Past OR future Camino
Camino Madrid/Frances 2021
Future- del Norte 2022
Economic questions are difficult to work through. I am reminded of the noted economist Thomas Sowell who said "There are no solutions, just trade offs". The garment industry sometimes makes a bad situation in a country, a little more bearable but it is complicated. We might be able to contemplate those trade offs as we fly in a comfortable jet on our way to do pilgrimage...... Very difficult to solve!! I am happy we are having the discussion.
 

Toscaflower

New Member
Past OR future Camino
CF 2014 Leon to Santiago.
Kumano Kodo
Norte
Hello all,

I'm slowly preparing for my first Camino and I've hit a bit of a moral issue. It feels kind of wrong for me to go on the Camino journey for religious and spiritual purposes and wear clothing made in some sweatshop in China or in Bangladesh.

Despite all my internet research, all I find are "sustainable", "environment-friendly" brands (the new trendy hip marketing keywords). I haven't found any brand or store that even pretends to offer decent work conditions and pay living wages to its workers.

While I simply don't have the financial capability to wear ethically produced clothes in everyday life, I would be willing to make a small investment for the Camino. I would be very grateful if someone here on the forum could share a brand they know can be trustworthy in that regard.

In case this helps, I live in Germany.

Thank you all in advance!
For me, walking camino is not what you wear but what is in your mind and heart.
 

frida1

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April 11-May 11 2014
I haven’t read all the replies in detail, but if they haven’t been suggested, there are a few brands to suggest. First is Patagonia. They have a human rights policy and sell used as well. Some companies that sell gear made in America are Zpack, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, Danner (boots), and Darn Tough (socks). At least made in America will guarantee a minimum wage, hours regulated by law, etc.

The prices may be high, and might cost a little more to ship to Europe, but these brands all have websites to check out. I sometimes by European brands and they seem to have shipping figured out.
 
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