Ethical Fashion is no longer a niche, but rather a common everyday practice that we should all be supporting and promoting. It is the lack of awareness that is really holding ethical fashion back, and this is what I have endeavored to do over the past few weeks. Ethical fashion doesn’t have to break the budget, it doesn’t have to be a second-hand item that was bought at the local markets, and most importantly it doesn’t have to lose its style and trendiness appeal. Ethical fashion is far more readily available than what you may have originally thought.
Fashion is a form of self-identity, we are our own blank canvas, and the clothes that we wear are a creation of our minds, an artwork on display for the rest of the world. Fashion is the story of not only ourselves but we are also providing support to the story of the individual who produced that clothing, and the processes involved in the production of the clothes that we wear. We as humans need to step away from the disconnected process that we undergo as shoppers in the fashion market, we need to stop and think and ultimately be more mindful as to where we are purchasing our clothes and the conditions in which those clothes are made.
The only way we can make a difference is to start asking those challenging questions, to start demanding that more information as to the history of the product, to educate ourselves and in turn others. So next time you walk into that department store, or trendy little boutique start asking questions, start raising awareness and educate yourself on the items of clothing that you wear.
Want to watch a documentary film that will change your perception forever? This story is global in context, it affects everyone, it exemplifies how connected we are, it is about simplicity, it is about fashion.
Andrew Morgan’s 2015 film The True Cost was the game changer for me. Watching this film on a Thursday evening, after a friends recommendation changed my shopping habits for life. I can honestly say I was an ignorant consumer prior to seeing the stark reality behind the production of clothes that I wore. I was an active participator in fast-fashion. I would purchase any item for the “bargain price” despite knowing that I would probably never actually wear the item more than once, if at all.
This film highlights the journey of the ethical costs not only in regards to the environment but also the human costs associated with out clothing. We are all actively participating in a fast-fashion culture where we are concerned with low-cost items with little to no regards or concern for the external factors that are suffering at our expense.
We are participating in a culture where we are only benefitting the big brands, the large producers and are forgetting about the little guy. The price for items has lowered, however, the cost of the product being made and produced has increased. We are living in a time period where we practically expect 52 seasons a year, with new products coming in every week, where previously we were receiving 2 seasons a year.
This new model that we have all become accustomed to- the 52 seasons a year model meant that corners had to be cut, or prices would have to be increased. Corners cut was an extremely common condition that resulted in one horrific accident in the early morning hours on the 24th April, the Rana Plaza. The eight-story building completely collapsed, killing more than 1000 people, being the worst garment industry related disaster.
How can we as consumers be happy purchasing these low-cost items, when the consequences of our actions can cause such horrific and terrible outcomes. This film has caused me to start thinking about the journey behind the production of my clothing and those people who have been involved in the production process. The True Cost is a truly remarkable documentary film that opened my eyes into what really goes on in the fashion industry.
The notion of ethical fashion comes with a misconstrued idea that it isn’t high end or fashionable in nature. With my friend, recently engaged the hunt for the perfect wedding dress has begun. Every bride has an idea as to what they are looking for, what style/cut, price guide, and colour. What this particular bride had added into the mix was “ethical”.
This was a great starting point as we trolled websites such as Good On You, The Social Studio, Ethical Bride, Desert Designs, Kowtow, and Bindarri. With this as our starting point it became apparent to both of us that finding an ethical wedding dress may be a much easier task than we first thought, thank goodness!
Moving away from the classic brands such as “Grace Loves Lace” “Vera Wang” and the commerical wedding stores meant that the crowds we had to face were far less stressful than it would be for others, we avoided bridal fairs and other exhibitions, indirectly saving both herself and myself a lot of money on travel costs, accommodation and even our sanity!
A Rachel Cassar design captured our eye, and the beautiful, textured design was a one-off unique piece as it was produced from recycled materials. Her brand exemplifies her philosophy of producing garmets with a focus on the free and “creative spirit”. The dress looked absolutely stunning on, and knowing that no-one will ever haeve the same dress was a selling point, Cassar maintaining that she is “one person, not a machine, and don’t want to produce just anything for the sake of it” gives each piece a story, that works in conjunciton with the purchaser. Her semi-coture gowns and pieces matches the personality of the bride perfectly, proving that you can truly have high-end eco-friendly fashion.
Newtown’s King Street is the heart and soul of celebrating all individual’s, whose style and ethos are completely unique to themselves. Walking along King Street, you’ll find yourself immersed between an abundance of funky beats, bright and bold colours, street art, markets and whole in the wall cafes. What you find most with Newtown is its ability to transform you into another world, a story of magic and uncertainties, where one minute you’ll be sipping on your organically roasted coffee bean takeaway coffee in your keep-cup, followed by stumbling upon a gig at Newtown Social Club.
Wondering along King Street, I’ve spotted the most gorgeous ‘Gorman’esque fabric, that would make a truly beautiful shift dress. Walking into the store I am approached by a warm and friendly personality. Once speaking with the shop assistant for a while, she informs me that “out back” is where the true magic happens. The women who are employed in this company, The Social Outfit have all come from refugee or migrant communities.
The Social Outfit has been created mirroring the success of the Melbourne-based social enterprise, The Social Studio. The point of difference that I would like to highlight here, is that the non-profit organisation not only employees those from migrant and refugee communities, but it also helps educate them in providing a safe, welcoming and supporting environment. The CEO, Jackie Ruddock has highlighted that teaching the employees about their working rights and contracts are also a key part of the organisation.
With half of the material sourced being from industry waste, The Social Outfit is environmentally sustainable also. The Social Outfit believes that creativity combined with fashion can produce empowerment, especially through the traditional art forms that each of their employees brings with them. Focusing on all aspects of the business from marketing, advertising, promotion, designing, producing and the sale of the product, this company is doing an incredible job in supporting, and encouraging ethical fashion.
