IS SUSTAINABLE AND ETHICAL TREND THE PROSPECT OF FASHION?
Table of Contents
The framework of ethical fashion 10
The world is changing regularly, and so are the trends in fashion. The United Kingdom has emerged as the fashion hub of the world with all the bigger brands opening a business there along with the introduction of new talents regularly. However, this expansion can be carried on in the future if the fashion industry in the UK decides to opt for ethical aspects in the fashion world and create sustainable fashion items. It will not only help with the conservation of the environment but also give the industry a boost to work better in the future, and that is what has been discussed in detail.
Fashion can simply be stated as a style, which is popular and involves clothing, makeup, hair, accessories, lifestyle, and footwear. The concept of fashion although was introduced centuries ago, the notions related to the global industry of fashion were developed in the contemporary world. Therefore, this paper deals with notions of ethical, ecological as well as sustainable fashion, which will mark a new beginning of fashion in the modern world and continue doing so in the future.
Fashion can be termed as something, which enhances the style of a human being. There are many aspects related to the term, fashion, and these aspects are vital for the survival and growth of the fashion industry in the United Kingdom as well as the world. Concepts of new and improved fashion trends are emerging as each day passes. However, the industry dealing with fashion has to follow some rules that are prevalent for all fashion related technician in the world (Maynard, 2004). The two most important terms related to the world of fashion in the present world are sustainability and ethical clothing.
Ethical fashion is a simple concept, which covers a wide range of aspects like ethical designing of the fashionable item, ethical retailing, ethical production, as well as ethical notions of purchasing. It includes important issues like the working conditions of the workers in the fashion industry, the conduct of fair-trading, exploitation, sustainable production, and development of the environment, and finally the welfare of animals (Maynard, 2004). Sustainable fashion, on the other hand, promises the use of eco-friendly materials like crop fibers growing sustainably for clothing or the use of recycled resources. It looks over the manufacturing of fiber and aims to make a system that will provide indefinite support regarding the impact of humans on nature and their social responsibility.
Ethical fashion and the trend, which it creates and follows, tend to do the right thing for the society and the environment, for the employees working in the fashion industry as well as the consumers who buy the fashion items or apparel (Paulins and Hillery, 2009). The designers and industrialists related to the fashion world are making it their mission to change the effect and the impact of fashion on the earth and the workers making the clothes. The consumers too are spending the money on goods, which are ethical and convey messages that are fair for the workers employing their best efforts to produce the items, which people buy (Paulins and Hillery, 2009). Like the growth and popularity of organic food or organic goods, the need and demand for ethical as well as sustainable items of fashion are growing as well. It helps the present world to have certain benefits, which will be carried on in the future and bring about better results. These benefits are:
- Fast fashion is the way of the fashion industry now, and in that place, slow fashion has to be advocated (Allwood et al. 2006). Slow fashion popularizes principles, which are significant for ethical purposes like producing items of good quality, which will help keep the environment clean and safe. These items will be providing fair outcomes to the workers and the consumers as well. The manufacturing and the shipping units will not leave toxic chemicals and wastes in tons, which creates problems in a life cycle. Also, companies will stop leaving carbon footprints, which are unethical (Minney, 2016).
- The amount of water used to produce a simple pair of jeans and one t-shirt is almost 5000 gallons, which is more than average human drinking in a year. The crisis of water is a significant problem, which is looming on the face of the earth and is a matter of concern for all the people living on this planet, as water is the single most valuable thing for life to survive on planet earth besides oxygen (Fletcher, 2014). World Economic Forum declared that the scarcity of activities that result to physical healthiness. For example, proper diet, ensuring that all meals are balanced and taking a lot of water is going to be the global risk prevailing in the ten years to come. Therefore, following ethical standards the recent fashion industries can adopt sustainable tolls of using less water, which will keep the company alive when water is scarce and expensive as well.
- The fashion industry faces a lot of criticism about its employees and workers who work day and night to manufacture fashion-related items (Black, 2008). The industry and various companies promoting fashion most of the time fail to provide fair wages of living and safe as well as the secure condition of working for the employees. The factory collapses occurred in the year 2013 in Bangladesh is a prominent example of this cause, which ethical standards of fashion can help to change. Consumers care about their goods as well as how they were produced (Paulins and Hillery, 2009). Therefore, providing fair remuneration and building policies, which are ethical will help sell the goods better.
Figure 1: Bangladesh factory collapse: Heartbreak of the disaster orphans (Source- mirror.co.uk)
While ethical fashion is important, sustainability is significant as well for the present industry of fashion so that it can survive in the future years (Gwilt and Rissanen, 2010). Companies and big brands like H&M, Veja, Reformation, Amur, and even Gucci are trying their best for the production of sustainable items. Banning the use of furs is a trend already as is the use of leather, which requires poaching of animals. Terms like ‘green’ and ‘eco’ have gained much importance in the world of luxury items as well. Using organic cotton, fibers that have been recycled and hemp, to make clothes of style are growing fast (Gwilt and Rissanen, 2010).
