The words ethical and sustainable are too often used interchangeably and it’s useful to separate them into two clearly defined categories: ‘Ethical’ referring to people and ‘Sustainable’ referring to the environment.
What is ‘Ethical’ Fashion?
‘Ethical' fashion refers to garments that have been produced in an environment that is conscious and engaged in the many social issues the fashion industry affects.
What specific issues are we talking about when we use the phrase ethical fashion?
- Access to a living wage
- Working conditions/ hours
- Human rights (child labour, gender equality, the right to unionise)
- Health and safety
It’s actually incredibly simple: as consumers of fashion, we expect a certain standard of living and treatment in the places where we work. At the moment, these expectations of ours do not extend to the lives of the people who make our clothes. Today, our addiction to cheap clothing is so strong, that it’s overriding the most basic concepts of human rights.
What part of the supply chain are we talking about more specifically when we discuss ethics and fashion?
As the fashion industry has grown and become more fragmented over the years, it has become rife with ethical and social issues.
The clothing supply chain is a complex one and the image above shows a simplified version. Along this supply chain are many people.
When ethics is discussed within the context of fashion, it most often refers to the treatment of people in the stages of raw material, processing and manufacture - activities typically carried out in the developing world.
Understood in a broader sense, it also refers to wages and working conditions in the retail sector as well as issues surrounding body image and the modelling industry.
10 brands that are good to buy from:
Want to know more about ethical fashion?
Good articles to read, videos to watch and podcasts to listen to, to further understand ethics and fashion
REMAKE + Connective Human Stories (consciouschatter.com, Jun 17 -podcast approx 30mins)
The forward of The Circle Calls for Three-trillion-dollar Fashion Industry to Pay Living Wage (thecircle.ngo, May 17)
Is there a difference between ethical and sustainable fashion? (refinery29.uk, Apr 17)
Ethical Fashion 101: The Top 5 Ethical Issues In The Fashion Industry (ecowarriorprincess.net, Sep 16)
Never Forget Rana Plaza (remake.world, Apr 16)
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