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What is “Ethical Fashion”?

 Have you heard the word “ethical fashion” that has become a trend in the fashion industry in recent years? Ethical is an adjective that represents ethics and morality, and ethical fashion refers to fashion that procures, manufactures and sells materials in consideration of environmental, labor and social issues. It is characterized by not only using environmentally friendly materials such as organic materials and recycled fibers but also emphasizing the environment of workers in the manufacturing and sales process.

Giving workers skills and saving them from poverty:

 The International Trade Center (ITC), a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, is running the “Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI)” as a flagship program. In this program, female workers in poor environments in developing countries will be supported to acquire skills and become independent with earning a fair wage. Some brands including Vivienne Westwood, Adidas, and United Arrows support this effort.

 In the program started in 2013, activities have been conducted to connect communities, that have been alienated from the international market, such as Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast into the market. Craftsmen from all over the world are involved in this program. For example, under fair and appropriate working conditions, creative manufacturing utilizing traditional techniques of developing countries, such as collaboration between Maasai beading in Kenya and Afghan silk fabric, is underway. EFI operates its own “living wage calculation tool”: If it is determined that the legal minimum wage in a developing country does not meet the amount required for workers, they will save the workers from poverty by paying living wages enough for the workers to support their dependents.

To prevent further tragedies:

 Since the disruptive accident of a building “Lana Plaza” in Bangladesh in 2013, ethical fashion has attracted attention. The serious accident resulted in 1,134 deaths and more than 2500 injuries, most of which were female workers in a garment factory working at a low wage in a terrible environment. Since the fact surfaced that these “exploited workers” had supported the international expansion of fast fashion, companies and industry embarked on improvement.

We, as consumers, have expanded the fast fashion market. Understanding what “ethical” is and purchasing from brands that are trying to contribute to society may be the greatest support we can provide for EFI.

Photo:UN ALLIANCE FOR SUSTAINABLE FASHION

2019.11.22