The ‘Green Movement’ seems like ‘THE’ term in the fashion industry that has being doing the rounds off-late…!
With the Green initiative hitting fashion weeks all over the world, and in fact, even the Oscars this year, one obviously starts to wonder, what is ethical fashion all about!?
Can fashion really even be ethical? Isn’t the basis of the entire fashion industry all about vanity and consumerism? The ready-to-wear, fast fashion industry… if we just broadly look at it… is entirely based on one simple principle… ‘people buy – fashion changes – people throw the previous and buy the new’ It’s based on wastage and the human need for having ‘more’! Its basis is kinda ‘unethical’ so then what ethical fashion are we talking about?! Is it just a fad…? …coz ‘going green’ is the new big thing… hence, is it just something that the entire fashion industry is kinda latching onto?
While on one hand, there’s a lot of criticism and scoffing at ‘ethical fashion’ as a term, on the other hand, there’s also a lot of love, belief and passion that we see amidst supporters of Ethical Fashion.
So to understand their POV, let’s first understand what ethical fashion really is all about?!
The Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF) defines ‘Ethical Fashion’ as “an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment.”
So it involves things like:
· Increasing the capacity and well-being of the people and communities behind fashion.
· Minimizing the environmental impact of all business operations, throughout the supply chain.
· Quality products or services that meet market needs and demands and are fairly marketed.
So if all this is the basis required for being known as an ‘Ethical’ fashion brand… and if being a part of the ‘green’ movement requires one to do all this… I don’t understand what the critics have a problem with?!
Even if they feel that the Green fashion movement is just about following a fad… even if they feel that fashion brands are trying to go ‘ethical’ just to look and sound ‘good’… So what?! I personally think it’s great! Even if in just ‘trying’ to portray a ‘good’ face, they actually end up doing something good… it’s one step closer to change, right?! So why not appreciate it…!! After all, something is better than nothing, right?!
And…the word ‘Ethical’, which means ‘Morally right’ or ‘Morally Acceptable’ itself is quite subjective! What is morally right for you… may not be for me and visa versa. Hence, according to me, Ethical fashion shouldn’t just be about eco-friendly… or fair wages… or sustainability… it should ideally be about all or any of these! It should be about what is morally right according to the particular brand or the designer and about supporting the cause that they believe in.
A few days ago.. I attended this fair in Bombay at the Vintage Garden, Bandra, ‘Yogisattva’s Organic Courtyard and Beyond’. There I met these amazing young designers and entrepreneurs… all trying to make a difference in the world, with their unique perspective on ‘ethical fashion’ and ‘organic’… each burning with passion for what they do… each so strongly believing in the cause they’d taken up!
Someone trying to revive Indian handlooms, someone trying to popularize African tribal arts in India, someone trying to provide old women with alternate means of livelihood, and someone who was creating eco-friendly paints and colours using locally grown plants!
Looking at them… I couldn’t help but think… ‘this can’t be pretentious… and it certainly isn’t just a fad! These guys are driven by the idea of creating something that is truly wonderful… Something that they believe, is morally right!’
And THAT, according to me, is what ethical fashion is all about!!
Here’s a glimpse of a few of these amazing brands that were present here at this fair, who I personally interacted with..
These guys strive to find undiscovered craftsmen amidst the tribals in Africa and places in India… and only sell pieces which have a unique story to tell. Every piece they sell, has a story about the culture, the place and the person who’s created those…
Their cause… is to share stories of unknown, undiscovered craftsmen and get people to know more about cultures of different places…
In order to provide livelihood to elderly or physically disabled, single woman headed families… people at Avani have revived traditional skills of natural dying, hand spinning and weaving. They’re comitted not just towards fair wages, but also environment and sustainability which is quite evident in their natural dyes and range of non-toxic paints and crayons.
Personally, I loved their stuff more coz of the meaning behind it… Just makes you feel like you’re a part of something larger!
Driven by the passion for reviving Ikkat handlooms… an age old Indian art-form, and thereby trying to save and encourage all those poor weavers and craftsmen who’s work is now (or at least was until designers like these took up the cause) on the brink of extinction!
There were several others who were present there at the fair with amazing stories, causes and lovely designs… (Myaara, Kalki, Naushad Ali, Proyog, and many more…) but these were my three personal favorite picks for ethical fashion! 🙂