Ethical fashion is a term which is multi-faceted and means different things to different people. It is an umbrella term to describe ethical fashion design, production, retail and purchasing. Various issues like exploitation, working conditions fair trade, sustainable production, the environment and animal welfare are covered in ethical fashion.
Why is Ethical fashion needed?
High street clothing industry describes for a massive share of Western retail. 100 million shoppers every year visit London’s Oxford Street alone. By globalization we mean that materials and labour can be purchased in various parts of the world where costs are very low. Growing cotton by industrialized methods means that fabrics in large quantities can be purchased quickly and cheaply. The customers’ gets these savings which means that high street fashion is available at increasingly low prices and much of it is said to be disposable. Ethical fashionistas argue that such products too have a cost which we are not able to see on the price tag.
When we make a purchase then each purchase made by us sends a message. When we spend money on ethical fashion, sustainable food or any area of our lives, each money we spend is a vote. By paying the money you are telling the company that you are satisfied with the way they are running the business. Thus your wallet has the power to effect positive change.
Fashion Purchases hits three areas
Fashion purchases usually have three areas and it depends on person to person when voting is done with your wallet. According to some, the big three factors to consider when it comes to ethical fashion are as follows:-
- Ethical fashion should be good for the people who produce it – Consider human rights and health of the worker who are involved in the supply chain. This means you should avoid clothing produces in sweat shops. Some people also avoid choosing clothing and accessories made from ethically-produced fabrics. For some it also means to avoid conventional cotton whenever there are more people-friendly fabrics like organic cotton, hemp and soy and bamboo.
- Ethical fashion should be good for the planet – This does not mean harping on conventional cotton but this is a material that is terrible for the planet. It makes use fo shocking amount of pesticides and water to grow which may be terrible for the surrounding ecosystems. Another area is the process of dying clothes which can be bad for the planet.
- Ethical fashion should be kind to animals – Every one of us will not agree to this, but clothing and accessories are ethical if their production exploits animals in any way. This means no leather, no wool, snake skin, silk, alligator or cashmere. This also includes beauty supplies that does not contain animal products and are not tested on animals either.
Issues around Ethical Fashion
The aim of ethical fashion is to address the problems it sees with the way fashion industry currently operates like environmental damage, exploitative labour, the use of hazardous chemicals, waste and animal cruelty.
- In the factory, serious concerns are raised frequently about exploitative working conditions the way cheap clothes are made for high street.
- Child workers and adults are exploited and can be subject to violence and abuse like forced overtime, unhygienic surroundings, bad food and very poor pay. Clothes with low cost on the high street denotes that less and less money is paid to the person who and actually made them.
- According to the Ethical Fashion Forum, cotton provides much of the world’s fabric and growing it uses 22.2% of the world’s pesticides. The chemicals can be dangerous for the environment and harmful to the farmers who grow them.
- The growing practices of the current textile are considered unsustainable due to the damage caused by them to the environment. For Example, the Aral Sea in Central Asia has reduced to 15% of its previous volume mainly due to the large quantity of water needed for cotton production and dying.
- The disposable nature and low costs of high street fashion shows that much of it is intended for furnaces or landfill sites. According to Waste Online, every year UK alone throws away 1 million tones of clothing.
- Chemicals are used in textile to soften and dye them and these chemicals can be toxic to the environment and can be transmitted to the skin of the people wearing them. In the textile industry, hazardous chemicals commonly used are nickel, lead, aryl amines, chromium, phthalates and formaldehyde.
- Furs are obtained from some of the animals and these are supplied to the fashion industry. Some people think that these furs are important part of the Ethical Fashion debate. Stella McCartney, designer does not use either fur or leather in her designs. In an advert for the animal rights organization PETA, she has said, “we address … ethical or ecological ….question s in every other part of our lives except fashion. Mind-sets are changing, though, which is encouraging.
Good News about Ethical Fashion
Some strict rules are hard to maintain and some rules can be broken from time to time since it is hard to find brands that get all three of these together. Have you ever brought a thing that does not necessarily hit all of your criteria for ethical clothing or accessories?
The good news is that there are brands which get things. Lur Apparel, a famous company is making ethical, beautiful clothing which you feel good about.
In short, consumers are educated by ethical fashion movement and people are becoming more aware of the dangers of industrial chemicals in their clothing, of environmental damages from some mainstream industrial practices and of the unsafe working conditions. People will develop a holistic approach to the idea of quality as they have with organic food. Value, ethics, workmanship, status, environmental and humanitarian concerns all become synonymous with quality. For each category, consumers do not make separate calculations. They only make one decision. When more people make a choice to support Ethical Fashion, the more such choices becomes standard.
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