Emma H

Emma J


29 Apr 2009

Read Me: Ethical Style

This article from the very first issue of Ethical Style has some really good points about ethics and fashion … it is definitely worth a read! NB: I have edited some bits out for quicker/easier reading.

Back to Basics

M.J. Prest | September 2008

First and foremost, fashion is personal.

Yes, the Vogues and Elles of the world will tell you what designers are up to, which trends are getting all the buzz, and what A-list celebrities are wearing, but ultimately it’s the individual consumer’s call to find out what matters to them.

Think about Coco Chanel, for example: When she was getting her start in Paris in the 1910s, she was revolutionizing women’s attire in a way that shocked the public. She turned her back on constrictive corsets and bulky bustles, instead embracing comfortable pants and little black dresses made from jersey, which was then considered a junk fabric. She invented practical fashion for women. Chanel’s style was her own, and she showed the world that it was possible to use old materials in new ways.

A similar evolution is occurring today. …With so much talk in recent years about (global warming), it’s only natural that the ethics of fashion have started to enter the mainstream. Cotton is a staple in every closet, but now there’s a budding consciousness toward using fewer pesticides to grow it. The luxury market has exploded, and with it come questions of quality and authenticity. And the garment manufacturing boom in India and China means there’s more emphasis than ever on making sure workers there are getting treated and paid fairly.

All of this is why fashion ethics can mean many different things to different people. As with personal style – not everyone can walk in 4 inch stilettos and a babydoll dress doesn’t flatter all shapes – a consumer’s conscience has to be individually tailored.

There’s no universal prescription in creating an ethical wardrobe. For some fashionistas, finding organic and recycled textiles is paramount, while for others high-quality clothes that last are all-important. Some people are concerned about workers’ rights and fair trade, and other people seek out clothes made in the United States.

There will be some overlap between these groups for most consumers. Several companies are taking a holistic approach to designing clothes, using eco-textiles and paying their workers generous wages, for example. But most likely, you will have to shop around to create a closet that matches your personalized fashion sense as well as your conscience.

One of the first steps you can take is to review your wardrobe. Look at where your clothes have come from. How much is new or barely worn, and how much has seen you through many a season? Are you likely to buy something that will sit unused on a clothes hanger? Of the things you love, what are the qualities that are most important to you?

It won’t make any sense to purge your closet of everything you suspect was made by sweatshop workers or using environmentally unfriendly dyes. The solution to ethical consumerism is not living in burlap sacks, but to make informed decisions about the clothes you buy and what to do with them when you’re done.

(Source: ethicalstyle.com; amanalondon.com)

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