Figure 2: Chanel Bans Fur and Exotic Skins (Source- peta.org) [Online Image]
The reason why sustainability is to be considered a trend of the future is:
- The world of fashion has a significant link with the environment and nature. The fashion industry is huge and has multiple chains of supply, which involves agriculture, manufacturing, marketing, retailing, designing, laundry, as well as recycling (Allwood et al. 2006). It is easy to conclude that it uses various chemicals, pesticides, and manual labor too in its processes, which affects the environment. Sustainability can help solve these issues.
- Consumers are accepting slow and organic meeting the consumer needs. In the case of the café, the consumers often need to eat, fresh and tastefully prepared food, and therefore, they will readily accept slow and organic fashion to help the environment to sustain (Minney, 2016). They expect transparency, and that is what the brands are aiming to provide in recent times.
- The community as a whole needs to combine the energy collectively for the notorious industry that is adaptable and innovative and then use it to create a fair and sustainable world (Fletcher, 2014).
- The change in the climate along with the increase in the population wills changes the demographics of the global economy to a huge extent. Therefore, the fashion industry has to change as well to sustain itself in a world where resources are scarce, and the land is allotted to harvest food, not fiber (Fletcher, 2014).
The environmental concerns and ethical issues, which involve the standards in fashion, especially in the United Kingdom or the UK include animal cruelty, child labor, water consumption, health, and safety risks to name a few. Less use of toxic materials and subsequent reduction of greenhouse gases are a few solutions that can help in mitigating the effects of unethical or non-eco-friendly fashion. In the fashion industry, the raging problem has always been using of sweatshop-free clothing, which means less use of human labor, which is mostly done by children under 15 years under inhuman conditions, and not getting proper food and sleep. Working under unhygienic conditions, and the use of non-biodegradable materials are considered illegal and non-ethical for the fashion industry.
Using animal products like leather, fur, and bones from animals like cow, alligator, deer, tiger, leopard should be banned totally because animals are slaughtered cruelly under inhuman conditions to create designer bags, boots, coats, and even hats and scarves. Animal activists from all over the world have been voicing their opinions against such practices, and encouraging governments of each nation whether it is developed and developing, to not engage in such practices. Low wages is another ethical issue that has been plaguing the fashion industry since its very inception. Most fashion industries, whether big or small, pay very low wages to their workers and not provide them an overtime bonus. Such issues should be addressed as early as possible to ensure the employees do not get disappointed and dissent can be controlled (Nicholls and Opal, 2005). Consumption of water needs to be reduced in the fashion industry because the fashion and textile industry uses several gallons of water sometimes six to seven billion gallons, which is the reason water has been in much crisis. The reducing groundwater table and water reservoirs like ponds, lakes, rivers drying up to reveal only silt and stone speak about the seriousness that needs to be taken into account to protect our water resources (Nicholls and Opal, 2005).
(Source: Ellenmacarthurfoundation.org, 2017)
Certain brands in the UK believe in promoting ethical products and they have a range of ethical and cruelty-free fashion products, and are eco-friendly as well as have a low carbon footprint which means they do not affect the environment in a negative way (Fletcher, K., 2011).
Some of the brands are as follows:
- Beaumont Organic – Based in Manchester and is known for contemporary, conscious, and ethical clothing.
- Biblical- Ethically manufactured clothing using simple design and natural style.
- Community clothing- This Company manufactures simple fashion for men and women, as well as eco-friendly denim.
- Birdsong- Exclusively designs and creates clothes for women, which
- Cossack- Contemporary design and organically made clothes.
- Henri London- The clothes of this company are made from natural cotton, and they excel in making women’s shirts.
- I and Me – This fashion brand collaborates with textile mills from Japan to create durable clothes from organic material.
- Creation 26- A brand known for its design and production that follows sustainability and ethicality.
- Gung Ho- The specialty of this brand is having an obscure design within the main cloth material.
- Idioma- Minimalistic design, organic raw material, and a fusion of culture and tradition from all over the world are the USP of this brand (Walker, 2006).
- Isabelle Fox- Inspired from the history of UK fashion, this brand is known to make one of the best women’s apparel, and give their unique touch to every dress.
- Ninety Percent- This brand creates women’s apparel from materials that do not have any negative impact on the environment.
- Outsider Fashion- This brand believes in recycling clothes that have been lying unused for a long time in our wardrobe.
- People Tree- One of the oldest ethical fashion brands in the UK, People Tree has been making accessories and apparel for 20 years.
- The White T-shirt Company- As the name suggests, this brand excels in creating the perfect white t-shirt for both men and women from the best quality organic cotton.
Figure 4: Sustainable Fashion Brand Use Behaviour
(Source: Priority, 2015)
Fashion is the second major industry, which affects the environment after the Oil Industry. There is a need to mitigate or at least lessen the effects of the fashion industry on the environment because the environment is already bearing a lot due to global warming, pollution, improper disposal of waste materials, and other human activities.
Sustainable fashion and ethical fashion, although used together are separate terms. It might be that a fashion brand may engage in sustainable production and designing of apparel, but the way it has been made does not comply with ethical standards of fashion (Forum for the Future, 2007). This means that a brand might involve child labor, or animal cruelty, workers exploitation, etc. The fashion Industry impacts thrice with water pollution, water consumption, and carbon footprint. According to the Ethical Fashion Forum, about three-fourth of the global apparel export are done in unsafe and unhygienic conditions. The fashion industry is known to manufacture in “Sweatshops” which is a term for workplaces or factories, which have a non-permissible working atmosphere (Anders & Jacob, 2015).
