By Emily Reed – Fashion PR student
Like many things in life, the above question will mean different things to different people. For me, ethical fashion represents moral practices in fashion from the manufacture of clothing to the sustainable materials used and right through to the welfare of workers, both making the garments and selling them.
“If you describe something as ethical, you mean that it is morally right or morally acceptable.” Collins English Dictionary
Many well-known brands including H&M, Nike, Gap and Primark have all come under question about their less-than ethical approach to manufacturing their goods. Unfortunately this is a mere fraction of the big names have that been outed in the past few years for their damaging behaviours. I probably don’t need to go into too much detail because you must of all heard about at least one of these company’s scandals, all may I add have involved misbehaviour of their employees.
We can all do our part in improving the ethical practices within the fashion industry. Think about it, if their wasn’t such a high demand for fast, disposable fashion, then companies wouldn’t need to keep churning out this clothes at any cost.
In the past few years many consumers have become more aware of “eco-fashion”, I for one definitely have, whether it’s because I just hear about unethical practices more in the news or because it’s simply happening more. In my opinion, ‘sweatshops’ have most likely always been an issue, whether it’s something we have all been mildly aware about but chosen to ignore or something that has increased with the sudden raising demand for cheap, throw-away fashion.
So what can we all do to help?
Whilst, unfortunately, we can’t directly improve the working conditions for the people making the clothes we wear everyday there are still things we can do.
If you’re not happy about the practices your favourite brand undertakes, let them know! Social media is one of the best ways to do this because you are able to contact the brand straightaway 24hours a day. In most cases they will respond because they don’t want to seem like they don’t care in front of all their followers.
If you really feel strongly about something a brand is doing, or not doing in some cases, boycott them, simple. Stop giving them your custom and shop somewhere with morals that match yours!
Reuse and up-cycle! Charity shops are a great way to shop ethically; another persons rubbish is another fashion-lovers treasure! Charity shops can have a surprising nest of goodies for fashionista’s! I’ve found some of my favourite items in charities shops!
Shop ethically! Do your research; there are some great fashion houses around that pride themselves in their sustainable clothing, organic materials and ethical working rights. Their products may be slightly higher than say Primark, but you’re paying a little more for the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing good!
People Tree pride themselves in slow fashion and “standing up against exploitation”. Shop their latest collections here.
BrainTree are on a mission to do good in everything they do, from manufacturing, to selling and even delivering, “Wear Me, Love Me, Mend Me, Pass Me On” help them on their mission by shopping their products!
Fashion giants ASOS are trying to do their bit with their page solely dedicated to eco fashion, shop ASOS Eco Edits now!
Small changes can make a big difference and if everyone made just one change to their routine who knows what the future could hold! I’d love to hear your stories or thoughts on the subject, comment away…