Photo courtesy of Quazi Design
When you see a beautiful garment, perfectly handmade and designed with precision, have you ever wondered about its story? As you run your fingers across a fabric or gaze at the quality craftsmanship, do you think about the person who worked on it or how its production affected the environment?
That is where ethical fashion comes into play. In an industry where the worker and the environment can easily be exploited, ethical production serves to reduce environmental damage and supports and respects the livelihood of the people and the communities that produce quality goods.
The fashion business depends on the people within it and that’s why raising our standards can make a difference. Consumers should become more involved in the stories behind what they purchase; more aware of the impact being made, and more knowledgeable of where their money is going and who and what it is affecting.
With globalization, it has become increasingly difficult to know where our pieces actually originate. Many of us may find it difficult to know the full story behind our garments and accessories because not all retail stores are transparent with their production. When purchasing a garment, consumers are not always aware that the average percentage that goes to the worker ranges from 0.5 – 4 percent of the total retail cost. Or that countless overseas plants in Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, Pakistan and Vietnam show a consistent pattern of legal violations and harsh working conditions for their factory workers.
Beyond working conditions, the process of production can often have a significant effect on the environment. Even common purchases using materials like polyester and nylon are contributing to increased global warming today, as dangerous chemicals are released into the atmosphere when they are manufactured. Everything we purchase has a story.
But there is something we can do to make sure that the story is a positive one.
If we begin to ask questions and demand transparency from the manufacturers we support, ethical fashion will become the norm. So make conscious choices with your fashion purchases and let’s all help change the story.
Written by Elena Schloss