Therefore, there is a need to make a framework for ethicality in the fashion industry so that both the environment and the social factors do not get affected adversely. There are few external actors, who can help in removing the unethical practices of the fashion industry. They are- market regulators, designers, suppliers, workers, producers, marketers, consumers, supply regulators, media.
All these nine actors influence the decisions of each other as they are inter-related to the fashion industry and therefore any problem, if arises related to any particular brand that is against ethical standards may prove detrimental to the reputation of that brand (Anders & Jacob, 2015). Consumers are directly affected by fashion disasters such as using chemicals in fabrics, tightly made jeans and shapewear, pointed heels in shoes, etc. therefore it is to be seen that the consumers make the right choices, and opt for affordable brands which follow ethical and sustainable frameworks while creating fashion apparels inspired by contemporary trends (Thorpe, 2007).
Figure 5: Nine actors who influence fashion decisions
(Source: Anders & Jacob, 2015)
Modern technologies and unconventional trade models change the taste ethically. It also helps to steer the upcoming fashion that follows sustainability in their runway.
The movement to renewable resource
Several materials recently recommended three intertwine challenges represented by the industry of fashion. Such challenges are scarcity of resources, insufficient recyclability as well as the certainty regarding costs are supposed to increase for a few vestal raw substance (Gwilt, 2015). The supply of certain fiber, which is water-intensive, has been put in restricted supply due to decreasing impact on our environment. Sometimes I find myself moving from the city and take a walk in the countryside where we have trees and fresh water level. The rate of tax collection on fossil fuels has been increased (Walker and Giard, 2013). The cost of polyester materials has increased now. Reuse of some existing materials or those materials that are in processing seems to have a great lifecycle. The fiber-like Lyocell is prepared from wood pulp, which is used in recent times by many industries like Patagonia as well as the Banana Republic because it has less effect on the environment. However, the costs of the lyocell product have increased.
Figure 6: Sustainable clothing materials
(Source- Globalstewards.org, 2019)
Many fashion designers and fashion brands are working on the advice stated by Dame Viviene Westwood. She provided a mantra on fashion that is to create limitation in purchasing things by choosing well which last long.
In the view of the Action Plan of WRAP’s, the effect of companies on carbon, wastes, and effects of company privatization in productivity growth and performance output. This article discusses about the water in the chain of supply of fashion products has been reducing by 3% (Walker and Giard, 2013). This happens because of creating clothes that last for three months. The ethics of making enduring design is begun to take place despite creating fashions that do not last for a month or a week (Gwilt, 2015). This helps to encourage in making items that are attractable by the people who love, follow, and have demand for using it. Some brands like Nike, Vans, and so on provide an offer online to create our self-offerings. Such trends built a strong position in the market by implementing modern technologies, unique ideas, and by creating 3D graphics. The customized design has become a recent trend in footwear companies.
Figure 7: Long-lasting fashion trends
(Source- Wood, 2018)
The industry that is involved in the fashion world faces a 75% loss due to the o use of nonrenewable resources in the past. The reason behind such loss is not using modern recycling methods and technologies. The Foundation of Ellen MacArthur projected that by adopting economic guidelines industry can gain €160 billion by the year 2030 (Papanek, 1995). Leading retailers such as Marks & Spencer’s as well as Zara are announcing points for collecting old clothing materials at their shops. This has a great impact on reusing old materials in innovative ways, thus helps in maximizing the rate of recycling.
The strength to evolve
From the above discussion regarding three trends, another final element is there that is the willpower to bring an evolution in the sustainable fashion world. Titans have committed to altering the method they provide service. H&M declared that by 2030 they would be able to use sustainable materials in their fashion up to 100%. This declaration provides us information that every organization has the same goal and they believe that conventional business cannot sustain long. Hence, they need innovation in their style (Papanek, 1995).
Figure 8: Clothes made from waste materials
(Source: How We Make It, 2019)
The target of zero waste shopping is to handle and transform the industry standard by rethinking regarding design as well as a creation that is not lead to waste. The industry makes impressive clothing that is not sent to garbage. Many industries have some beliefs that are as follows:
- Resources such as people, materials, time, imagination as well as energy are valuable and important
- Well, constructive designs are used with resources that are available and it provides solutions to the users. Thus does not make waste
- Energy must be implemented in the reuse, recycle of the materials that are wasted rather than manufacturing a new product (Clark, 2008)
- Users have a right to understand the process of manufacturing the clothes
- Every employee must have fair compensation irrespective of their subject knowledge
- The organization must be held accountable for the promotion of correct statement that could be a key accountability feature of the organization itself involving all its practices both known and unknown to the public
- Performing an activity correctly is always time-consuming but it is their responsibility to drive it conveniently and in an easy manner
Figure 9: Zero waste fashion
(Source- Trusted Clothes, 2017)
Zero waste shopping is the term, which refers to the shopping of fashionable items that create very little wastage of textiles while manufacturing/ production. It could be branched in the below methods-
- Pre-user: this procedure eradicates wastage while production/ manufacture. This methodology creates a direct influence on the design that’s clothing was initially intended to be a manufacture (Clark, 2008). There is always a requirement of a speculative application/ tool, which can be useful while creating a design of zero waste garments because it is almost near impossible to create a design of a zero-waste clothing/ garment by only sketching.
