[VoxSpace Selects] Say No To Fast Fashion – A Lesson On Ethical And Sustainable Fashion

Ethical And Sustainable Fashion – A Revolution

If you are someone who likes to stay updated on fashion and loves fashion in general, the words “ethical fashion” or “sustainable fashion” must have dropped occasionally in your fashion readings quite some times. But, not many ponders on what is it really and how to implement it in our daily lives? At least, I was not unaware of its real meaning before one day when I just thought of googling it and knowing about this “movement” in details. After all, in the past half-a-decade, ethical and sustainable fashion has rather gone on to become a global phenomenon.

When talking about ethical and sustainable fashion, the first thing that one needs to know and understand is the fact that the same is not just about fashion. It is more about its social aspect that also aims at giving back something to the environment. So, it is not something that is all about the fast fashion trends and the money made, it is something bigger and greater – the impact of ethical clothing ensues right from the source of the fabric (for example, cotton fields) and ends in the consumer’s wardrobe. One might feel a little bit intimidated while reading it and implementing it for the first time, the fact that brands like Stella McCartney have implemented it in their own business shows that sustainable and ethical fashion is more than just a concept – it is something that global brands are pretty much steadily adhering themselves with.

How to Engage with Ethical Fashion | Clara Vuletich | TEDxSydney

Why Does Ethical And Sustainable Fashion Matter?

Like any other industry, the fashion industry is also pretty cruel in itself, to put it extremely bluntly. From sweatshops to child labour, there are numerous horror stories about the fashion market that often hide behind the facade of glamour and glitz. From the environmental perspective, like any other industry that you can possibly think of, the fashion industry also has its fair share of a disastrous carbon footprint – in fact, according to the data, it is the second dirtiest industry after coal in the world. So, in this age of fast fashion and don’t-have-anything-to-wear-at-all’s, we are catering to this detrimental effect on our environment unknowingly. Ethical and sustainable fashion aims at a clean industry right from the grassroot level – from ensuring proper wages and a no child labour induced surroundings to manufacturing clothes in an eco-friendly manner, keeping the carbon footprint at a bare minimum.

Now, the question arises, how we as consumers create a major difference in the fashion industry? Well, to start with, the fashion industry is largely a consumer-driven industry, where our increasing demand for clothes and accessories push the brands to manufacture them at an obnoxious rate. Therefore, greater the demand, greater becomes the urge to supply adequately as a result of which forced labour and lesser wages comes into play. Now, we as consumers can do just two things – first have the number of clothes that we need; second, support handwoven and locally-made clothing over fast fashion brands, which generally exploit people.

In short, just like we choose “organic” food or vegan cosmetics over their more dangerous counterparts, gearing up for ethical and sustainable clothing is also a matter of choice – a choice towards making the earth a healthier and greener place to live in.

An Introduction To Ethical Fashion | Glamrs Style

Gearing Up For The Anti-Fast Fashion Movement

India has always been a place with community-wise job segregation. So, as we know, we have various communities here in India, like the taanties of Bengal who expertise in hand-weaving cotton sarees, which specializes in weaving textiles and making clothing pieces out of it. The weavers of Benaras, Chanderi, Kanchipuram, Bengal – the list is indeed unending. Apart from weavers, there are embroiders who specializes in various typical embroidery style not found anywhere else. However, with fast fashion – including west garments and accessories and Indian machine-woven sarees – bombarding the Indian market, slowly these workers found themselves out of work. It not only jeopardized their livelihood but also catered its part in making India environmentally more toxic.

Thankfully, with considerable conscious efforts from environment enthusiasts, few fashion brands and, of course, the government, the dwindling textile industry of India is envisaging a revival. Now, the craftsmen not only weave textiles for sarees but also to make a plethora of other clothing items, including western dresses. If we blame the internet for the humungous rise in fast fashion, we can also bless the internet for helping the world about ethical and sustainable fashion spread among all and sundry through the tactical use of social media. Not just the weavers but also the embroiders of rich crafts, such as Lucknow’s chikankari, is also seeing buyers from across the world – thanks to numerous self-help organizations and sustainable brands, who are trying to build a revolutionized fashion industry keeping in mind the needs of all, rather than just the ever-increasing differentiated demands.

Hand Made in India – Sustainability, Craft, Fashion | Radhi Parekh | TEDxNSSHillSpringIntlSchool

Choose The Brands Carefully As You Choose Your Clothes

Now, if you have been an ardent follower of fast fashion, you might know that the giant fashion brand, H&M, has a clothing line called “conscious”, which is apparently plant-based textile in use along with recycled textiles. Well, surely, the clothes are made from “conscious” sources but since they did not decrease their intensity of manufacturing and have been relentlessly keeping up with the trends (even making them sometimes) – thus producing garments in bulk – they are far from being ethical. Also, a point to note is 25% of their garments are still manufactured in Bangladesh, a country that has arguably the world’s lowest wage rates. According to a Huff Post article, they have innumerable underpaid textile workers (850,000 as of 2015). Besides, their conscious collection accounts for just 25-30% of their total production.

No – we are not really blaming H&M here of any massive blunders. We simply chose it as an example to showcase how certain fast fashion industry works under the banner of being “conscious”. Added to that, some of the fashion bloggers’ undying love (and campaigning) for these brands lets us assume that there is no chance of any gimmick here. So, the next time you feel the urge to go for ethical and sustainable fashion, search for brands who do the same. Okhai, Nicobar by Good Earth, and Fabindia are some of the widely known brands catering towards ethical and sustainable fashion. There are numerous local brands as well vouching to the concept. So, read up and vouch towards the cause rather than just going by the flow.