Ethical Fashion Watch: One Garment At A Time

Ayesha Siddequa is the sustainable and ethical fashion director at IFDC. With a strong background in the ethics of living for a better planet, Ayesha champions initiatives that will bring a better life for today’s generations and those to follow. To contact Ayesha, please email her at  Ayesha.Siddequa@IFDCouncil.org

Our grandparents were part of the ‘make do & mend’ generation, where waste was unforgivable and everything was reused, darned or re-purposed. The grim reality of war meant that rationing was a necessity, and even after the war when food and clothing were readily available, the lesson had been learnt. For them, it was important to make us of everything you had, be it the precious pieces of discarded wrapping paper that were neatly folded and put away for the next family birthday, or a good pair of socks that simply needed a little darning.

  These days, we are living in a disposable society where we have lost the skills needed to mend. If our clothes are torn or tired, we have no ability to repair them. Things are so accessible, so cheap, so replaceable that no-one gives a second thought to the consequences of our actions.

  Our grandmothers would make their own clothes, crafting dresses from torn parachutes or faded curtains. They made a use for everything. Nowadays we are greedily devouring everything we have, material objects have lost their value. Everything can be replaced. We forget that the earth is irreplaceable and that our consumerism is killing our planet.

  This destruction of our natural environment is actually known as ecocide. It is a crime, a very serious crime and we are all guilty of participating in it. By indulging in ecocide we are stealing from future generations, we are damaging our ecosystems, we are causing a huge amount of environmental destruction.

As well as our actions destroying the planet, they have a negative impact on people too. Everything that we consume has to be made. People are working in dire conditions, young children lose limbs and their lives in dangerous factories, those who manufacture our clothes are rarely paid fair wages. Ironically, it is the human desire for consumption that is creating these appalling conditions for other human beings. We need to make a change. We need to take responsibility. We need to commit to sustainable choices.

There is hope for the future

  Lately, more and more luxury brands are realising the importance of sustainable fashion, giving us more choice and variety in our purchases. The fashion industry employs a vast amount of people, it has an immense effect on the economy. The fashion industry has power and if we as customers start making more ethical choices and opting for sustainable fashion solutions, then we could help to influence the state of the fashion industry. It is an important and influential industry. It is powerful and could help to significantly change the future of humanity.

  Organisations such as The Sustainable Angle are committed to making changes in the way we spend our money. They run events including the Future Fabrics Expo and the Future Fabrics Virtual Expo, showcasing the latest sustainable fabric choices and offering ethical options and sustainable resources to the fashion industry.  The Sustainable Angle have recognised that brands need to start communicating the story behind their label. Consumers are blindly buying into things that they do not fully understand. By learning about

manufacturing processes and uncovering the history of a brand, customers will start to make more ethically responsible choices.

  This summer an eye-opening documentary came out that reveals some shocking truths about the fashion industry. ‘The True Cost’ was released near to the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapsing. The Rana Plaza factory disaster shook the whole world and made many people reconsider their fashion choices. People are starting to realise the impact their consumption has on the rest of the world and industries are starting to respond to this shift in consciousness.

  In the past, some companies would loosely use words like ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ as a clever marketing ploy. Nowadays, consumers want more than these words. They want facts, they want the full story, they are informed, educated and passionate. They want change.

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