Where to begin?

I’ve been researching ethical fashion for a while and every time I feel like I’ve got a handle on it, I learn something new or gain a new perspective that changes everything. Like all causes or objectives, there are a multitude of facets and variables to unravel. In the unravelling, more and more pros and cons arise; as soon as I decide where I stand on one aspect, I learn something that makes me rethink my stance. Sometimes it’s the choice between prioritizing people in the short-term or the environment in the long-term. Or, parts of the industry require overhauls to such an extent that the resultant ill-effects to so many interconnected factors would render the changes worthless.

Trying to concentrate on one aspect and really channelling all my energy into that could be more worthwhile and could effectuate more change. But does that mean I isolate one facet at the expense of all others? Some people are concerned with Fairtrade and certifications, others with ethical work practices and others still with the extensive damage to the environment, yet within these three general categories, there are hundreds of individual aspects to consider. It’s a minefield of do’s and don’t’s and causes a lot of confusion for those willing to get involved and even more so for consumers. I struggle to see why or how any consumer would buy into the ‘ethical’ world when the information is so unclear and the protagonists so divergent in their opinions.

My only solution is to take each new piece of information as an individual nugget and decide whether it’s something I wish to endorse or not. For now I’m willing to support any company or individual who is at least trying and acknowledging that change is needed, without suggesting that their products are the last word in ethical fashion! While that might sound a little wishy-washy, I don’t think it’s possible to begin with a dogmatic approach and risk alienating some of the hardest working and well-meaning people in the industry.

And so it begins…


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8 Responses to Where to begin?

  1. It is a minefield when you think about it too much, but I think you’re taking the right approach.

  2. Gillian says:

    Hi Louise,

    Lovely blog – could you email me when you have a moment….



  3. Ethics Girls says:

    Hi there
    i would agree that the topic of ethical fashion is confusing and totally think you have a good approach.
    I used to work in the Fairtrade tea & coffee arena – we sold fairtrade and organic teas & coffees. Looking back now that seems fairly easy for consumers to understand as they are 2 big well known certification labels.
    So I moved into ethical fashion….. partly tempted into this sector because it is fairly new, partly because of its complexity, and partly because despite the confusion and complexity. What I like is that the term ethical fashion has a holistic approach as it seeks to address the problems within the entire supply chain. For fairtrade its about the farmers at the beginning, for organics, its about the soil and being as natural as possible. For ethical fashion, it seeks to address all issues, from the farmers, to the manufacturing process through to the sustainability of the textiles. Oh and lets not forget it also has to be fashionable!!!

    I have worked in Fairtrade for many years and it was a given among the the pioneers and the mission based fairtrade companies that we all worked on an economy of trust. So I think that is what consumers need to do at this moment in time. It is how we work at Ethics Girls. You need to look around at each company and brand, check out their products, check out their company aims and also check out how they want to develop in the future. If you like them, like what they are saying and think they their values sit well you with you, then thats a brilliant start. We seemed for awhile to get hung up on our inconsistencies – that just stops us in our tracks. If we have good intentions, and try our best to do better that is the main thing. So researching brands and products is a great way to start šŸ™‚

    I am sure in the future this approach will feel abit wish washy but at the moment in time I think this is a great beginning.

    • Hi Ethics Girls! Thank you so much for your insight! It’s nice to hear from people who have been in the industry for a while and I agree that getting hung-up on inconsistencies is counter productive. The great thing about ethical fashion being a vast topic is that it will continue to inspire me and sustain my interest. Thanks again for your support šŸ™‚

  4. ceri says:

    I know exactly what you mean. It is really difficult to know what to do for the best but I always think that doing something is always better than doing nothing. For example, 6 months ago I pledged to try and avoid buying synthetic clothing because of its impact on the environment. But I have since discovered that perhaps synthetic clothing is not always such a bad thing as it is easier to wash than some natural fabrics and often lasts longer, it can also be recycled easier. I have also seen some Fairtrade ethical clothing made from synthetics. Whilst environmentally it is best to buy second hand, from the perspective helping people in thirld world move out of poverty Fairtrade is best.

    An interesting post and I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  5. It is a huge topic to encounter I find the more I enter in the more I feel overwhelmed. It is fascinating but so many theories and so many opinions are involved but what I do feel above all is that it is a much needed area in this extremely complicated industry with the extremely complicated supply chain. I would encourage all who wish to encounter the textile industry with an interest in sustainability and ethical fashion would be to network like crazy attends as much talks and events ad possible and find your own area of expertise. I focus on Africas role in the global textile industry investigating if it is the next sourcing region of the world and have a focus on the social aspect as well as environment too.

    Do keep up what you are beginning and I look forward to reading more from you in due course. Jacqueline Africa Fashion Guide – http://www.africafashionguide.wordpress.com

  6. Brendan Connellan says:

    Hi Louise, I am from Dublin (but living in New York) and am traveling with my girlfriend throughout Europe – she is in jewelry design and I want to forward her your thoughts on ethics which I found very interesting. It is a subject very close to her heart. We are in London for all of March and in Paris for all of April so would love to pick your brain on those cities and jewelry and design in either. I attach my email below if you think you could get time for a 20 minute coffee at some time. Keep up this great blog, Brendan

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