- Post-user: this technique creates clothing from already used garments of consumers also could be referred clothing that is secondhand and hence removing wastage of the product usage cycle of a garment (Joy, et al., 2012). This technique uses the leftover of the fashion circle to reproduce brand new clothing from already used materials. The below are the practitioners who use this methodology are Martin Margiela, PretCastle, Good One, Nick Cave, and so on. Below given is the well-known global brand who has manufactured a zero waste solution, which can be used for fabrics, and clothing:
The zero-waste boxes manufactured by TerraCycle help us to recycle all types of waste thus having an intense impact on our planet. Now the fabrics that are collected are divided into different categories and further recycled or reused as deemed suitable. Below are some of the examples –Fabric and clothing, which include playing rugs, shorts, canvas pants, undergarments, non-plastic bath mats, outdoor fabric mats, patio furniture, and so on (Joy, et al., 2012). For better recycling of this particular stream of waste, it is necessary to be positive that all extra products are removed.
Figure 10: Cycle of Renew cell
(Source: Re: well, 2019)
Zero waste shopping is not only an eco-friendly form of shopping for fashionable items but it also creates a new dimension in the world of fashion where wastage of various nonrenewable products which are most of the time used as raw materials can be reduced and form of recycling and reuse methodology can be implemented. Thus, the dawning of a new era where fashion and shopping of fashion products can be done in a more productive and fruitful form where the customer, the consumer, and most importantly the ecosystem all benefit at the same time.
Fashion and sustainability are two contradictory terms, which are not so common and used. However, in recent times, sustainable fashion has been trending and everyone is enthusiastic about using this trend. The fashion that is in use tends to be ethical, eco-friendly, or sustainable. Ethical consumptions suggest various factors like fashion has to be based on fair trade or consist of animal welfare or avoids exploitation of any kind and most importantly have to be based on sustainable production. The concept of ethical consumption is however not a new trend but after globalization, this has come into vogue again. In modern societies, the dominating organizing framework has been rapidly advancing towards the use of practices like sustainable consumption, which however became a questionable notion (Balsiger, 2016). To bring in ethical consumption of sustainable practices it is very essential to change the ethics, which are governing the societies. Fashion is a highly trending global market where consumer behavioral changes are extremely necessary to induce ethical consumption. Clothing and fashion have a huge connection with the cultural discourses of a particular country or religion. Sustainability can be done ethically based on culture and clothing. Like western ethics, culture and norms are extremely different from the eastern culture, norms, and ethics. Therefore, the clothing changes that are to be brought accordingly which would abide by the ethics of the country as well as they are eco-friendly (Balsiger, 2016).
Figure 11: Ethical consumption
(Source- Fashionhedge.com, 2016)
The new slogan that is in use “green is the new black” which justifies that eco-friendlier fashion helps in gaining success is and glamour in society (Gibson & Stanes, 2011). Ethical consumption has many obligations like the changes that are to be brought in within the society to evolve the fashion to sustainable products; these changes are not easily accepted or granted by society. However, the new revolution of sustainable development does not back out they are completely focused on displaying the needs and requirements of sustainable consumption (Gardetti and Torres, 2017). Ethical consumption brings in transparency about the sources, manufacturing processes, the designing, and all the other processes, which are involved within the production of a particular cloth. To bring in sustainability permanently in the fashion industry it is very essential to bring in desirability. The fashion industry is completely based on consumer needs and desires and the consumers are more inclined towards good fabrics, designs, and colors as well.
Figure 12: Green is the new black
(Source: ilovegurus.ca, 2018)
The consumers spend mostly on fashionable and trending apparel so to get most of the consumers inclined towards eco-friendly fashion the sustainable clothing has to be designed more fashionably, which are made of retainable fabric, colorful and more designable. Sustainable fashion is not restricted to the environment but it is also interdependent on the entire fashion business, from the production until the retail stores. Ethical consumption also helps in putting a ban on child labor, forced working, and unfair wages (Niinimäki, 2015). By practicing ethical consumption along with sustainable fashion the health measures for the workers can be taken, the deserved human rights to the workers can be provided as well as organic cultivation can also be entertained.
The fashion industry is the most developing and faster-growing industry all over the world. Moreover, this fashion or clothing industry has a huge implication for society in various stages. The fashion industry has certain social implications like the social surroundings and needs drastically impacts the fashion industry. Recently the industries are inclined towards producing long-lasting clothing, which is sustainable as well as cost-efficient. This helps in making the most successful and growing industries. Fashion is something that carries both social and culture shock upon arriving in the United States. These students must understand the cultural meanings therefore the understanding of fashion is highly prone to change with the developing social and cultural changes (Niinimäki, 2015). The overconsumption of clothing is subjected to damaging agricultural practices and leading to the exploitation of resources. However, with the introduction of ethical consumption and sustainable development, it has become noticeable that exploitation may be avoided. The fashion industries are highly subjected to bring in sustainability in their industries and in certain instances it becomes mandatory. The fashion parades nowadays seem to have eco-friendly as their tagline and demonstrating all the extremely eco-friendly clothes. The industries are now liable if they do not follow the ethical rules. The ethical rules include not using any kind of animal skin or sources in the clothing products, and completely restricting the exploitation of the garment workers. For the production f garments, many workers are required and in that regard to reducing their capital investment, the workers are unpaid or unfairly paid and forced to work. These kinds of acts have been seen prevalent in Asia or African garments production industries which are distributed all over the world (Turker and Altuntas, 2014). These kinds of unethical deeds are completely abolished by the government and punishable by law.
