Understanding Ethical Fashion

No simple definition exists.

You're probably already aware with the terms fast fashion, sustainable fashion, and slow fashion if you've been reading The Good Trade for a time.

However, some of the terms associated with ethical fashion are naturally irritating to both industry insiders and customers.

What is morality? How is it measured, too? We may all agree that morality helps us become better individuals, but what exactly does that mean?

Even though the answers are ambiguous, they encourage us to have a thorough conversation about what ethical fashion may entail and how we, as customers, can encourage firms to be more open.

The outcome, like the entire movement, is much more about ideals than it is about regulations.

Although sustainable fashion has been gaining popularity for some time, the tide has finally turned and both insiders and outsiders of the fashion business can no longer deny its influence.

In 2019, there has been an excessive amount of media talk about sustainable fashion, especially after Fashion Week events that brought attention to sustainability challenges.

As a result, there is a lot to take in, and occasionally, customers are engaging in hitherto unheard dialogues about fashion.

For instance, grave violations of human rights and irreparable environmental damage.

As it turns out, fashion is far more complicated than pencil skirts and shoulder pads, and all the greenwashing makes it difficult to locate ethical and sustainable apparel.

It's important for everyone to understand what constitutes really ethical and sustainable fashion, even though the path to sustainability isn't always straightforward.

Exactly that is what this article teaches you, from looking at the basic materials utilised to the procedures followed all the way down the supply chain.

In order for you to assess if a clothing company or item is truly ethical, we want to inform you (and ourselves) on the problematic state of the industry as it stands today.

So What Exactly Is Ethical Fashion?

The overarching definition: The goal of ethical fashion is to create and produce clothing with consideration for individuals, groups, and the environment.

Every step of the design and supply chain, in an ideal world, a brand would take into account environmental effect, animal welfare, and human rights. However, it isn't always the case.

The welfare of the labourers and workers participating in the process is the foundation of ethical fashion.

As a result of the aforementioned reasons, it is clear how ethical fashion may complement sustainable fashion by giving workers less dangerous environments.

Ethical fashion as a movement works to stop inhumane working conditions that cause accidents, sickness, and slavery.

Receiving a liveable salary under the correct circumstances is also a component of ethical fashion.

Obviously, the salaries must be sufficient to support the workers and their families, but they also must be able to significantly enhance their quality of life on a daily basis.

Child labour is estimated to be practised by 170 million people worldwide, which brings up another important subject: worker and child exploitation.

There are organisations in place to address exploitation in nations and factories as a result of these abhorrent behaviours.

Workers and labourers have a right to decent working conditions and fair pay. As a consumer, you support endorsed practises that benefit everyone from the bottom up by choosing an ethical brand to purchase from.

The Evolving Definition Of Ethical Fashion

Designing, making, and distributing clothing in an ethical manner minimises the harm done to people and the environment.

In a perfect world, it benefits everyone who works in the supply chain and improves the future of everyone, not just the wealthy few.

Although the term "ethics" in this context is ambiguous, ethical fashion is concerned with societal impact and the principles that underlie a brand's label.

The recently invented expression is regarded as the antithesis of quick fashion.

Consumers typically use the term "ethical fashion" to refer to a movement against an industry that is infamous for underpaying workers—and doing so in hazardous conditions.

Who created this garment, for example, is a question ethical fashion aims to address. additionally, "Does that person make a fair living wage?" It is, however, much more than that.

In 2020, customers will have spent more than seven billion hours looking for "sustainable," "ethical," "fair trade," and "eco-friendly" goods online, according to WWD. In addition, quick fashion had a particularly challenging year.

According to Edited, a retail industry analytics company, "new product launches for Q3 2020 were 11% lower than in 2019" in the U.S. and U.K. combined.

This might be a sign of a transition and fall in the fast fashion sector, or it could just mean that production has stopped as a result of the epidemic. According to WWD, it might be a little of both.

With its promise of never-ending trends, outrageously low pricing, and the convenience and accessibility that have resulted, the fast fashion business has captured the attention of the entire world.

With the press of a mouse, we are now accustomed to receiving incredibly inexpensive apparel that is produced in fresh styles every single week.

We're constructing homes with closets the size of bedrooms and use "disposable" apparel at a never-before-seen pace. Ethical fashion is a remedy for the negative environmental and social effects of fast fashion.

The idea of ethical fashion is becoming more popular, yet it is still unclear why we should care and what it actually entails. In the end, various people have varied definitions of ethical fashion. We all emphasise distinct morals and values that, as people, we identify with, and we all have different ethics.

Of course, proponents of ethical fashion are hoping for the first scenario, but it may also rely on how rapidly genuine ethical firms can communicate with customers clearly.

Consumers frequently become confused and readily susceptible to greenwashing without clear information from fashion firms on how, where, and by whom clothing is created. They may also incorrectly understand a brand's specific ethics.

