How we dress is an expression of what we stand for, if not who we are. And how we want to be perceived is partially (or entirely) build around how we dress. In recent times, like science, fashion is moving at such a rate that we can barely take a deep breath before a new trend takes over. Traditionally, new fashion lines were introduced seasonally but now it seems theres something new in the shops every day. I mean, look no further than the ‘just in’ section of your favourite online shop. But all this comes at what cost? Rarely do we stop to think about the implications this has on the society or the environment.
This is something that I have started to think about more seriously in recent years. Every item of clothing we buy has an impact on our planet and it is an important issue. First theres water consumption, did you know that a typical pair of jeans uses 7,000 litres of water to produce? There are also incredulous amounts of dangerous chemicals that goes into our fabrics and fast fashion also affects different aspects of the environment. The environmental impact is detrimental but the social implication is also difficult to ignore. The events that happened on 24 April 2013, where 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed was what really drew my attention to just how bad the issue was. That is definitely too high a price to pay for fashion, but as I often as myself, what can be done?
The solution starts with the consumer making changes to our impulse shopping habits and choosing more ethical and sustainable brands. Ethical and sustainable fashion is an approach to fashion formed around three pillars:
· Social benefits
· Environmental benefits
· Economic benefits
“Ethical/sustainable fashion is not a separate industry but rather a new language or way of approaching the existing methods and systems,” Jocelyn Whipple, ethical fashion consultant
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying stop buying from your favourite high street brands, but I think we all need to shop better. Buy less, buy better. Primarily, ethical fashion seeks to improve the capacity and general well-being of the people involved in fashion, at all levels. In a nutshell, ethical fashion seeks to stop the exploitation of the workforce in fashion as this ultimately affects the stability of the industry. Have you ever wondered how a nice T-shirt could be sold for £5 or less? The fact of the matter is there are people suffering for that £5 t-shirt.
We have become very conscious of what we eat, and now we obsess over the number of calories in a meal and where we source our ingredients. I suggest we take the same zeal to what we wear and what brands we shop. I recently did a post on the benefits of Vintage & second hand shopping, a more sustainable way to shop.
Why should you switch to ethical fashion? Well, the benefits are plenty. Buying from ethical brands, ensures that people who worked on them are properly compensated. If you are anything like me, this is enough to make you sleep better! Besides, joining the ethical fashion movement means getting actively involved in the conservation of our fragile environment. The production process also does not use unnecessary chemicals- pesticides, insecticides, flame retardants among others- as there is no need to rush the product to the market. Crucially, this is a double benefit as the chemicals avoided in ethical fashion are harmful to your health. Also, as a buyer, it should interest you to know that ethical fashion is uncompromising when it comes to quality. The goal of this approach is not merely on the profit margin on a cloth. Therefore, there is an understanding that the quality of the final product is an essential component in revolutionizing the world’s view of fashion.