Do you ever ask yourself “what is ethical fashion, anyway?”
Well, let me give you some deets on the fashion industry.
Pre 1980, fashion used to consist of four seasons: fall, winter, spring, and summer. Now, many brands produce 52 micro-seasons annually. Brands like Zara and Forever 21 have new lines going into their stores 2-7 times a week. With the rapid growth in the fashion industry, ‘the biggest corners fast fashion cuts are human’ (according to Remake).
75 million people are making our clothes today. 80% of the workforce is made up of women between the ages of 18-24. Children at 14 years of age enter the industry to work an average of 14 hrs per day in sweatshops to produce cheap clothing. Many of these workers are exploited, physically and verbally abused, work amongst harmful and toxic chemicals (that can lead to death) while enduring sexual harassment on a daily basis- many of them are forced to take regular pregnancy tests so factories can avoid any costs associated with maternity leave or childbirth and are forced to take birth control.
A majority of these workers earn less than $3 per day, live in extreme poverty and can’t afford their basic needs. 70% of their income is used for food alone while women have to leave their families for years on end to work in these factories so they can have an income. These women see their children once a year.
Most of these brands produce cheap clothing that falls apart easily and loses shape. Where do most of it end up? The trash. Then a landfill. If the fabric doesn’t break down, it pollutes the beautiful place we call home.
How do you feel about fast fashion now? Do these facts make you nervous about going to go to the mall? They did for me.
Not all fashion brands you find at the mall are bad. You just have to do some research. (Read my post, Good on You to get the free app that will help make shopping consciously easier!)
So now, this brings us to the topic of ethical fashion. What is it, you ask?
Well, ethical fashion mainly focuses on how people were treated during the production of the garment and wants brands to be transparent about their manufacturing. Were the workers paid a livable wage? Are they working in a healthy environment? Are they treated well and given benefits? Do they work a fair amount of hours during the work week?
These expectations sound simple, right? Unfortunately, they’re not. Some of the most popular brands fail again and again to be transparent about their production methods- which is why boutiques like mine exist. We need to look into the brands we’re purchasing from. The industry won’t change unless we do. Women won’t be supported unless we support them.
At the end of the day, the ethical fashion movement really just wants people to be conscious of where they are purchasing their products. We vote with our dollar every day and if we spend money on brands that exploit women, then we are literally supporting that behavior.
Now, you don’t need to go and throw away all of the clothes you have- that would be wasteful. When I started researching ethical fashion, I was tempted to never wear a questionable brand again- even if it was already in my closet. But that would just be creating another issue. I’m committed now to wear out the clothes I have and being mindful of my purchases from here on out.
Can we commit to supporting brands that only treat human beings like human beings?
We can do it together :)