The best approach for brands to help clear up misunderstanding is through certifications, in-depth reports, and honest responses to consumer questions.

Ethical Vs Sustainable

Different brands approach responsible production in different ways.

It's crucial to remember, nevertheless, that ecologically sustainable production is not always ethical production.

A fashion company may uphold human rights, yet its textiles and environmental policies may not be environmentally friendly.

On the other hand, a brand may be environmentally friendly while utterly disregarding human rights.

And if you add in the morality of animal rights, you have a very different problem to think about.

Navigating The Current Ethical Fashion Space Is Difficult, And That’s An Understatement

Is it better to purchase clothing created by workers who are given a liveable wage, or should I choose this sustainable hemp skirt instead of something with a murky history?

Should you boycott a business that has first- and second-tier suppliers that have been ethically vetted but doesn't know who created the zippers?

Do you purchase the vegan "leather" handbag despite the fact that it was probably produced in a sweatshop with the use of poisonous dyes and polyurethane (PU), which won't disintegrate any time soon and can't be recycled?

It also leaves a sizable carbon imprint, therefore the fashion industry must immediately alter its unsustainable practises if we're going to combat the existential threat posed by climate change.

We won't have a fashion industry in the future if we don't start addressing the negative effects of the sector soon.

One of the most polluting sectors of the global economy is the fashion industry. However, some companies recently declared their intent to achieve complete "circular" status by 2030. Do you believe a zero-waste fashion industry is possible?

A sustainable fashion industry is something we must strive for.

We do not, however, believe that zero-waste will be a solution to every issue facing the fashion industry.

We'll need to consider cutting back on our consumption as a global industry and culture, as well as shifting to more circular production models.

However, the circular economy is a very intriguing topic that we need to investigate further.

Following commitments from companies like Burberry, Gucci, and Versace to go fur-free, London Fashion Week this year forbade designers from using animal fur on its catwalks.

While this is going on, businesses like Adidas and G-Star RAW have created clothing made from ocean plastic; in fact, Adidas sold over a million pieces of its "Parley" line in 2017.

So why is it crucial to source sustainable materials?

Many of the materials used often in the fashion industry nowadays, as you indicated, require a lot of resources.

For instance, polyester is derived from non-renewable resources like oil and cotton needs a lot of water to manufacture.

There are other materials as well, such as viscose, which on a large scale contributes to deforestation and has an impact on the habitats of endangered species and old trees.

Therefore, we must work to discover and create more environmentally friendly materials because both the fashion industry and the earth depend on it.

The fact is that if we continue to use resources in this manner, they won't be available to us.

One cotton t-shirt requires roughly 3,000 litres of water to produce. How serious is the issue of waste, especially water waste, in the apparel industry, and what can be done to solve it?

One of the biggest issues facing the fashion business is waste. Every year, industries crank out one hundred billion goods.

As a result, we purchase more clothing today than ever before before throwing it in the trash.

Every year, consumers in North America alone discard waste that is as heavy as the Empire State Building. This garbage is subsequently burned or dumped in landfills, neither of which are sustainable.

It is very wasteful and a sign of poor resource management if you have to burn your product to get rid of it.

That needs to alter immediately. There won't be any more room if we continue to overflowing our landfills or exporting our used clothing to other nations.

Waste management is a shared obligation that requires immediate attention.

Particularly significant is the issue of water waste. The Aral Sea, which was once the fourth-largest lake in the world but has dried up mostly as a result of cotton growing, is one of the most remarkable examples of this.

Thankfully, there are new, creative approaches to dying clothing that don't include hot water.

What is the difference between ethical, slow, and sustainable fashion?

01: Ethical fashion

Starting with ethical clothing.

Everyone has a different definition of what constitutes ethical fashion, which varies. The ultimate definition of ethical fashion is clothing that "aims to decrease the negative impact on people, animals, and the world," yet the fundamentals of ethical fashion remain the same.

Ethical fashion takes into account the rights of those who create the clothing, the animals from whom some materials may be sourced, and any potential environmental effects that doing so may have.

At the end of the day, our moral standards are our own, and they can determine how we behave morally as people.

02: Slow fashion

Slow fashion is a movement that aims to slow down the time between a consumer's need for clothing and the end of a garment's life. It is both a way of thinking and a way of producing clothing.

We only need to look at its antithesis, quick fashion, to begin to comprehend it a little more.

The goal of slow fashion is for consumers to develop a connection with the apparel they purchase, in contrast to fast fashion, which focuses on producing as many styles as possible in the shortest amount of time.

Furthermore, slow fashion companies produce their clothes in smaller quantities and with greater thought, using made-to-order models.

03: Sustainable fashion

Then there is fashion that is sustainable. The goal of sustainable fashion is to establish a sector of the fashion industry that is solely focused on advancing socially and environmentally responsible fashion.

