How Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion​​

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The Ecological Development of 2020

2020 has been an eye-opener for the global environmental crisis.

We sat down with members from the British Fashion Council, Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins, digital communications manager and Judith Rosser-Davies, Head of government relations & education to discuss the huge crisis that is affecting our environment today, sustainability within the fashion industry. Designers and workers from various luxury fashion houses like Stella McCartney, joined forces to discuss new innovative solutions to create positive changes within our community. During the conference, we discovered there is a huge lack of support systems put in place all over the globe. Although the US has reported being forward-thinking on matters concerning sustainable fashion. The UK and the rest of the world are yet to catch up.

Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion

Sustainable fashion is a movement and process of fostering positive change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. Sustainable fashion concerns more than addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion. 

So how can we be ethical through aesthetics?

Ethical Fashion is a term used to describe fashion design, production, retail, and purchasing. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare. The high street clothing industry accounts for a massive share of Western retail. Every year, Dubai Mall has over 80 million shoppers and 100 million shoppers visit London’s Oxford Street alone. Globalization means that trade and materials can be purchased internationally where commerce is equally low. In addition to factory-made procedures of growing, cotton means textiles can be produced at a fast-rate, low-cost, and in huge amounts. The reductions in these processes are then continued to the market, meaning that high street fashion brands are able to sell goods at increasingly low prices, and a significant amount of goods are considered disposable, generating waste.

The major concerns highlighted about unethical labor are the working conditions, animal cruelty, environmental harm, waste and the use of dangerous chemicals.

The more serious concerns are that many Child workers, and vulnerable adults, can be forced into labor, abuse, violence, subject to work overtime, confined and unsanitary conditions, and very little or no pay. The lower the budget rate of production, means that the less the workers who make the clothes get paid.

Ethical Fashion Forum reported, “Cotton provides much of the world’s textiles but growing it uses 22.5% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of the world’s pesticides, chemicals that can be dangerous for the environment and harmful to the farmers who grow it.”

Many fast fashion brands gain fast financial rewards from this economic strategy. Stella Claxton, Senior Lecturer of Fashion at Nottingham Trent University says, “Fast fashion brands are able to be successful as they can try a style and mass produce it. They focus on trends and are able to meet the customer’s needs for ‘newness’. If Kim Kardashian-West wears something on Instagram today, they can mass produce it tomorrow.”

Harry Ancely, co-founder of Oblique, sustainable and neo-futurist outerwear brand, gives us his take on ecological fashion.

Harry says, “To me, sustainability is common sense – As a global citizen and entrepreneur, co-founder of Oblique, an outerwear brand, sustainability is becoming a natural way of approaching things.” Harry adds, “Sustainability has to be systematic and transversal.”

“Every decision Charles PINEL – my friend and partner – and I are taking, we are considering it through financial, social, and ecological aspects. It is a compromise to find a fair balance between those three parameters in each problematic. As it should be mandatory, sustainability shouldn’t be a way to stand out from other brands. However, even if the ideology behind sustainability emerged at the end of the ’80s, we are still far to concretely apply it”

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