Fashion has evolved over the decades and continues to evolve. With the increasing social consciousness among the population, fashion choices have also evolved as people are becoming more away or ethical fashion. People want vegan leather shoes, Inspiring Bags, and fair wage fashion. Now, why should you pay attention to this? Well, there are many arguments for ethical fashion and some against it. Let’s explore the different facets of ethical fashion, the influences, and how we as consumers can be more informed about it.
Ethical fashion is in line with the go-green revolution so I guess you can say green is the new black. Besides the fashion industry, going green has been slowly increasing in popularity in other industries. From food to consumer products, more and more companies have started to adopt the values of sustainability, transparency, and authenticity so that they can engage the next generation of buyers. But when it comes to clothing, consumers across all demographics have yet to demand sustainability and transparency on a large scale.
Setbacks of Ethical Fashion
Ethical Fashion is Expensive
One reason for this could be the high cost of ethically produced fashion items. There are many companies that offer ethical fashion companies with more and more entering the market each day. They offer unique shirts, one of a kind inspiring bags, and vegan clothing options the only set back is they are very expensive and sometimes more than double the average price in the market for that item. Even when big companies release an ethical collection like Mango and ASOS have done in recent times, they come at a premium price that many of their regular customers cannot afford. How do you expect a student to buy a T-shirt for $250 when they can get the same thing (howbeit not ethically sourced) for $20 or less?
The conscious fashion movement faces more complex challenges than the organic food movement, including an extreme lack of information about apparel supply chains. And unlike food, there’s no explicit connection in consumers’ minds about clothing and health, or even the people behind the clothes, which include farmers, fiber processors, dyers, tanners, and factory workers. We all know that information is power and ignorance is not an excuse. We live in an information age with so much information plastered all over the internet and social media. We are so much more aware of social & environmental impacts and global issues and we have a louder and stronger voice more than ever before because of it. However, with information and knowledge comes responsibility. So the real question here is, if you knew that your clothes were being made through the exploitation of someone else, would you still buy them? For most people, the answer will be no but that’s easier said than done. Actually taking action is a lot more complicated because it requires an effort to find ethically sourced clothes and then when you do, to be able to afford them.
Raising Awareness through Social Influences
Sustainable clothing often comes at higher prices, but ethical clothing companies are starting to become more effective at combining sustainable values with smart branding. When brands place sustainability at the core of their identity and marketing, conscious customers can outwardly express their values through the clothes they wear. Research has shown that presenting scientific information about labor, environmental conditions, and apparel supply chains has quite a limited impact on mainstream consumers. But things like peer influence have incredibly powerful influences on consumers. Understanding social norms and social influence are critical for really transforming consumer awareness and actual behavior change. Using the modern forms of marketing like influencer marketing and celebrity endorsements, companies that sell ethical fashion can get the word out there more effectively through social media and other online marketing channels. Another way change can be made and influence increased is by having information campaigns to raise awareness.
When it comes to increasing awareness of ethical fashion and getting people to be more involved, companies and organizations should ensure that their campaigns create positive emotions and not guilt. A recent psychological study found that shaming consumers for buying unethical clothing doesn’t work–it makes them not only averse to shopping sustainably, but they tend to go out of their way to insult those that do shop sustainably. If you try to make people feel guilty they will lash out. Everyone can come up with an excuse why their lives are also hard so when you try to make them feel guilty for buying easily accessible and affordable clothing they will fight back and you’re less likely to get them on your side. This is one mistake vegans make (besides always talking about it when no one asks) they try to make other people feel bad for giving into their biological instincts of eating meat but that strategy does not and will not work.
Why Ethical Fashion Should Be Practiced
Modern Day Slavery
June 1st, 2012 sees the launch of a new ILO global estimate of forced labor – a shocking 20.9 million women, men and children are trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived and which they cannot leave. The figure means that, at any given point in time, around three out of every 1,000 persons worldwide are suffering in forced labor. A huge amount of these forced labor workers are in sweatshops where they are forced to make fashion items for big chain fast fashion companies. From the statistical results produced by the ILO Institute, some highlights can be deduced:
- 18.7 million (90%) people are in forced labor in the private economy, exploited by individuals or enterprises. Out of these, 4.5 million (22%) are in forced sexual exploitation, and 14.2 million (68%) in forced labor exploitation in activities such as agriculture, construction, domestic work, and manufacturing.
- Women and girls represent the greater share of forced labor victims – 11.4 million (55%), as compared to 9.5 million (45%) men and boys.
- Adults are more affected than children – 74% (15.4 million) of victims fall in the age group of 18 years and above, whereas children are 26% of the total (or 5.5 million child victims).
- 2.2 million (10%) work in state-imposed forms of forced labor, for example in prisons under conditions which violate ILO standards, or in work imposed by the state military or by rebel armed forces.
Many of the fast fashion companies patronize modern-day slave traders to set up sweatshops with less than human working conditions and hours and paying less than humane wages. Zara has been accused in the past about this. Practicing ethical fashion will help put a stop to the demand for modern-day slaves and hopefully put a stop to the practice as a whole.