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Ethics in Fashion

Discussion in 'Streetwear and Denim' started by hendrix, Jul 2, 2016.

  1. hendrix

    hendrix Ill-proportioned

    Likes Received:
    Apr 19, 2009
    I realise that the term is pretty much a marketing tool these days, along with such irrelevancies as "organic" and "handmade".

    I want this thread to be a broad and open-minded topic where people can discuss ethics in fashion, but also a one-stop-shop for people who want to know how brand x producers its clothing. A sorta RFT thread dedicated to the ethics side of clothing. Therefore, a non-exhaustive list of topics to pursue could be:

    - the lines between factory and sweatshop
    - minimum wages, globalisation, politics
    - cultural appropriation of design
    - animal welfare
    - consumer responsibility
    etc etc.

    So I'll start us off with a question:

    do you consider the clothing you own to be ethical? in terms of the sheer amount? the way it has been produced? and the money you've spent on it?

  2. bolton87

    bolton87 Active Member

    Likes Received:
    Jul 2, 2016
    You've raised some very valid questions. Sadly, the truth is it is not feasible for a common man to know whether the clothing he is wearing has been produced in an unethical manner. I would like to draw your attention to Rana Plaza incident (2013).

  3. MikeDT

    MikeDT Distinguished Member

    Likes Received:
    Jun 24, 2010
    China, Mongolia and UK
    Is this a college assignment or homework?
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016

  4. SergioFM

    SergioFM Active Member

    Likes Received:
    May 9, 2012
    Madrid, Spain
    I want my clothes to be ethical, but it's ridiculously difficult to figure out if they are or not. The first thing is that I won't buy a 200€ shirt made anywhere in Asia. I know that otherwise those people may not have job opportunities, but I don't feel right spending my money on modern slavery and giving US/EU brands maximum profits on it.

    Unfortunately, that usually means that I have to buy from new local brands as they're the ones most likely to manufacture locally, at least until they get big enough to move production to Asia. I live in Spain and right now my only choices are El Ganso and Silbon, but just this week I spotted some vests in Silbon that say "Made in PRC". The clerk was proudly telling me that all their clothes were made in Spain until I showed him that little tag.

    El Ganso has "Made in Europe" as part of it's brand identity so they should hold out longer than most. If anyone knows of more brands that can be found here and that are made more ethically I'd love to know.

  5. Totoro-san

    Totoro-san Member

    Likes Received:
    Jan 10, 2016
    London, UK
    There's a short video on youtube where Patagonia discuss ethics and bringing manufacturing transparency to customers, and they go on to discuss problems in their own supply chain and what they're trying to do about it. It's quite refreshing, though mind you the transparency approach is like a branding position in itself, but still commendable.

    Someone with more knowledge may want to talk about H&M's 'ethical line' which at least on first impression makes you raise your eyebrows a bit, since it's similar to how Shell organises 'green eco events' around the world while simultaneously basing its core business on hemorrhaging the environment. In the case of H&M their core business model is centred around fast fashion, the complete opposite of being eco. They're basically PR and branding campaigns I feel, as a good chunk of the customer demographic want to socially identify themselves with progressive/ecological brands to align with their principles, so H&M just goes and creates a new line for it but doesn't interfere much with it's main supply chain (unless it gets caught). Like you mentioned, It's similar to how organic foods have become popular in the recent decade with well-heeled shoppers - little do they know that fundamentally the organic food you find in supermarkets are still messing up the eco-system and not grown sustainably. But organic food is a growing premium market, and so is ethical fashion, so businesses will go for where the money is. Which is better than having nothing though, and it's a start.

    There is another brand in the UK selling shoes - TOMS - where for every pair of shoes you buy, they donate a pair to a kid or help a poor community in some way. Really great idea, and again it's a core part of their brand identity.

    I attended a blockchain conference a few months ago where people were discussing use of blockchain and digital certificates at each stage of manufacturing to maintain complete and transparent traceable history for each individual product. It's a great idea in theory but the big elephant in the room is that you will have to get a very varied set of companies, suppliers, logistics providers, governments and custom officials (of different countries) to all sign up to a common platform and agree to scrap their existing processes, or run two auditing processes simultaneously, and neither scenario is realistic.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2016

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