Sustainability permeates every facet of an innovative, sustainably run business, from its resources to its environmental practises; sustainable fashion businesses are no exception.

On this planet, there is only room for these businesses.

Although slow fashion, sustainable fashion, and ethical fashion are all critically important on their own, when they come together, they become unstoppable, kind of like Destiny's Child.

Abuse, exploitation, and sweatshops wouldn't be necessary in our supply chains if all of the guiding principles for each of these fashion ideas were combined to form some sort of magic business model.

Although slow fashion, sustainable fashion, and ethical fashion all have different characteristics, their overall objectives are all the same.

Why is ethical fashion important?

Because the purchasing pattern we have grown accustomed to is wholly unsustainable, ethical fashion is crucial.

We already know how harmful the long-term repercussions may be to both the planet's and its inhabitants' health.


According to The True Cost, the global population now consumes 400% more clothing than it did at the turn of the millennium, cotton production uses 25% of the world's insecticides and 18% of its pesticides, and the resources needed to raise cattle for leather production have a significant negative impact on the health of our planet.

Additionally, the manufacturing of fast fashion pollutes all types of water bodies and "is responsible for producing 20% of global effluent." Additionally, 97% of fast fashion apparel is produced abroad, with a focus on poor nations (thank you for this info, 7Billion for 7Seas). These are only a handful of the factors that make ethical fashion crucial.

Garment workers

Bangladesh experienced the Rana Plaza catastrophe, or the collapse of the Dhaka garment factory, on April 24, 2013. 1,134 people were killed when the building, which housed garment factories and other businesses, fell.

These individuals, including the kids who were being looked after while their moms worked in the plant, totalled more than half women.

The day before the collapse, cracks in the structure were found.

However, the building's owner disregarded requests to stop utilising it, forcing the industry to resume as usual for the garment workers.

This unfortunate occurrence is a bitter reminder of the value of ethical creation that ought never to have happened.

Fast fashion is to blame for the mistreatment and exploitation of both the people who manufacture our clothes and the planet's natural resources.

The Rana Plaza catastrophe is only one of many examples of why fashion ethics are important. Garment workers—80% of whom are women—are vulnerable to all types of abuse as well as hazardous and unjust working conditions.

The skin is our largest organ, as we all know. Something doesn't make sense, despite the fact that we are quite careful and spend thousands of dollars on the skin care products we use.

We don't seem to realise that the garments we buy from our favourite fast-fashion stores are covered in chemicals throughout the entire production process and end up on our bodies. Just some fuel for thought there.

The only fashion model that should exist on our world is ethical fashion, from both a social and environmental perspective.

First of all, since we are all human, we should care about ethical fashion. Second, we should care about ethical fashion because we want to live on this lovely world indefinitely.

Mother Earth cannot support our current rate of resource consumption. Last but not least, we should care about ethical fashion since "the best cloth has no beauty if it causes starvation and unhappiness."

The Solution Is More Brand Transparency

I've come to the following two conclusions: Let consumers define ethical fashion for themselves in accordance with their own set of beliefs, and require firms to commit to transparency instead of using catchphrases.

Since the fashion industry as a whole is constantly changing, it is pointless to try and come up with a single, timeless definition for concepts like ethical fashion.

Certain things are unquestionably a given, such as safe working conditions and fair wages. But there is a lot more that can be categorised as "ethical." Perhaps buying used items is more important to you than buying brand-new ethically created clothing since you can't justify the expense.

Or perhaps your primary goal is buying vegan clothing. When everyone has different values, it is difficult to define. It is practically impossible to simplify the problem or provide a precise definition because the movement is still developing and learning new things.

Clothing firms must decide which principles are most important to their brand rather than focusing on what they believe consumers want to hear (a difficult task). They should present all the information, including the good, the terrible, and the ugly.

Consumers in the Millennial and Gen Z generations, who care about transparency and authenticity, are more likely to be interested in a firm that is honest. Brands are more likely to receive praise than criticism the more information they offer.

Questions and Answers About Ethical Swimwear

What is ethical fashion ?

Ethical fashion seeks to address the issues it identifies with the way the fashion business now functions, such as animal cruelty, waste, hazardous chemical use, and exploitative labour.

Why is ethics needed in fashion?

It's crucial for companies who promote sustainable and ethical fashion to honour their pledge. By doing this, they may gain customers' trust and sustain the moral standards of the business. Sustainability applies to the entire fashion industry, from production to retail stores, not just the environment.

Why is ethical sustainable clothing important?

Clothing is produced without the use of pollution and with natural energy. Ethical fashion enables you to lessen your impact on the environment and engage in safer, more sustainable techniques, even while it may not be able to address all of our issues with hazardous chemicals, scarce water supplies, excessive energy use, or overflowing landfills.

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