From A to Ethical: A Series, Post 1
What is Ethical Fashion
Ethical fashion, also called sustainable fashion, is a term used to describe a whole new system of fashion. It strives to address social injustice, environmental impact and economic welfare.
There is no perfect way to practice sustainable fashion as it comes down to personal ethics. But there are many things you can do to have a positive impact on the fashion industry.
What’s wrong with fast fashion?
Ever heard of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh? Basically what happened was a garment factory caved in on itself due to structural failure and more than a thousand people died.
Fast fashion companies like H&M had workers in that factory. That day is when the world realised the negative impacts the fashion industry has.
It’s called fast fashion because these brands have a very fast turnover rate. Their aim is to make clothes as quickly and as cheaply as possible so they can sell them cheaply and quickly.
The quicker the turnover, the more profit. That is the system they are operating on.
Fast fashion brands outsource their production to countries where labour laws don’t protect their citizens. That way they don’t have to pay employee benefits and they only pay minimum wage, which is way below living wage.
The employees also have terrible working conditions. That is how they can sell their clothes so cheaply and make more so fast.
The fast fashion industry is also responsible for 1.2 billion tons of CO2 emissions per year and 92 million tons of global wastewater according to 7Billion for 7Sseas.
They produce about a billion garments a year, most of which ends up in landfill after only one season.
The different terms in Ethical Fashion
Ethical fashion is not the umbrella term for this new system, it’s just the one that’s used more often and is more familiar.
To me, ethical and sustainable mean the same thing because those are my values, but I want to clear up some confusion.
Sustainability means to provide for present generations whilst making sure future generations can also provide for themselves.
Mostly that concerns the environment because it is the biggest threat to future generations right now. But there are two other concerning factors at play in sustainability.
As I’m sure Millenials will tell you, the economy is also a very important factor. The last factor is the community and their preservation.
Sustainable fashion strives to lower the negative impact production has on the environment, create economic welfare and advocate for human rights and fair treatment.
Ethical fashion started being used as a term after the Rana Plaza collapse. It is concerned with human rights and animal rights.
Ethical fashion advocates for fair wages, treatment and working conditions of labourers, no child labour and no animal cruelty. Under this definition, it can be seen as a branch of sustainable fashion.
The slow fashion movement–
Slow fashion is not the opposite of fast fashion. It’s just a way of living that is more intentional, conscious and takes the entire process into consideration.
It ties in with ethical fashion because of its awareness of the impacts the fashion industry has on the social, environmental and economic elements.
It’s a lifestyle choice rather than a principle in garment production. Practising slow fashion means to shop less frequently and buy less clothing.
It’s also a long-term approach rather than a short-term, seasonal approach. That means to look for quality and not focus on quantity.
Circular fashion is used during garment production to eliminate waste and pollution. The materials are used as long as possible and recycled. This enables scarce natural resources to be preserved and regenerated.
Although it’s a term used to define garment production practices, circular fashion plays a large roll in society. It’s our responsibility to make sure our clothes stay circulated in society and not end up in landfill.
Greenwashing is when an organisation uses marketing gimmicks and other strategies to present themselves as environmentally responsible.
When in actual fact they are spending more money to create a false public image than actually implementing responsible practices.
The Fashion Revolution–
The Fashion Revolution was started after the Rana Plaza collapse. Each year there is an entire week around the 24th of April dedicated to demanding greater transparacy in the fashion industry.
It’s hosted by Fashion Revolution, a year-long, non-profit global movement with teams in over 100 countries.
They run the campaign #whomademyclothes, so if you’ve ever seen the hashtag on social media, you now know is behind it.
Their main focus is to change the fashion industry into one ‘that values people, the environment, creativity and profit, in equal measure.’ [source]
Why it’s so important to take part in the ethical movement
As consumers we vote with our money. With every purchase we vote for the kind of world that we want to live in.
By supporting local artisans and responsible fashion brands we are providing creatives with a living wage, causing less harm to the environment and sustaining the economy.
We are also bringing back the value that a garment has. In the past, clothing was considered an investment, something that was made to last a lifetime.
By investing in quality pieces we phase out the throwaway culture. And we can be happy with the items that are in our lives instead of overconsuming and having the feeling of emptiness we often get from ‘retail therapy’.
How to practice ethical fashion
As you might have noticed, practising ethical fashion is not as straightforward as it seems. There are so many variables to consider. And this post is getting too long to try and explain them all.
That is why I have created this series, From A to Ethical, to try and guide you through your ethical fashion journey.
next post, 7 Different ways to practice ethical fashion, will explain all the different ways you can practice ethical fashion and where to start.
I hope this post has helped you understand what ethical fashion is and why you should practice it.
If you have any more questions or anything to add, please feel free to tell me in the comments below. I will be really happy to hear from you.
Cheers for now,
Pin for later:
- 7 Different ways to practice ethical fashion
- How to implement circular fashion into your closet
- How to shop ethically on a student budget