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What is ethical fashion?

OK, Have you heard the term fast fashion? Well, just like fast food, it’s not all that good for you or the environment. Unlike ethical fashion, fast fashion is not ethical or sustainable. It contributes to environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, poor working conditions in developing countries, unsafe work practices and animal cruelty.

The environmental effects that fast fashion has is huge with over consumption leading to more waste than ever before. That’s why more than ever today more and more brands are becoming more conscious of the fact that we all have a social responsibility to do our bit to help the planet.

Fashion also has a huge impact on the environment. It requires large amounts of water, energy and land to grow fibres such as cotton. It can sometimes be a thirsty, polluting, energy intensive and a wasteful business. Think about what you want your impact to be on the planet.

Ok, so what is ethical fashion? Also coined as the term “slow fashion” is the new movement that’s working to stomp out inhumane conditions impacting the fashion industry.

Ethical Fashion is part of a growing design philosophy with the goal to create a system that cares about fashion’s environmental impact and social responsibility.

For a list of a Ethical brands that are doing their part for the planet, check out Ethical Clothing Australia’s site for an almost exhaustive list.

Why should I care?

The fashion industry is a massive industry with a estimated worth of $2.4 trillion dollars, according to McKinsey Global Fashion Index. With those numbers in mind, there is no doubt that fashion, or more so, textiles and materials has a huge impact on the world and the environment.

The problem with the current state of fashion relates to the the environmental issues. This includes issues such as waste, water, energy, chemicals animal welfare. Read Introduction to Fashion’s Key Environmental Issues for an in depth look at fashion’s impact on the planet.

Ethical fashion looks to tackles these issues and in most cases , ethical fashion adopts better quality textiles and materials like hemp and bamboo which are designed to last. Also the textiles and materials used to make the fabrics are made from organic products like cotton, so less nasty pesticides, if any are used in the growing process.

What are unsafe work conditions? You may recall in 2013 in Bangladesh when the Rana Plaza, an eight storey commercial garment factory collapsed due to unsafe structural problems. Ethical fashion is not just about the planet and environmental impacts but also social responsibility like working conditions. Safe working conditions that also take into account fair wages, ethical people practices, social security and much more.

Ethical fashion is also speaking about animal cruelty like fur farming. You care about animals, don’t you? So, I’m guessing a few of you have adopted a healthier lifestyle consisting of a vegetarian, vegan or plant-based diet. So in most cases you do give a shit about animal cruelty. So choosing to purchase from ethical brands is the right thing to do.

Ultimately, if  you give a shit about environment, people, animals and the future, then you really need to care about how we look at fashion and the industry as a whole today. At the rate that we’re going the future wont be around for long.

A few Challenges we face

There are a few challenges we face at the moment with ethical fashion. Challenges like lack of comprehensive labeling practices, similar to that of organic food industry. The causes a lack of transparency and creates a disconnect with trusting what the industry and media try to sell to us.

An important challenge with the ethical fashion industry is ensuring transparency and ethical practices across the whole supply chain and not just the producers. Blockchain startups like A transparent Company are tackling these issues to provide more transparency and trust. Check Techwire’s article for more info on transparency in the fashion supply chain.

Also, slow growth and scaling of cleaner technologies and low-impact materials.

There is also the perception or misconception that ethical fashion is unfashionable or derelict.

Some have had an experience with ethical brands being overly expensive, when they shouldn’t be. I believe that if you designing for this space, you also need to take into account that ethical does not equal overpriced but at the same time better quality practices do incur more cost.

What can I do to help?

Bouycott clothing labels and fashion outfits that are found out to be unethical.

Make a conscious effort to always check labels and research the brands you are buying.

Support the industry and follow the news in the ethical fashion industry.

Overall we all need to start giving a shit, for the environment, the people, animals and the planet.

Doing our bit

We have become so passionate about doing our bit to help that we looking at starting our own clothing label.

Our clothing label will be called IGAF. Which stands for I Give A Fist, I know, some might think it’s, I give a fuck, which it could be but it’s also a brand for kids as well so we have to minimize the explicit content.

For the time being, check out a few designs we made in collaboration using organic cotton with ethical suppliers at our online shop.

If you want more help with checking ethical clothing brands, check out the handy app, Goodonyou app available on App Store or Google Play.

That’s it for now but we will continue our fight to do our bit.

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