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Ethical (Slow) Fashion And What People Perceive About It?

What is stopping this information to reach the masses? Why don’t we see more products made sustainably and ethically? Here are few reasons

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As discussed earlier Ethical and sustainable fashion (also termed as Slow Fashion) represents an approach of designing, manufacturing, distributing, selling, consuming and disposing of fashion products which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment.  It is the movement of designing, creating, and buying products for quality and longevity. Ethical fashion encourages slower production schedules, fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and (ideally) zero waste.

Ethical is not only doing the right thing but it means following an approach which strives to take an active role in sustainable livelihood creation, minimizing and counteracting social and environmental concerns. Clothing made with organic cotton or hemp, artisan made clothing or ethnic looking garments doesn’t qualify as ethical fashion. Ethical fashion cannot omit fashion from it. It has to minimize the environmental impact of fashion supply chain; it has to respect the fundamental human rights regardless of legal system in a geographic location; it has to provide a good product with quality service and transparent information and it has to benefit the communities involved.

Why People Don’t Care About Ethical Fashion
There has been a lot written about ethical fashion and there is a growing industry, manufacturing ethically produced clothing. But when we talk to the people around us, very few people have information about it. What is stopping this information to reach the masses? Why don’t we see more products made sustainably and ethically? Here are few reasons:

Ethical Fashion is Expensive – Making fashion products with unconventional and non-traditional way is expensive. Today fashion industry is structured to the fast fashion needs and making slow fashion is more expensive for the industry.

Lack of Fashion Element – Some companies and designers have associated ethical fashion with artisan made products, traditional prints and ‘ethnic’. Ethical fashion has to be at par with mainstream fast fashion to sustain in the market. A normal customer is not going to buy something just because its eco-friendly or made ethically. The challenge is to make products ethically that are fashionable and affordable.

Marketing Failure – Communicating customers about ethical brands and products has been a biggest challenge for companies due to high cost of marketing and the limited visibility available in the marketplace.

Ethical Fashion and Global Movements
Responding to the growing demand for the much needed change in the fashion supply chain and for fashion retailers to be more responsible; activists, designers, fashionistas, bloggers, models and celebrities around the world are joining together to bring upon a positive change. With a common belief that beautiful fashion shouldn’t disrupt our environment or exploit our people, organizations like Greenpeace and Fashion Revolution are asking brands to listen to the people and take actions to change for good. Some of the big brands are actually listening to what people have to say and are taking actions towards a better future of fashion; more transparent, more sustainable and more ethical.

Public awareness campaigns like ‘Detox’ by Greenpeace for toxic free fashion and ‘#whomademyclothes’ by Fashion Revolution for greater transparency in fashion supply chain have been a huge success in creating public awareness and bringing fashion retailer’s attention to these critical issues. This year’s fashion revolution week (organised worldwide during 24-30 April 2017) was another milestone in this direction.

The ‘Green Carpet Challenge’ at Oscars, started by Livi Firth (creative director of Eco Age); to promote ethically made outfits by fashion designers, has been a subject of talk at Academy Awards and caught the attention of millions at an international level. Some of the celebrity participants who rocked the green carpet challenge are Karlie Kloss, Margot Robbie, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner, Saoirse Ronan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michelle Obama, Jessica Alba, Olivia Wilde, Stella McCartney, Livia Firth, Lily Cole, Michael Fassbender, Bradley Cooper and Christy Turlington Burns. It has only showcased that ethical fashion is also beautiful and glamorous as mainstream fashion.

Though there is a positive impact created by all these movements still a lot of work needs to be done to drive widespread adoption. In the next section, we will talk more about the role of different entities involved in fashion and what difference they can make to create a bigger impact.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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fashion industry Ethical Fashion opinion

Kunal Agrawal

The author is an experienced consulting professional with a successful journey across multiple Fortune 500 organizations. He has worked in global markets like US, UK, India, Central Europe (CZ, HU, PL, and SK), Dubai, Kenya and Singapore. He is currently based out of Seattle, US and drives the data and analytics business for a large technology consulting company.

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Sanil Rangari

The author is an experienced fashion management professional who has worked for multiple leading apparel retailers across India. He is currently working on his own venture to drive awareness on ethical and sustainable fashion in Mumbai, India.

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