Figure 13: Impact of the fashion industry on nature
(Source: Greyish Green, 2017)
The governments all the world have opened various programs where the industries are provided with training as to how their products can be manufactured sustainably and ethically. Fashion is considered frivolous; hence, they are not used sustainably. This can only be made possible by the industries that can make the consumers aware of the development of sustainable products. In different kinds of award shows or gala, the actors or models are subjected to demonstrate sustainable clothing and fashion trends to the public. The consumers seem to follow the actors as their fashion gurus, which makes the fashion industries easier to portray their trending fashions (Winter and Lasch, 2016). The industry recently has been extremely cautious about the use of materials, which are required to be organic, and turns out to be cheap costing production, the waste production is required to be reduced extensively to avoid the emission of greenhouse gases and to stop the use of hazardous chemicals in the agriculture which leads to extreme pollution. The fashion industries are now challenged with developing the most sustainable yet designer clothes, which would lead to making a particular organization to be at their competitive peak.
Figure 14: Sustainability in fashion
(Source: Kitenge Store, 2018)
Figure 15: Green Peace Campaign for top fashion brands (Source- independent.co.uk) [Online Image]
Ethical fashion mainly takes into account various factors and needs such as demands and needs of workers to ensure healthy working conditions for them to work or the amount of salary they get is sufficient for them to maintain a proper standard of living. However, among all the factors, sustainability also has a significant place. Hence, sustainable fashion considers the eco-familiarity of the goods so that it has a healthy impact on the environment and nature. It mainly makes use of materials like natural fibers, cellulose, etc (Walker and Giard, 2013).
We know, we humans are social beings. Every decision we make or everything we do is largely affected by social trends. Social media plays an important role in connecting people around the globe and socializing us largely. We share our thoughts, emotions, or any major step in life on social media.
Thus, the promotion of any major campaign or any brand can be sparked by the use of social media. We see various movements and campaigns gaining importance on social media, spreading across the globe, and influencing our thoughts (Walker and Giard, 2013). This is because we, human beings are prone to be influenced by content on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Thus, various companies make major use of social media for advertisements of the brands. Consumers can be made aware of various features of their brand, what categories of products are available for them to choose or facilities (like sales, discounts, or offers) they have while buying any product. In the same manner, awareness about sustainability and ethics in fashion can be raised.
With the growth in social media trends, we can see various campaigns regarding ethics and sustainability in the fashion industry are trending over the web. Some of the examples are:
i) Labour Behind The Label:
Labor Behind the label is a UK based organization, which fights for workers right in the fashion industry (Walker and Giard, 2013). They raise various issues regarding workers such as the condition of workers, low wages, poverty, forced overtime and long working hours, etc. Thus, they promote the ethical fashion industry. LBL believes that companies should take full responsibility for the conditions of the workers and so lays a certain code of conduct for the companies. They inspect thousands of factories annually to ensure that their codes of conduct are properly adopted and implemented. They have raised many campaigns such as change your shoes, living wages, worker safety (Ross, 1997). Change your shoe campaign makes us aware of the toxic environment in which shoe workers have to make shoes, which are hidden. More than 13,000 people have signed a petition regarding this campaign. The living wage campaign mainly deals with the poor condition of under-waged labor. It lays down an idea about how much wage must be sufficient for laborers to live a normal standard of life. Worker safety campaign draws our attention to poor maintenance in factories that makes workers risk their life and health to earn a living. For example, the collapse of the Rana Plaza Building killed around 1136 workers (Ross, 1997).
ii) People Tree:
People tree is a fair trade garment company based in both the UK and Japan. It is based on ethical concepts. Besides being ethical, they draw raw materials from eco-friendly sources. Thus, People Tree is an excellent example of a company that promotes both ethical and sustainable culture together. People tree works hard on social media to promote their brands. Recently they collaborated with famous actor Emma Watson. According to her, fashion can be used to fight poverty as well as solve environmental concerns surrounding fast fashion. Not only this, People tree posted a social review on their website explaining in detail what their mission is, what fair trade means, and their approach towards making the earth a better place to live by using organic raw materials. People Tree gives a detailed account of their supply chain from raw materials to cost labors, transportation, etc. Thus, they gain enough popularity (Grant, 2007).
Figure 16: Safia Minney (founder of People Tree) with cotton farmers in India (Source- huffingtonpost.co.uk) [Online Image]
iii) Anti-bad: Antibad is a UK based sustainable fashion brand. Formed by Agatha Lintott, Antibad is set to be a new face of sustainable fashion. Mrs. Lintott herself was a buyer for Tom Ford and Burberry. Her basic concern behind her vision was that in the era of luxury fashion and streetwear, the word “sustainability” is completely written off. Therefore, she set forth her mission for starting a brand, which is both eco-friendly and human-friendly. Every product comes with a tab of “Why It’s Good” explaining the nature of the material of the manufacturers if they are made by artisans or if it’s a fair trade product. On the antibody website, they post the details about their mission and their story. They teach us the importance of sustainable fashion and how style and sustainability could go hand in hand. According to them, fashion is something “to love and last” and not to just use and throw. They give all-important detailed statistics about their items.