What once was a relatively mundane philanthropic event focused on raising funds for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute, the Met Gala has shifted into one of the biggest nights on the celebrity calendar year. The invite-only event that occurs on the first Monday of May annually, allows celebrities to stand and pose in one-off designer gowns and suits alike upon the famous New York steps heading into the museum itself.
Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology was the theme of this year’s event orchestrated by Fashion powerhouse Anna Wintour. This theme looked at the collaboration and organic relationship between clothing and technology. Whilst few celebrities and invited guests rarely dress to the theme, this year Calvin Klein teamed up with three influential personalities and produced some of the most fashion forward and ethical/sustainable designs of the decade. Margot Robbie, Lupita Nyong’o and Emma Watson all looked stunning in their pieces that utilised recycling plastic, organic cotton and other recycled materials.
Emma Watson’s outfit was a true show stopper, that was created entirely from taffets woven from plastic yarn, sustainable cotton, and satin. Having sustainability in mind every step of the way, the use of three types of plastic, organic cotton, and organic silk. Not only is the piece made from the perspective or repurposing and recycling materials, it has also been produced with the idea that each part can be worn on its own.
Emma’s outfit proves that high-end fashion can be sustainable, & red carpet winners can be designed and made with an ethical and sustainable focus in mind. Watson pairing with Eco-Age and Calvin Klein for this Green Carpet Event has since vowed to wear only ethical designs and items on her upcoming red carpet events enhancing the vision of sustainable clothing. In her collaboration, the influence and power of technology for turning everyday waste and repurposing it into a high-end runway piece.
Eco Threads was founded on the idea that our individual footprint on the earth is inclusive of more than just food waste, plastic packaging, our environmental footprint in regards to our consumption of energy, water, and electricity that occurs outside a carbon neutral realm. Our individual footprint also includes the clothing we wear and the way in which throw away, re-use and the clothes we purchase, to begin with. Eco Threads aims to promote ethical, environmentally friendly, sustainable and socio-economical clothing and educate people on brands that are aware of their ethical and social responsibilities. The Melbourne Spring Fashion Week started some
Eco Threads is all about promoting ethical runway fashion. Typically the fashion industry has been masked as the perfect world, showing attractive men and women in the latest trends, cuts and colours as curated by fashion designers. What is missing in this industry is the underlying and background noise where the clothes are actually made, from the sourcing of the threads to the final product being produced. We as consumers aren’t exposed to the harsh reality behind the making of our clothes, something which needs to change in order for everyone to live in a more socially and ethical world.
Runway fashion comes at a price, often a price that is far too high for the average person to bear. Here, I am not speaking about the financial cost associated with an item of clothing, but rather the individual cost associated to the dressmaker, who more often than not is being paid a below average wage, working in sweatshop conditions. What Eco Threads aims to do is shed light onto good quality clothing brands who are aware of their social and ethical responsibilities thus sourcing their materials and products in a socially responsible and ethical way. Whilst the cost of these items may be of far greater cost up front the long-standing impact of choosing an ethical product provides a much greater benefit to all.
Ethical fashion doesn’t have to be just those one-off bargain items that you find at the local op shop, nor does it have to be an expensive process. Ethical fashion is about looking at your wardrobe and seeing quality over quantity, it’s about supporting your local community and knowing that no individual suffered in the creation of your clothes. We all have a part to play in promoting a socially, environmentally and sustainable planet, the small choices we make have a long-lasting effect and we must choose wisely.
Eco Threads is a platform that highlights and celebrates ethical runway fashion, ethical fashion is more than just purchasing second-hand items, it is about knowing the story behind your product.
“Ethical designers make clothes that are just as elaborate, beautiful and artful as others” Isabel Lucas MSFW Ambassador.
Fashion is something that we are all involved in wether or not we chose to be. All of our choices indirectly have an impact upon the environment that we are apart of. For many, the clothes that you to choose to wear has involved a very basic thought process. You needed a white t-shirt, so you went out and bought a white t-shirt. What we aren’t thinking about when shopping is the source of where the white t-shirt actually comes from, who has been the one responsible for creating, designing and using the pattern in order to produce the white t-shirt that you see in your closet. Well it’s time for that to change. This years Melbourne Spring Fashion Week (MSFW) shed light onto “Ethical Fashion” and what it means for a brand or clothing company to be ethical.
For an event that can at times appear to be shallow, in a world where one doesn’t usually associate things such as sustainable living, environmentally friendly choices and protecting our environment, this years MSFW has stood apart from the rest, showing a different view of what fashion is, where it is sourced, and how it is produced. Ethical fashion has always been on the scene, but only has it recently become a blip on anybody’s radar. We need to start producing and sourcing our material in an environmentally sustainable and sound way, ensuring that we are aware of our footprint on the planet.
MSFW are not only highlighting and praising designers such as Carla Zampatti, Manning Cartell, White Suede, Bianca Spender and more for their work in ethical fashion causing them to be key focal attractions at this years event due to the nature of their business in encompassing the spirit and theme of the week, ethical and sustainable fashion they are also educating the wider audience on what it means to be ethically sustainable in fashion. There are numerous designers and ways for our fashion to be ethical, however more often than not it comes with a rather expensive price-tag. The real question is, how much are you willing to pay to know that your clothing has been made in a more ethical, sustainable and environmentally conscious way?
We as the shoppers and consumers of fashion, are now faced with more information and facts than ever before relating to the standards of conditions of the clothes that we are purchasing, so we need to start thinking about that white t-shirt, the journey form beginning to end, and where we want to put our money. We need to be a conscience consumer as we are the ones who are ultimately going to be responsible for this world.