Posted on 15 October 2014
Trade Not Aid
Awareness of ethical fashion has created a desire to buy a more sustainable product, but it appears that the majority of available fashion causes harm to the environment, humans and animals. It is difficult to live an all round ethical lifestyle, however, there are companies and consumers that care.
‘Ethical Fashion is an umbrella term to describe ethical 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.’
Many products you can buy are recycled, upcyled, vintage, ethically handmade, fair trade, environmentally friendly, sustainable and animal friendly; but many are not all of these combined. The more you look into the journey the product took to get to you, the more you realise that there is a huge problem.
‘Garment workers throughout the globe are traditionally paid the minimum wage and work long hours in substandard, environmentally hostile conditions in order to produce the clothes that we take for granted. In the developing world, countries such as Indonesia and China mass-produce enough clothes to reach to the moon and back every day. This routine production and exploitation in the name of fashion means we can buy a new T-shirt for 50p while retailers reap huge profits from these suffering workers.’
There will always be a demand for a new product, rather than recycled product. The latest trends create a need for a change beyond the absolutely necessary. To be ethical we must try as consumers to be aware of the impact the product has on it's journey to us as buyers.
Celebrity endorsement has made a massive difference
The use of celebrity endorsements of ethical fashion has brought about a change, as the right 'face' can encapsulate the ideal to which consumers wish to aspire when achieving the right ethical balance. Marketing products in this way helped bridge the gap between fashion and conscience.
I recently read a piece on the ethical fashion forum (below) about how celebrity Lily Cole used her fame to raise awareness for sustainable fashion.
‘Lily Cole, international super-model, celebrity and now ethical business woman. Although most renowned for her participation in catwalk shows such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and for being the face of Marks & Spencer (2008), Lily frequently campaigns for a more sustainable fashion industry through her very public work with the Environmental Justice Foundation. More recently, these ethical ideals have been transferred to the North Circular label, founded by Lily and her business partner Katherine Poulton. Selling casual yet luxurious knitwear from the wool of rescued sheep which is then “knitted by Grannies”, the North Circular is a prime example of how celebrity status can have a positive impact upon sustainable fashion. “We have been very blessed that the attention has all been positive for the North Circular”, commented former model and co-founder, Katherine Poulton. “There are a lot of people out there doing amazing things that just don’t get coverage, celebrity status definitely gets the spotlight turned onto you, but once it is there, you have to do the rest… [The North Circular] wasn’t just funny, it was kind of brilliant and caught people’s imagination.”
Charlotte’s Web UK
So although there is still a gap, In recent years we have come a long way to achieving all round ethical fashion. We are always grateful to our Charlotte’s Web customers for supporting our aim for ‘trade not aid’.
We buy directly from the small businesses who actually make our clothes, handmade goods and jewellery. This policy ensures that the profits go back to the people who make the goods rather than to a middleman. We import all of our own goods and personally oversee all of our production, ensuring that throughout this process all of our suppliers adhere to the principles of fair trade. Thereby ensuring that all those involved in producing all of our goods receive a fair wage, work in a good, safe environment and that no child labour is used. We are interested in creating beneficial long term relationships with our suppliers, this approach has lead to a non exploitative and trusting relationship between us. Having a love, and respect for the countries that we trade with, we are determined that our business would help rather than exploit the people with which we trade.
Handmade - We support traditional and small scale production of handmade products, creating a demand for the handmade goods that people in developing countries so skillfully produce and ensure that the producers get a fair reward for the goods that they produce.
Materials - Most of our clothes are made from natural materials such as cotton and silk. We encourage our producers to use vegetable and mineral based dyes wherever possible. We recycle saris in the production of some of our clothing collection too.
Packaging - From day one we have always had a strict no plastic bag policy, selling all our goods in recycled paper and fabric bags only. We minimise the amount of plastic used in packaging and recycle as much of our packing materials as possible.
Printing - All our marketing materials and promotions are sent electronically unless specifically requested. Any printed materials where possible will be printed on recycled paper and card.
Recycling - We ensure the maximum amount of waste is recycled on both our stall and in our day to day life. We recycle sari fabrics in our clothing collections.
Energy - At Events and Festivals we keep our electricity requirements to a minimum, using power only for lighting if power is used at all.
Love, Charlotte x
Sources - click on quote to be taken to source