The involvement of social media with the sustainable fashion industry has helped the people of the world gain new perspectives about the need for sustainability and ethical fashion items. The world of fashion has always needed promotions to popularize new trends and items of clothing or a new designer that has emerged and needed to find stability in the world market (Ehrenfeld, 2008). Similarly, the companies and brands of today have to find and incorporate transparency levels of their institutions to tell people exactly what they are being provided with for their money’s worth and what will be the future of the item once it has been disposed of. This kind of promotion can open new avenues that will force bigger brands and fashion labels to rethink the role it plays towards the society, individual people, and the community.
Social media is easy, safe, and inane, fashion brands in the UK have to be more responsible while using it (Ehrenfeld, 2008). The worth of the fashion industry in the United Kingdom is about £202 million every year, and the fashion industry contributes about £32 billion to the economy of the UK. Considering it as one of the major places that promote and propagate fashion, the UK has to be one of the countries that have a sustainable approach to fashion. The launch of Esthetica in the mainstream fashion industry is a huge step that has been taken by industry professionals in London. Adoption of social media to promote campaigns like Labour Behind the Label, World Recycle Week, etc., is necessary for the different labels of fashions and the designers related to them as well (Walker, 2006). Corporate greenwashing can be mitigated if the promotion of re-wear and recycle get enough promotion.
Brands and organizations like Fashion Revolution have taken up the duty of promoting the sustainability and ethical aspects of fashion by teaching as well as propagating fashion activism. Being a nonprofit brand from the UK, Fashion Revolution has no physical existence but relies on social media completely to ensure that people get the right message regarding sustainable fashion trends (Walker, 2006). There many other companies that follow the same rule and exist on the internet and yet succeed to reach millions of people at a single moment. While ASOS has stopped using or stocking their manufactured goods made of cashmere, silk, or mohair, it has the notion of making animal cruelty free products. Marks & Spencer, on the other hand, expect to make all the products sustainable by the year 2025 so that every item they produce has an ethical quality. They have set their goals to focus on the planet, wellbeing, and the community, but this concept has to be popularized with the help of intense promotions through social media apps so that more people get to know about it (Walker, 2006). When a greater number of people start accepting a certain trend, it soon becomes the most trending or fashionable concept, and that is the kind of boost that sustainability requires in the contemporary world.
A few more fashion brands have taken up the sustainability concept to such an extent that it has become the core of formation for the brand. The brand cannot have a separate entity from the idea, which it tries to convey to the people of the world (Grant, 2007). Brands like People Tree, Antibad, Antiform, Thought, and many more have established themselves on the face of the earth as brands that do not follow the fast fashion trends but are here to preserve the natural world, as we know it. Therefore, they have taken the most common promotional tool and have reached to society and media effectively. These brands have named their label in such a way that from the very beginning one understands what this particular brand is trying to achieve. These brands promise to produce zero carbon print and opt to use all organic materials for production (Grant, 2007). These brands work with the ideal principle of providing fair pay for just work and try to maintain its stance. However, their effect on people is greater than any existing brand that is shifting towards sustainability. The name chosen by the brands serves many purposes as soon as they are announced on social media or outside.
There still is the need for rapid and impactful social content by brands that will force people to choose sustainable as well as ethical clothes over the past ones. Behind the Label has gained fast promotion through its regular and incessant activities of educating the local people of the UK, the fashion brands of the country as well as the whole population of the world on the need for ethical fashion. It can also be considered a huge success, which was made possible by the evaluation of social media(Ehrenfeld, 2008). People believe anything, which is on the internet and this concept has to be taken advantage of to reach maximum people regarding the need for sustainable yet affordable fashion.
The production of various documentaries on the need and importance of building an ethical as well as the sustainable fashion industry has helped people realize the necessity of the change. Campaigns made by the public along with the involvement of celebrities have helped the cause of sustainability. The advocacy by various celebrities for an ethical world of fashion has been successful in making the fashion industry an ethical one than it has been before (Giesen, 2008). While sites in the US like Maison De Mode and ethics are propagating sustainable fashion, various fashion brands in the UK are emerging to produce ethical fashion items as well. Brands like Stella McCartney, People Tree, Nancy Dee, Madia& Mathilda, Lowie, Eileen Fisher, and so many others are creating a future of sustainable fashion and consumers are ready to invest more in this regard (Giesen, 2008).
The fashion industry in the United Kingdom is a booming industry, which comprises of designers from the country itself and has consumers who follow trends of fashion blindly (Gwilt and Rissanen, 2010). The country has been able to overcome recession as the consumers opt for high trends, but the world of fashion is linked with disposable and cheap materials and products on one hand and luxury shopping scale on the other. This has given rise to the concept of eco-fashion. At the beginning of the 21stcentury, young entrepreneurs made sustainability and ethical concept of their foundation and not selling points. However, in 2006, the British Fashion Council launched Estethica in the London fashion week, which gave a chance to the brands working sustainably to show their products and talent (Brower, 2005). Therefore, eco-brands and the green collection became a trend in the stores.
