Fashion brands are constantly bringing new fashion, new design and new ideas quickly to the market, with a focus on accessibility and affordability. Many consumers appreciate a new look that can be worn for the moment and view clothes as a temporary treasure. So can brands really stay ethical, efficient and affordable at the same time?
We asked Scott Jacobsen, writer and interviewer at Trusted Clothes, for his personal opinion. Trusted clothes is an organization linking people, organizations and brands that are ethical, environmentally friendly and health conscious.
Scott wants to contribute to the ethical and sustainable fashion, and he has parallel concerns for human, women’s, and children’s rights.
ethical and low-cost isn't equivalent
Scott suspects the biggest problem in the fashion industry is the relation between the buyer, seller and manufacturer.
The buyer wants ethical and sustainable products at low cost. To be able to provide low-cost products efficiently the seller needs to produce at low cost and is competing with mainstream fashion products. So the manufacturer often has to compromise and pay low salaries and increase overtime. So apparently not all requirements can be met between sellers, manufacturers and buyers.
If work conditions for producers require ethical standards, then this reduces ’efficiency’. As a consequence many companies choose efficiency above ethics. Where the emphasis is on affordable fast fashion to fulfill consumer needs.
Scott thinks it seems like ethics have lost to efficiency.
But is ‘fast fashion necessities’ a worldview (beliefs and biases) created by the fashion industry to influence consumers to believe a story of what they need? Fortunately different people have different worldviews and people can make totally different decisions. So while some people view clothes as temporary treasure others are more conscious consumers and choose a brand that is social responsible and clothes that last.
inequality = Imbalance
We believe it's possible to change this and be dedicated to both environmental and ethical practices throughout the production processes. It's all about equality and balance. Where there is inequality there is imbalance.
According to Scott Jacobsen the landscape will change over time, and with an emphasis on the international rights of women, children, workers, and indigenous peoples.
Increases in democracy and living standards will enable this transition. Where there is equality and power is invested in people and exercised by them in the developing countries. This will take time and effort.
Scott says that if consumers aren’t conscious about the source of the purchased product, then the workers – in poor labor conditions, without rights, in poverty, with low pay, and deprived of rights – will continue to live in their present conditions.
Who made your clothes?
To become conscious consumers you should always consider “Who made my clothes?”’, Scott says.
And yes, we can all contribute and change the industry to the better. The question however remains how we find out who made our clothes and how we can trust a brand.
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