Ethical fashion. The elusive buzzword (buzz phrase?) that’s on the tip of everyone’s tongues lately. What exactly is ethical fashion and why does it matter to me?
“Ethical Fashion is an umbrella term to describe ethical fashion design, production, retail, and purchasing. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare.”
A quick google search quickly came up with this definition from the Victoria and Albert Museum in the UK which seems to encompass most of the issues as I understand them at this point. There are various ethical issues in the fashion industry, and I’m predominantly focused this year on the issues with working conditions, exploitation and fair trade. That’s not to say that the other issues don’t matter, simply that my heart and pull into ethical fashion is for people trapped in modern day slavery, without compensation or fair wages, or safe working conditions.
Turtleneck: KOTN (ethically made) $48
Trousers: Poshmark (Thrifted) $30
Booties: Forever 21 (5 years old) $20
Before an item of clothing is ever in our hands, the raw materials are collected, processed, assembled, packaged, shipped and marketed to us, and there are so many points along the way where individuals can be exploited. It’s only been in the last few years that we as consumers have even started to wonder, “Who Made My Clothes?” After the Rana Plaza factory collapse killed 1,127 in Bangladesh in 2013, or the workers who claimed that they had not been paid for their labor at the Bravo Tekstil factory in Turkey in 2016, there has been more conversation around transparency and ethical sourcing, as well as overall “push” for laborers to receive fair and equitable wages for their labor. The problem is that addressing these issues in their countries of origin only isn’t adequate. North Americans is the largest consumers of new textiles, thus creating the demand and perpetuating the supply.
The few sources of data that exist to evaluate brands each step of the way can make you feel incredibly overwhelmed and discouraged. How can we know for sure if something has been produced in safe and fair working conditions, without being fueled by child labor or labor trafficking?
The truth is it’s incredibly hard to know for sure, and that’s coming from someone who spend the better part of 2018 doing the research to definitively say. I’m not going to come onto the scene and say that it’s easy to go against essentially the entire fashion industry, traditional consumerism and to say no to impulse buying, to do your research. I think that’s one of the largest reasons why most people (myself included) might feel unqualified to attempt an ethical wardrobe. It’s not necessarily convenient and it’s not easy to find information.
This is where I hope to come in with this blog. I want to try to show that it’s possible to wear your values on a budget and to provide information and tips that will help others on their journeys. If I can make it even a little easier or more accessible for someone else then I’ll consider this blog a success. I’ll be working to educate myself as much as I can and share my personal experiences and what having an ethical wardrobe means to me.
I’ll be sharing some tips that have been helpful for me starting out my wardrobe in my next blog! I’d love to hear what you’d like to learn more about in the comments!