Did you notice that I recently changed the wording of my tagline to “an ethical home & wardrobe”? This was to reflect my interest in conscious consumerism and to reinforce the focus of Nest & Dressed going forward. Don’t worry, there will still be the usual chat about fashion, interiors and travel just with a more ethically minded approach. On that subject, one thing I get asked about a lot is ethical fashion…
Thanks to some great documentaries like Stacey Dooley’s Fashion’s Dirty Secrets, the clothing industry is firmly in the ethical spotlight nowadays. More and more people are wanting to know how their clothes were made and at what cost, resulting in major fashion brands being called out on their questionable ethics. It’s a huge issue with many complications and certainly not something that will be fixed overnight but with all this mainstream interest it really does feel like we are finally heading in the right direction!
So what exactly is ethical fashion?
Put simply, the term “ethical fashion” basically means that a garment has been produced with no detrimental effect to people or the planet.
Under the ethical umbrella you will also find words like sustainable, organic, eco-friendly, vegan-friendly and Fairtrade. It’s important to be aware, however, that just because something is one of these things doesn’t mean it was ethically produced. For example it could be made from bamboo (a fast growing, self-generating, highly sustainable material) but are the factory workers being paid and treated fairly? Equally, a company could be using a factory that treats it’s employees very well but also pumps thousands of litres of deadly waste chemicals into local waterways every day.
There are so many aspects to be considered when looking at the ethics of a fashion brand that it’s no wonder people find it overwhelming or confusing! It’s important to remember, though, that buying ethically doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Just go for the better option; be a more conscious consumer. If you have the choice of a £10 cotton dress from Primark or a £25 organic cotton dress from Marks & Spencer then, ethically speaking, M&S is the better option. Obviously finances will play a part in your choice but just do the best that you can – doing something is better than doing nothing!
So how do you find out about the ethics of a fashion brand?
Ask them! Most shops will have an ethics & sustainability statement on their website but if they don’t then alarm bells should start ringing. If they aren’t being transparent about the production of their garments then they probably have something to hide. If you want to find out more then a simple google search should help.
I’d also recommend downloading the app Good On You which provides really handy ethical ratings for thousands of different brands in both the UK and the US.
I’d love to know what your biggest hurdles are when it comes to ethical fashion. What do you want to know? What kind of posts would you find helpful?