Why I’m sick of sustainable and ethical fashion’s exclusionary marketing (ft. Automic Gold)

Automic Gold - ethical and sustainable fine jewelry review

In this digital age of social media and inescapable advertising, we’re bombarded with images—and often, it’s the same type of images being thrown at us of skinny, attractive people looking effortless yet somehow perfectly put together.

Constantly seeing these impossibly perfect images can lead to mental health issues, including low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy (not to mention FOMO!). Honestly, I’ve been down the Insta rabbit hole of scrolling other girls’ perfectly curated feeds and well-lit selfies, coming out of it with nothing but body image problems and anxiety about the number of followers or likes I had.

Besides the models and bloggers you follow on Insta, the fashion industry is the worst offender of creating unrealistic expectations of beauty through the images they create and promote.

The sustainable and ethical fashion world is just as guilty of this as the rest of the fashion industry. I’ve discussed the lack of people of color in sustainable and ethical fashion before, but the industry also largely excludes non-thin bodies and non-cis people from its marketing.

Sustainable and ethical fashion’s exclusionary marketing makes conscious fashion seem elitist, when we should be trying to make it more accessible for all folks. If sustainable and ethical brands truly want to be part of a movement and not just ride the greenwashing wave for capitalistic gains, they need to do their part to make the movement more welcoming and accessible.

And I love beautiful editorial images as much as the next person, but I’m sick of seeing the same immaculately lit photos of thin, conventionally attractive models with smooth airbrushed skin (think Reformation and Everlane).

I want to see the products I believe in, modeled on people who look like me—and you deserve to see products you believe in, modeled on people who look like you, no matter your body type, gender, or ethnicity.

That’s why I’m excited to introduce you to Automic Gold, a brand with a refreshing and honest approach to marketing! They believe that companies should take responsibility for the kinds of images they create, especially when those images can have such a powerful impact.

About Automic Gold

Automic Gold - ethical and sustainable fine jewelry

Automic Gold uses diverse people as models, including people of color and trans and gender nonconforming folks. Their images aren’t Photoshopped, so you’re seeing how their jewelry will look on a real human being, in real life, not on an airbrushed model or in a perfectly curated flatlay.

In addition, their fine jewelry is ethically and sustainably made in NYC from reclaimed gold. Gold mining is an environmentally damaging industry (and not just kind of bad…it’s like, really fucking awful), so I like to look for fair trade or recycled gold jewelry.

All pieces are made from 14k solid gold, so they don’t tarnish easily or lose their color like gold-plated jewelry. I’ve bought tons of cheap, gold-plated jewelry in the past and have been so disappointed when the pieces began to lose their color or tarnish within months or even weeks, so I think the investment in solid gold is truly worth it.

Finally, Automic Gold is LGBTQ-owned!

Ethical everyday jewelry

At heart, I am a creature of comfort. Although I blog about fashion and post photos of myself wearing different outfits all the time, I actually default to the same comfortable outfits during the week when I’m not creating content for my blog. I rarely wear accessories in my everyday looks because I always forget to put them on, or they become uncomfortable throughout the day.

So when Automic Gold reached out to me and told me that their jewelry is meant to be ultra low maintenance and comfortable—pieces you can wear to sleep, in the shower, even at the gym if you forget to take them off—I was intrigued!

Atomic Gold gifted me their Bead Chain Ring ($39) and let me try on their entire earrings collection, from which I decided to keep the Dainty Dangle Earrings ($55 single, $99 pair).

The Bead Chain Ring is a flexible, dainty little loop made of tiny beads linked together. I don’t really know how to describe the beads; they’re not spheres but instead have some flat and angular surfaces which reflect light to create a sparkly, almost shimmering effect. I honestly gasped when I took it out of the box!

I wore the ring to sleep, in the shower, and when I washed my face with zero discomfort. It also fits my tiny fingers!!! I usually hate wearing rings due to how difficult it is to find my size and how uncomfortable they can be, but this ring has converted me.

The Dainty Dangle Earrings look like something Mejuri would carry. They’re minimal and understated yet so perfect for everyday. I was surprised by how elegant they look! I already know they’ll become my new everyday favorites.

I think that the pieces are also fairly priced for being ethical and 14k solid gold.

