Sunday, 28 November 2010

“How ethical is your fashion?”

This shocking article covered by BBC journalist Madeleine Holt discusses the burning issue of “how ethical is your fashion?” This question is a raising topic of concern within the textile and fashion industry today. Within the society we live in, it is evident that high street fashion is making a huge impact on the environment. Consumers are so addicted to shopping and having the latest fashion or celebrity trends for as cheap as possible that the issue of how well designed the garment is, where the materials were sourced or how ethical just simply don’t get given a thought the majority of the time.

The key question posed within this report would be how we can help reduce landfill and become more sustainable. It seems that it is a matter of raising awareness and educating people on how buying sustainable and ethically made fashion will reap huge benefits long term. However, in this report Jane Sheperdson reckons there is a gap in the market for quality, beautifully designed pieces that last. (Holt, 2008) If this is true then we as designers need to address this issue before the consumer can make a difference. Madeleine Holt states a few shocking statistics. We are buying around 2m tonnes of clothes every year and nearly 1.5m of this ends up in landfill. This means we are buying a third more clothes than we were a decade ago. (Holt, 2008) Figures such as these back up the seriousness of this argument that sustainability needs to be addressed and quickly.

The conclusions we can draw from this article are that the public needs to buy less and hang on to clothes longer as this will have knock on effects such as less landfill, less pollution and an overall positive effect on the environment. Dr Corner, London College of Fashion states that we need to find the fun in holding onto clothes for longer. She says, “Customise them, exchange them with other people, eventually recycle them into something different. I think it will be much more fulfilling for people in the end than the throwaway frenzy we have now." (Corner, 2008)

If the sustainable, ethical clothing market took off and became available to the public on the high street it is assumed that people will want to support this. We are assuming that the general consumer cares about the environment and ethical issues enough to pay that extra few pounds for something similar they could have purchased in the fast fashion high street for cheaper. Are morals really going to rise above this cheap fashion fetish which has become like an addictive drug to our society? Through this article awareness will be raised of both the social, economic and environmental implications of fast fashion versus the ethical clothing market. This could have the potential to spark and inspire both designers and consumers to take a bigger interest in this subject as a whole. Without raising awareness and education on such a global and important issue nothing will change. We will simply stay stationary with the possibility of slipping backwards but never moving forwards.

M.Holt (7 Feburary 2008), How ethical is your fashion?

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