After many discussions at significant events, the pioneers of the fashion industry agreed that to bring about a large-scale difference in the world of commerce the popularizing of sustainable fashion is important. Brands need to start educating the consumers as well as the government along with the NGOs ’ need to build legislations to carry on this process.
Models of sustainable and ethical fashion
- The information, which is to be given to the consumers, has to be quick and specific. Brands have to evolve in a way that they can persuade the consumers to buy clothes, which are guilt-free and at the same time gorgeous and stylish.
- The brands of the fashion industry have to be smart enough to appeal to the better nature of the consumer, which will make them let go of conspicuous consumption (Fletcher and Tham, 2015).
- Labeling the items clearly and transparently makes the price of the sustainable item visible. The name of the factory producing the label can be done as well (Giesen, 2008).
- Traceability is an issue, which is part of the big fashion industry. However, they can take the help of local laws and legislation and needs to work with the government of the place to make sure that the workers are treated in a just and fairway as well as the environment is looked after.
- The level of transparency amongst different brands can help the government to build legislation on the need for sustainability.
- Intervention from the government is required on a regular level to start and carry on sustainability and the ethical treatment of fashion (Blanchard, 2008).
- The brands have to look down its chain of supply with consistency.
- The senior management team has to be more aware of matters of sustainability.
- The definition of ethical fashion and sustainability has to be good so that consumers do not view it as an exclusive thing or purchase it out of guilt.
- Brands need to share their best prices along with the assessments of the factories (Blanchard, 2008).
The fashion industry has evolved and changed largely in the past centuries. The evolution of the industry has initiated new formats and trends, and new terms related to the world of fashion have found its place on the face of the earth (Braham, 2007). Ethics is a term that has existed for years but has been linked to the fashion industry quite recently. The term ethical fashion has found a firm ground among the fashion icons all around the globe as umbrella terminology that defines all the steps, which are taken to produce an item of fashion. It considers designing of an item to its production and from retailing of the product to its purchase by a consumer. However, these terms are considered along with the conditions of work, the exploitation of labor, the sustainability of production, fair-trading of the item, environment of the workplace, and finally the welfare of animals (Braham, 2007). All these points are to be considered if one has to produce an item that will be significant in the future as well.
The ethical fashion concept works closely with the concept of sustainable fashion, which is another term that has been associated recently in the world of fashion (Brooks, 2015). The term eco-fashion is another name for sustainability in the fashion industry, and it is a philosophy that demands a system. It will be supported for an indefinite amount of time by the impact of human beings on nature as well as their social responsibility towards the environment. When companies will successfully incorporate both these terms and the concepts in their regular operations and productions of fashion items, they will have a better hold and a better place in the future world to survive and succeed (Brooks, 2015).
The future of the fashion industry lies in the hands of young consumers of the UK. They are the ones who can implement and carry forward the sustainability as well as ethical trends if they chose to buy the products that promote sustainability. Celebrities like Emma Watson and Stella McCartney are the pioneers of these trends, and they try to incorporate it into the whole industry (Chapman, 2005). They have taken strategic initiatives to promote ethical notions of the fashion industry. Stella McCartney is a person who is focused on improving the world and making it a place that can sustain the world of fashion. She understands that it is a two-way street and if today we make responsible and eco-friendly choices of fashion and produce fewer amounts of pollution, and then the world will provide us with enough possibilities to carry on the fashion industry in the future. McCartney has already launched sustainable styles of fashion where her company, which is in London, produces apparel that is fur-free as well as leather-free. She has stopped following the fast fashion concepts and has chosen sustainable fashion instead of as she is a responsible individual (Chapman, 2005). Emma Watson, on the other hand, promotes the climate scientist from Australia, Tim Flannery, and discusses the conditions and changes in the Great Barrier Reef through sustainable fashion. Ethical as well as sustainable fashion faced a lot of criticism in the initial years; however, it has evolved in the last fifteen years and will continue to do so in the future to come (Soper et al. 2009). The development, production as well as the distribution of the apparels, footwear, and accessories are done in a format that helps in the preservation of the planet and has become an integral component of the fashion industry, which has been adopted by different big and small brands.
Figure 17: Emma Watson in her recycled dress by Calvin & Klein (Source- mirror.co.uk)
While concerning with the way the apparels or accessories are made, the sustainability ensures that the life cycle of the product minimizes all possible effect that is undesirable for the environment. The future trends of ethical fashion have to implement fair-trade at all times (Soper et al. 2009). Through the implementation of fair trade, the farmers who are related to the production of the raw materials required for the manufacturing of fashion items can have healthy working hours and can receive fair prices. Harvesting products through ethical means is another way to promote the trend of sustainability. The young consumers can buy ethical products and favor their promotion. Purchasing products that are organic as well as free of cruelty can serve the future trends of ethical concepts (Soper et al. 2009). Big brands such as Levi’s and Gap have accepted that transparency of sourcing into their functional as well as operational units, and they provide clear and transparent information about the label of the brand to their consumers. Promoting the sustainability trends through e-commerce sectors as well as through social media is another tool to make it a successful trend of the future and it has been discussed in the sections above already. There has to be an end to the concept of fast fashion, and fashion companies need to adopt slow fashion as the future of the fashion industry.
