Fashion is an ever evolving industry and within the past decades new terms have come to light, like “Fast fashion", "sustainable fashion", and "eco-friendly fashion”. These terms can all sound confusing when reading it out for the first time, but each term means different things and each term has its own global impact, whether positive or negative.
Thanks to consumers' growing interest in ethical fashion brands and how their clothes ARE made, the sustainable fashion industry is now worth $6.35 billion USD and is expected to grow up to $9 billion USD by 2025
Are you confused about what is considered ethical fashion? How can you do your part as a smart consumer when shopping for eco-friendly clothes? Read on to find out more.
What Is Ethical Fashion?
"Ethical fashion" is more of an umbrella term than a definite term. It is human-centered at its core, focusing on every worker involved in every stage of the production process, workers such as the cotton farmers, weavers, garment workers, and retail employees.
It is the opposite of "fast fashion", which is fashion that is produced cheap, low-quality, and disposable, that isn't intended to last for a long time. The focus for ethical fashion is to create a better future for all workers and our environment, while addressing any injustices that already exist and reducing any potential harm.
Ethical fashion sounds vague and is hard to define, but it stands for innovative changes that improve and better people's lives.
Why Is It Important?
There are many issues in the way many clothes and accessories are produced in the fashion industry. Even so, it can be confusing at first to explain why ethical fashion is necessary and needed. The answers to why the production of ethical fashion is important are included here.
Fighting Low Wages
The sad truth (and standard in the industry) is the majority of workers involved in fast fashion and non-eco-friendly clothing production are not paid a fair wage. This can mean garment workers can earn as little as two or three dollars per hour, not earning enough to support their financial and familial obligations.
As workers are not paid fairly, they are also likely to be one of the first people fired in their company whenever a fashion crisis occurs.
Basic Worker Rights Globally
While some of the above workers quietly accept the inequality because that is the standard in their area, many others do their best to try and improve their conditions by challenging their factories and brands to provide better pay and working conditions.
More often than not, the ability to organize or negotiate these terms is forbidden. Also, many of these attempts get quieted or shut down by union-busting, threats to their employment status, and unfair layoffs or firing.
These workers are routinely shut down from having basic worker rights and it is important for consumers to know how well the people making their favorite clothes are treated.
Reducing Exploitative Conditions
Ninety-seven percent of garment manufacturing is done inside sweatshops in the Global South (countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania). Sweatshops in these countries are noted to exploit their workers and risk their health and safety.
This happens thanks to relaxed labor laws in other countries that permit workers to undergo extreme hours, low pay, and dangerous working conditions. Conditions like these especially affect women who make up a large part of the garment industry's workforce.
Limiting Fast Fashion's Impact
Fast fashion is easy to buy for people who want to find a specific style they like. For those consumers, it is helpful that the latest trend can get to their doors fast. While fast fashion is convenient, it comes at a detrimental cost to planet Earth.
The production of fast fashion is responsible for more carbon emissions than air travel and maritime activities per year. This is because they require excessive use of water, the distribution of microplastics being transported to the ocean, and millions of metric tons of clothing getting consumed then dumped in landfills.
In the end, the questions any consumer must ask when going shopping are:
- “Who made this product?”
- “Are the employees making them earning a fair living wage?”
- "Are the employees working in a safe environment?"
- “What are the fabrics used in this product? Are they synthetic or organic?"
Once you know the answers to those questions, the decision to support or oppose that brand is up to you.
How Do You Support Ethical Fashion Brands?
Learning about ethical fashion is easy, but how do you support them? Here are some ways you can support ethical fashion brands in your everyday life.
- Watch out for "greenwashing", where brands market themselves as eco friendly but are not
- Educate yourself on intersectional environmentalism, how communities and their environment depend on one another.
- Do your research on where your favourite brands produce their clothes
- Research if a brand supports sustainable living
- Be mindful of which clothes are made with ethical and sustainable fabrics
When it comes to wearing ethical fashion, taking action is just as important as clicking "buy now". It is just another step to making infinite opportunities for a better tomorrow on this planet.
Shop Ethical Fashion for Everyday Life
The question of what is ethical fashion can be subjective, but it does help offer a framework for a larger movement of change within an industry that depends on consumerism.
YUNG is made by three siblings in Northern Quebec. As parents, aunts, and uncles, we want to give our children and children all over the country a better tomorrow and a place for their own individualism.
Made in Canada, our gender-neutral clothing can fit sustainable living goals for both kids and adults. Anyone can be proud of wearing our GOTS-certified, gender-neutral, 100% organic cotton outfits in everyday life. Shop our Chapter Zero collection today and stay YUNG.