Let’s answer a few burning questions: “what is ethical fashion?” and tomorrow, “If you’re only wearing ten things, what ARE you wearing?”
What Is Ethical Fashion?
Ethical fashion includes clothes whose makers seek to address at least one (but usually more) of the issues involved in fashion today.- Stop Traffick Fashion
Ethical Fashion aims to address the problems it sees with the way the fashion industry currently operates, such as exploitative labor, environmental damage, the use of hazardous chemicals, waste, and animal cruelty. – Victoria and Albert Museum
The museum expanded on some of the issues involved with fashion today:
Serious concerns are often raised about exploitative working conditions in the factories that make cheap clothes for the high street.
Child workers, alongside exploited adults, can be subjected to violence and abuse such as forced overtime, as well as cramped and unhygienic surroundings, bad food, and very poor pay. The low cost of clothes on the high street means that less and less money goes to the people who actually make them.
Cotton provides much of the world’s fabric, but growing it uses 22.5% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of the world’s pesticides, chemicals which can be dangerous for the environment and harmful to the farmers who grow it. (Ethical Fashion Forum)
The low costs and disposable nature of high street fashion means that much of it is destined for incinerators or landfill sites. The UK alone throws away 1 million tones of clothing every year. (Waste Online)
Many animals are farmed to supply fur for the fashion industry, and many people feel that their welfare is an important part of the Ethical Fashion debate.
Some companies choose to focus on one aspect, such as environmental concerns, while others focus on providing a fair wage, but most of the issues are connected. For example, using certain chemicals may be bad for the environment, but they might also create a hazardous and unsafe workplace in the factory.
There are several types of ethically made clothing to address those specific issues:
- Vegan: not made with any animal products, such as leather
- Ethically produced: includes fair trade and organic certifications, clothing made with respect for people and the environment
- Craft/Artisan: skillfully handmade products
- Custom: made-to-order, “slow” fashion
- Recycled: made from existing materials, often former garments reworked into new ones
- Vintage/Second hand: using what’s already in the system, and supporting local communities and businesses
In this series, we’ll talk about several of those types of ethical clothing, especially focusing on ethically produced, craft/artisan, recycled, and vintage/second hand. Not that I don’t care about animals, because I am an animal lover, but for the purposes of this series, I’m focusing on people.
So, what am I wearing this month? Come back tomorrow to find out!
Are you already buying any of the types of ethically produced clothes mentioned above? Tell us if and why you do in the comments!