While the Dhaka Apparel Summit already has put in a lot of effort to mitigate poor conditions of working for the employees, which leads to the violation of normal human rights, the Labour Behind the Label is the campaign, which has received popularity in the United Kingdom because it focuses strictly on the rights of the labors of the garment and fashion industry (Lance, 2012). They have campaigned effectively and have pushed the retailers of the United Kingdom to provide compensations for long-terms, severance pay, as well as living wages. Such kinds of steps are taken by the different individuals, companies, and NGOs to bring in a new trend that will not only make stylish outfits but will also help to keep the planet alive. Therefore, these kinds of changes are required to keep the fashion industry alive in the future as well. Soon the earth will face conditions where it will be difficult to find lands for cultivation or farming. The increase in population occupies more and more land as each day passes. It will be immensely hard to find land to stay so farming for raw materials will become a vague concept. Therefore, sustainability has to be accepted now when there is still time for development (Lance, 2012). The London based brand, Stella McCartney has already stated that they will make no compromises regarding the sustainability of their products, as their brand has gained all the attention due to the unconventional stance of adopting and promoting sustainability and ethical trends largely (Chapman, 2005).
The need for more ethical concepts and sustainable fashion is growing in every field of the fashion industry and is not limited to apparels alone. More companies need to adopt the strategies, which have been incorporated into the brand made by Agatha Lintott from London in the year 2017 that promotes eco-friendly fashion. One has to reduce the number of carbon prints that are left behind by the thrown away fashion items that can damage the world up to a high level. Therefore, serious as well as severe steps need to be incorporated to minimize that effect and if possible mitigate the problem completely (Braham, 2007). They have adopted methods of manufacturing that causes minimum to almost no harm to nature. This kind of attitude is appreciated and will be the only way of survival for the companies of the future because if the planet does not sustain then the fashion industry cannot run in it. For future use and to ensure fair measures that promote sustainability as well, companies need to employ professionals who will be focused on sustainability entirely.
The brands need to check the humanitarian issue while manufacturing a product as well as look into their environmental prospect. Such kind of innovations and creative designers will survive and grow to find immense success in the future (Braham, 2007). While considering the ethical context of the fashion industry the raw materials as well as the final product have to be finished in the same country, which will ensure lower mileage and better standards of product and work climate. Using organic materials is also a significant change that has to be incorporated to bring sustainability and ethical fashion trends. Making clothes that are free of chemical fertilizers, toxic chemicals made in an artificial way as well as pesticides is quite important, as they will leave carbon print on earth (Gwilt, 2014). Making new clothes from deadstock fabrics is important as well as recycling the older materials is crucial to continue the success rate of the fashion industry. The vegan material concept is a new method of making clothes, which are free from the cruelty of animals and do not use any kind of animal products like fur, leather, tusk, skin, and others for the making of fashionable items or pieces of clothing. Popular brands need to promote vintage items, which are products of high quality but are second-hand goods. These kinds of products have a value for their vintage aspect and help to sustain the environment as no new materials that are harmful is being used to manufacture new items (Gwilt, 2014).
Figure 18: H&M Conscious Collection
(Source- mdpo.com) [Online Image]
The conservation of the products is important to make a carbon-neutral fashion industry. Therefore, from all the above-mentioned points we can state that sustainability is crucial for the improvement of the planet and making it pollution-free (Cline, 2013). It is also important to provide ethical standards of work so that there are no further protests against it. Labels have to be eco-friendly, and the environmentalists are already appreciating different individuals of the fashion industry as the sharing of the clothing items is a new trend that is similar to the “Rent the Runway’ concept. It mitigates the accumulation of dresses and promotes the selling of ethically sourced items to the younger generations who are more concerned about the changing climatic conditions (Cline, 2013). So, to bring is rapid and impactful differences in the future trends of fashion and accepting ethical and sustainable fashion in the regular lives of people approaching the consumers will serve as a significant tool for change and implementation.
The concept of sustainable fashion has brought about a sudden change in the fashion world where green is considered the new black (Blanchard, 2008). There has to be a change in the concept of luxury products as well in the UK. While big brands have promoted their luxury items with the use of fashion shows, celebrities on the red carpet, provocative commercials, and many more, this has given rise to products of inferior quality, which are outsourced rampantly to the developing nations (Thomas, 2008). This creates a huge surge in illicit activities and counterfeiting as well. However, when brands in the UK understand the beauty of sustainability and the green fashion trend is propagated, there will be conservation of the environment, the consumers will be attracted to these eco-friendly products, and the connection will build a better future for the fashion industry (Thomas, 2008).
From the research done above, it can conclude that sustainability and the ethical treatment of the components of the world of fashion is the future. Being well dressed does not only concern buying costly fashion items. It concerns whether the items brought are sustainable or not and if they were environment-friendly. Information about the working conditions of the employees is to be noted as well. The fashion industry and its outlook need a radical change if they would like to conduct business in the years to come. The fashion industry in the UK has to consider the flow of the materials, which is happening through the UK to help the future of the fashion sector. The government policies of the UK have to raise a social concern and educate the population of the country to make durable components with the use of improved technology. That is how the sustainable and ethical fashion world can be achieved.
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