Wouldn’t it be nice if all the things we love best were good for us and good for the planet? Not so in the real world but quite frankly, if we could exercise a bit of control while we’re working to make things better for everyone, we’d probably be a nicer bunch anyway. That is, if we cared less about the latest this or the newest that, we’d probably have a lot more room in our lives for caring more about what we’re doing to the planet and how the other half live.
That’s why it’s so interesting to think of ethical fashion and whether these two words can really belong together or not. Fairtrade fashion is undoubtedly something that the fashionistas like to blog about and shout about and occasionally feature on a product page but you’re unlikely to see a size zero model sporting ethical clothes on the cover of the glossiest fashion or lifestyle magazine, after all, it’s still not as en vogue as McQueen or McCartney and certainly doesn’t carry the same cachet.
So will there be a time that ethical fashion and couture meet and become one? Possibly in the very distant future yes but at the moment there just isn’t the range of fabrics widely available from ethical sources and there’s no way the outfits you see on the runway will be entirely made of organic cotton anytime soon. What you should remember though is that there are high end fashion designers championing Fairtrade clothing and while this might seem insignificant when they’re continuing to create from non-ethical and Fairtrade sources, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
If you look on the high street, you’ll be amazed at the growth in ethical and fairtrade fashion labels and collections and most are blended seamlessly into the rest of the clothes, shoes and accessories on sale. There are some that really emphasise the ethical angle in their merchandising but actually this can be detrimental to sales as customers view these clothes in an entirely different way to their staple items and brands. This goes back to the idea of distinction and cachet created by clothes and the idea of ethical and Fairtrade unfortunately still conjures up images of hippies, green peace and do-gooders and those who are really into their high street or couture fashion definitely do not want to be lumped in with those.
So perhaps the answer is to quietly build up the world of ethical clothes and fair trade shopping and not shout it from the rooftops. To blend the ethical t shirts in with the bog standard t-shirts and to subtly increase the amount of fairtrade fashion on the high street without making a big song and dance about it. This way, we can happily put the words ethical and fashion together, just behind the scenes and on the label and not in the window, online or in magazines.