What is ethical fashion? – If I’d to answer this question, I’d say something along the lines of “fashion that is made under ethical conditions”. And what are ethical conditions? Well, certainly not slave labour, child labour and inhumane working hours but the term “ethical” can be defined in many ways. And when I say “fashion made ethically”, then I also don’t define if every part of that fashion item has been made ethically.
So you might have guessed it already: there are different… let’s say “qualities” in the ethical fashion world. Let me explain it some more.
When my mum goes to her local fabric store and makes me a dress by hand, I’d call it “ethically made”. BUT: the fabric, zipper, buttons and thread she bought are most certainly not made under ethical conditions and the cotton that has been used for the fabric might have been harvested by underpaid and overworked workers too.
There is something called supply chain when making a product. It starts with the cotton farmer, goes to the company making fabric out of the cotton, to the company dyeing the fabric, to the factory making clothing out of the fabric, to the shop selling the company. That is a very simplified version of a supply chain. In real life it is way longer and often way harder to track down (that is the case for e.g. most electronic and commercial clothing brands).
The ideal is that 100% of that supply chain is ethical. All of the workers have been paid well and treated under fair conditions.
What does that mean for you now?
You have to make your own opinion on how far you want to go and how “ethical” you want to live. Certificates and details on websites and tags can tell you how the fabric was made and how ethical a clothing piece is.
What is my stand on this?
I decided to only buy ethical fashion and I told you that already. But I never told you what ethical means to me.
I am personally okay with clothing that has been sewn ethically but the fabrics are from an unknown source or the working conditions are unknown. I personally I want to support a variety of labels including the local small designers that make their fashion by hand (with commercial fabrics though). The ethical fashion community has many faces and I want to support all of them: the organic clothing, the certified ethical clothing, the uncertified clothing (certificates are expensive!), the only-made-from-natural-fabrics clothing, the small designer clothing, etc etc. Just like I don’t only buy organic clothing, I also don’t only buy certified ethical clothing. However, I try to purchase from as many “ideally ethical” labels as possible since I do know that these companies are the role models in fashion.
What do you think? How strictly “ethical” are you in your purchases?