‘Ethical Fashion’ seems to be the buzzword on everyone’s lips these days, but what exactly does it mean? And more importantly, how does Ethical Fashion apply to me? According to the Ethical Fashion Forum’s definition: “ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximises benefits to people and communities while minimising impact on the environment. If you describe something as ethical, you mean that it is morally right or morally acceptable. Collins English Dictionary”
For something to be deemed ‘Ethical’ the brand is rated and scored usually against three main areas: People & Worker’s rights, Community & Environment, and Animal Welfare.
You may have already known this, but many of the stores we shop at on a regular basis do not provide enough information around the treatment of their workers overseas, nor do they provide relevant information on contributing to environmental sustainability and animal welfare. It’s a customer’s right to know how the products they purchase have an impact in these areas – which begs the question, what are they hiding?
It can be really overwhelming to look at these areas of impact all at once. We don’t have to change everything in our lives to support ethical fashion, but we can do something. One step at a time. It’s definitely not easy at times for the style-makers to make a choice like this. As ethical fashion continues to rise, many retailers and brands are still in the woods and not open to discussing their policies and fair work laws. Not to mention, the brands that are doing the right thing are still very much in the minority.
If you’re already buying from brands that are deemed ‘ethical’, good on you – keep up the good work! But if you’d like to start shopping more consciously and have no idea where to start, keep on reading for some tips.
Focus on changing one thing in your style/shopping habits
Maybe you’ll commit to buying only organic, fair-trade cotton shirts from a reputable source. Or you’ll stop shopping at one store in particular that you know doesn’t uphold ethical working wages. Just pick one area to start with and slowly increase as you feel comfortable.
Look up your favourite stores, online and off, and see what they have to say about sustainability. If you’re really intrigued you can even write them an email. There’s an Australian app called Good On You that has list of over 3000 international brands that provides rankings against each brand’s commitment to sustainability. It’s a really great tool to find other ethical fashion designers plus they are constantly adding new labels to their list.
Thrift your heart out
Buying pre-loved clothing is an awesome way of recycling good-quality fashion and paying a third of the price for it. You’ll be lowering your carbon footprint by buying already made clothing, preventing it from being thrown into landfill, as well as reducing the resources needed to create new clothing. Extra plus – it’s tax deductible when purchasing from a charity store!
Support upcoming designers
There are quite a few brands coming out of the wood works that desire to make positive change and impact in the fashion industry whilst maintaining good style. Browse Kickstarter for any campaigns currently running and donate to their project. I’m seriously loving Vetta and their campaign at the moment.
I’ve done a little research myself and created a short-list of brands making a conscious effort to provide ethical fashion:
You can also take the Slavery Footprint quiz which tells you how many slaves you have working for you in order to maintain your current lifestyle. Confronting I know! But as I said earlier, don’t be overwhelmed by wanting to change everything at once. Just start with one thing and be good at that.
Do you know of any other labels that are making a conscious effort to promote ethical fashion? What’s something you’re currently doing to stand with EF? Write it in the comments.
– Image by Redd Angelo