Some of my other favorites (pictured above, starting from the top clockwise):

  • Chain Loop Earrings: Just like the Dainty Dangles, but without a bar for a more minimal look.
  • Circle Earrings: A classic, comfortable piece for everyday wear and available in different sizes.
  • Circle Threader: A versatile piece for those with multiple ear piercings! I love how it looks threaded through two piercings and wrapped around the earlobe; it looks like your ear is dripping with gold.

Be sure to check out Automic Gold’s beautiful pieces here and send them some love!

What do you think about the sustainable and ethical fashion industry’s approach to marketing? Do you think brands have a responsibility to include more diversity in their ads and images? And what would you like to see more of in fashion imagery (diversity in age, body type, ethnicity, etc.)?

Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Automic Gold. I received a fee and was gifted products in exchange for my creative work (styling, photography and writing) and an honest review. No amount of money or product is worth more than my relationship with you, and I strive to provide transparent and honest content.

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28 thoughts on “Why I’m sick of sustainable and ethical fashion’s exclusionary marketing (ft. Automic Gold)”

  • I couldn’t agree with this more: “Sustainable and ethical fashion’s exclusionary marketing makes conscious fashion seem elitist, when we should be trying to make it more accessible for all folks. If sustainable and ethical brands truly want to be part of a movement, they need to do their part to make the movement more welcoming and accessible.”
    I have been trying to find a balance somewhere in between, making sustainability seem more mainstream and appealing than the “DIY, granola idea” people have of it, while also staying away from the image of elitist perfection that fashion imagery often implies.

    • Yes, I know what you mean! I think that sustainable and ethical brands that advertise themselves as more “high fashion” have done very well, but I think they could also lead the way in changing what “high fashion” looks like and what bodies can wear high fashion.

  • This truly resonated with me. A few months ago a brand reached out to me in hopes that I would “check out” their sustainable collection since it fit the style I often write about in my blog. When I inquired about partnership, they told me I didn’t fit their “look” which I found ironic. I continued to browse their feed and website and finally realized ALL of their models were white, and thin. I am a woman of color and what some would consider curvy. Just last saw they had collaborated with a friend of mine instead- A white slim musician who has shared no interest in sustainability. It made me wonder if we could truly consider a brand “conscious” if they are not inclusive.

    Anyway- loved the post, and especiallu love the minimalist jewelry!! ❤️

    • That’s so horrible! I’m so sorry that happened to you. Sadly I’m learning that just because a brand is sustainable or ethical doesn’t mean that they are truly progressive in all aspects, and I don’t think that brand could be considered “conscious” at all!

  • I totally hear you babe. I wish the fashion industry would reflect a real expression of men and women out there. We are so many colors, body types, and genders.

  • This is so interesting! The words sustainable and ethical are used so often these days, and it is something to think about that this could be a really great marketing tool for companies. Thanks for spotlighting this issue, hopefully companies get push back from consumers enough that they will change and improve!

    • Yes, I think that companies that are working towards better environmental and ethical practices do want to do better, so let’s keep pushing for change and hope for the best 🙂

  • This is a great article and I’m glad you shed some light on it. It is depressing to see this “perfect” girls and the idea that they always seem so happy w/ little effort. The fashion industry has gotten a little better about widen their variety of body types but it’s definitely still not 100%. And I love all the jewelry you featured! Stay strong, you are beautiful! And again, thank you for writing this post!

    • Absolutely agree that constantly seeing those images can have a negative effect on how we see ourselves, and that the fashion industry has improved but still has a long way to go. Thank you!

  • I definitely believe that the focus of perfection is inundating our industries and causing some harsh consequences. I don’t know a woman yet who hasn’t struggled with her image.

    • Me, too. It’s awful knowing how much the women I love have been hurt by societal messages that tell them they’re not good enough.

  • Ooh, I remember you told me about these pieces and Automic Gold. They seem like a very cool brand. Love the light play in these photos though!

    • Yes, I really love the pieces I kept! And the brand values are so thoughtful in this age where we’re always being pressured to buy things we don’t need. Thank you!

  • This is a great article. As a straight cis white person, the exclusionary marketing isn’t something that jumps out at me right off the bat, but I totally see it now that I read this article. Atomic Gold sounds like a great brand, and their jewellery is beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Great post with some good thoughts. I totally agree with you. I think there is a high focus on perfection and the messaging needs to change.

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