The fashion industry is changing dramatically, for the good. Major brands are increasingly aware that consumers want to see change and many are now taking action towards a more ethical production. Examples such as the cooperation between Adidas and Stella McCartney, Zara and its new sustainability goals and H&M’s Foundation are just the beginning of a long list of initiatives regarding this subject.
Ethical production is a combination of the conditions of the workers, global imprint, fair living wages and transparency, it cannot be narrowed down to a specific stage of the production. Consumers want to see that a brand’s values are consistent throughout, from designing to selling the products. For example, if a brand starts using recyclable materials, it does not mean that its workers are fairly paid or have safe working conditions. However, this would be a step in the right direction, and considering a large brand, the process of change may go on for a long time before it is finally solidified.
There are a number of different factors that contribute to these positive changes. Like never before, people are talking about climate issues and sustainability. As fashion has contributed significantly to the worlds pollution, it becomes a direct responsibility of the brands, consumers have started to question the fashion industry and its attitude toward change.
Consumers today are increasingly more interested in the origins of the products and their impacts on the world. Research shows that the younger generation is open to paying pay more for a sustainable product.
Social media plays a big part in this movement. When a brand contradicts customers' ethical views, it is immediately targeted with questions. Social media allows consumers to address issues directly. This negative attention can affect a brand's reputation online beyond easy repair. The increase of social media use has given fashion brands no option but to listen and be more transparent to their customers.
Another great reason for the uprising of ethical fashion is the humanization of products. It is easy to visualize a product detached from sentimental values – since these values are usually nurtured towards an individual – but when you envision your product as part of someone’s life, it could shift your perception of how to consume.
The Fashion Revolution campaign works instigating customers to question brands about their values, where the product comes from, and where and by whom it was made. The movement constantly posts images of manufactures workers, which changes the perceptual experience of a product completely detached from humanitarian value.
Scandals about the condition of fashion workers have been popping up very often around the world, from slavery to disastrous outcomes like the Rana Plaza, in which 1.134 individuals lost their lives working in clothes production. This incident highlighted the scale of the issue to the western world Many people have taken action to think twice about what they are buying and wonder if it is just “fashion”, or attached to a chain of consequences in the world and other people’s lives.
photo credit below
Part of the Ethical movement is the birth of a greater number of small brands with strong concepts regarding their production, changing the idea of a piece of clothing being a disposable item and adding important considerations such as the materials used, the condition of their workers, the sustainable nature of their products and their quality.
Small businesses bring a special identity to a product, this is really important to consumers today. After the boom of fast fashion, people are starting to crave more personal and unique features on what they purchase, even if that means having fewer pieces, such as a carefully curated capsule wardrobe. Slow fashion is being advocated, leaving fast fashion brands alert to the fact that they need to change things up.
A good business will build a positive relationship with artisans, making jobs and fair revenue available to people, while producing very particular and one-of-a-kind merchandise. It is not just about the product but also the story behind the product.
Image: Artisan visit in West Bengal, India
In order to generate impact, the Ethical Fashion Movement must count on a collective effort from brands, government, and consumers. It is necessary to make legal adjustments to ensure the safety of workers, avoid exploitation of the flora and fauna, control the amount of pollution, and also give incentives to companies to change their mode of production.
Mutual cooperation is crucial for arriving at a point in which Fashion will not be only or mostly a manner of expression, but an instrument of social change, providing jobs and sustainable and not-harmful production.
rijans <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/40831205@N02/8731789941">Dhaka Savar Building Collapse</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>