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What Difference We Can Make To Drive Ethical Fashion?

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead.

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Role of Fashion Retailers
Although customers will decide the ultimate outcome, retailers need to play an important role in the future of the fashion industry. Their role as a middle-man between producers and customers will be important to bring upon the design, technology and supply chain reforms. Retailers along with other professional stakeholders will have to drive the changes required to make ethical fashion products more mainstream, accessible, affordable and aesthetically appealing to customers.

Retailers will also need to engage customers in more effective and innovative way to influence their behaviour towards more responsible shopping to make it successful. They will have to think about product first and offer products that are in tune with fashion and will last long. Without a good product, offering ethical fashion is of no use.

Designers will have a great opportunity to prove their creativity. Making good sustainable fashion is not always easy, especially since technology and means available are limited today. Sustainable designs will need to be both fashionable and should also achieve economies of scale.

Most importantly, retailers will have to be transparent about their motivations. They will have to be sincere in their promises towards making ethical fashion. Businesses exist to make money and it is not wrong to have a successful business. What’s wrong is misleading people in the name of ethical fashion. “Honest By” – a pioneering company unique for the transparency of its information about the supply chain and pricing of its products is a great example of ethical business, especially for retailers. Honest By provides material information (information of all the raw materials, where they are sourced from and who made them), manufacturing details (how much time and how many fittings are required to make the product) and price calculations (raw material cost, manufacturing cost, mark up, taxes and retail price), openly to everyone (please visit http://www.honestby.com).

Role of Customers
As customers and as consumers, we individuals will be a decisive factor for the success of ethical fashion business. Our response will decide how soon ethical fashion will become mainstream and probably after 10 years, we will not have to talk about ethical fashion because everything will be ethical and sustainable.

But for this to happen, we must make some changes in our way of living. We must let go of the desire for more and change the way we purchase fashion products. We must reduce the speed of our consumption.

Few simple things we can do are - Buy products from brands that are more responsible and transparent than others; choose quality over quantity, something that will look good and last long at the same time; treat our clothes well and take a good care of them; and once their life is over, upcycle them or dispose them in proper way.

Role of Fashion Bloggers, Vloggers and Haulers
Fashion bloggers, vloggers and haulers have a great potential to influence millions of shoppers. But unfortunately, most of them are paid by the brands to endorse their products and therefore are biased in their opinions. It is, no doubt, their source of income and they have a fear that if they promote ethical fashion, they may lose their fast fashion customers (brands) but this should not be the case. They can promote both and leave it to their followers to make a decision. Being extremist and promoting only fast fashion or ethical fashion is not advisable for them. Keeping a balance and promoting both is a better option and at the end it is the choice of bloggers what they want to promote and what resonates to their ethics. Rather than working against fast fashion brands, it’s better to work with them and influence them towards ethical fashion.

Ask brands to be more responsible
There are many ways you can ask your favourite brand ‘who made my clothes’. You can ask in store while shopping, you can write it down while giving feedback and reviews, you can ask them on their official website, you can ask them on their social media pages. If we start asking this question to the brands and retailers, they will have to listen what we have to say and take actions to change for good. You can also participate in ‘fashion revolution week’ that is organised every year (mentioned above in Ethical Fashion and Global Movements)

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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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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