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.
Globally, textile waste has increased dramatically due to the rise in clothing consumption and production. It’s shocking that the number of new garments produced annually now exceeds 100 billion—double the amount from 2000.
We believe it’s time for radical measure, from education, design, sourcing to business.
Some of the issues around Ethical Fashion
Ethical Fashion aims to address the problems it sees with the way the fashion industry currently operates, such as exploitative labour, environmental damage, the use of hazardous chemicals, waste, and animal cruelty.
- Serious concerns exploitative working conditions in the manufacturing units.
- Cotton provides much of the world’s fabric, but growing it uses 22.5% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of the world’s pesticides, chemicals which can be dangerous for the environment and harmful to the farmers who grow it. (Ethical Fashion Forum)
- Current textile growing practices are considered unsustainable because of the damage they do to the immediate environment. For example, the Aral Sea in Central Asia has shrunk to just 15% of its former volume, largely due to the vast quantity of water required for cotton production and dying. (Ethical Fashion Forum)
- Most textiles are treated with chemicals to soften and dye them, however these chemicals can be toxic to the environment and can be transferred to the skin of the people wearing them. Hazardous chemicals used commonly in the textile industry are: lead, nickel, chromium IV, aryl amines, phthalates and formaldehyde. (Greenpeace)
- The low costs and disposable nature of high street fashion means that much of it is destined for incinerators or landfill sites. The UK alone throws away 1 million tonnes of clothing every year. (Waste Online)
- Many animals are farmed to supply fur for the fashion industry, and many people feel that their welfare is an important part of the Ethical Fashion debate. The designer Stella McCartney does not use either fur or leather in her designs. In an advert for the animal rights organisation PETA, she said: ‘we address… ethical or ecological… questions in every other part of our lives except fashion. Mind-sets are changing, though, which is encouraging.’