Thursday, 30 June 2016

The Ethics Behind The Industry: Scratching The Surface

As a student studying fashion, I know how hard it is to also be on a student's budget. Looking "cool", having the latest trends and buying branded clothing seem to be a given in terms of how people view me and my fellow classmates. But in order to keep on top of trends, it often means having a large budget. And let's be honest, university is not cheap, so people tend to resort to buying into fast fashion. But what people are only just now starting to become more conscious of, is the ethics behind it all. How are their clothes made? Who makes their clothing? Are they being made with safe practises? The world used to turn a blind eye to this side of the industry, but in recent years I've noticed a shift in society. People are starting to care.

I sat down and had a large discussion with some friends over lunch about the issue of buying ethically made clothing. No, this does not mean I have to spends hundreds of dollars on a t-shirt made of 100% organically grown cotton (which if I had the funds for I probably would). But it means making myself aware of the background of the companies I choose to purchase goods from, buying second hand and educating myself on fashion ethics and what that means for the consumer. Now I'm not saying I'm an expert in this matter, far from it. I have barely scratched the surface. But in saying that, hopefully I can encourage those around me to do the same in educating themselves. I cannot save the planet on my own, but by practising it myself, and helping to inform others, hopefully we as a whole can make a difference. 

The world started to really think about it after the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh collapsed several years ago, killing over 1000 garment workers. It opened people's eyes to the terrible working conditions in some of the factories where clothes we wear are made. It made me personally stop and think, "am I feeding into something that people die over?". It shocked me to the core that I can tell you. 

After this tragedy, organisations and movements have been formed with people now avidly taking part in things such as Fashion Revolution and asking brands "Who made my clothes?", to encourage transparency within the fashion industry. This has gained a lot of popularity over the few years it has been running, with even celebrities posting photos of them getting involved in the campaign on various social media sites. In my part of the world (Down Under) Baptist World Aid Australia has come out with a report on ethical fashion and is rating companies on their ethical practises so the consumers within New Zealand and Australia can become more aware of the brands they are choosing to purchase goods from. This guide has not only enlightened the people that buy their products, but also the companies themselves as it encourages them to look into who their suppliers are and that the practises being used are safe for the workers.

I'm going to continue researching into this issue, and encourage all of you to do the same. I'm not saying I'm going to immediately switch to 100% ethical products, but I'm going to do my best to make a real difference in how I buy clothing and what I can do to support this movement.

Elise xo

No comments:

Post a Comment