08.06.17 by Aneeqah Samsodien
Ever thought about ethical fashion? Were you ever in a big retail chain store and wondered how they manage to keep their stock levels up in this fast paced world that we live in? Ever thought about who is making the clothes you are wearing? Ever wondered how much energy and natural resources go into making them? If shopping was more of a conscious and educated decision, many businesses would be closing their doors.
We at Chclt create communities that work well together and benefit mutually. We encourage each other to grow in both an inspirational and sustainable way. The Studio thus aspires to help people by educating the public about environmental issues that have global effects.
This series focuses on the fashion industry, fast fashion in particular and how it’s affecting the world at large, and what ethical fashion means.
‘The world recognises that the fashion industry is indeed one of the top most wasteful and that it treats it’s employees unfairly and unethically.’
Ethical fashion, in a sense, means exactly that. It means that thought went into the entire manufacturing process, from sourcing fabrics, through production and to the shop floor.
We can duly note that the emerging issue of practising business ethically is because of the rise of ‘fast fashion’. Trends are constantly changing, people want to keep up with these trends and don’t think twice about spending minimum cash on a sweater that is only meant to last one season. The truth is that the fast fashion industry employs grossly underpaid and exhausted workers. In most cases, they are expected to produce massive quantities over short periods. Hence, this post serves to inform and enlighten you on the bigger picture. Not to say that all big retail chains are trading unethically; in fact, H&M has introduced a Conscious Collection, focusing on sourcing their fabrics in a more sustainable manner.
One of the best ways to support ethical trading is to spread the word. There is no one place to direct you to a list of companies that trade ethically as not all are listed on the Fair Trade website. Companies also won’t change their ways until you as a consumer, uses your buying power to say otherwise and voice your opinion on how they are trading and question their values.
Andrew Morgan, director of the documentary film The True Cost, had this to say about fast and ethical fashion:
“Fast fashion is a term that parallels ‘fast food’ and implies that it probably is not very good for us. Fast fashion was initiated when brands began to copy design looks from runway shows. They put them through production and manufacturing at lightning speeds in order to have them in stores within weeks, and sometimes days, after they were seen on the runways… Clothing has now become a commodity that we see as disposable”.
It has been a great time in South Africa over recent years, where local fashion businesses are thriving. There are many reasons that we can list to explain why purchasing locally produced goods are worth it. You are supporting a small business to grow. Most designers source their fabrics from local suppliers and focus on the quality of the textiles being more sustainable. Manufacturing locally means that locals are being employed to create the clothes you wear. Lastly, the clothes you buy will actually last longer, so you’re getting more bang for your buck, and the list goes on.
Becoming a conscious consumer can be tricky in the beginning. Once you are aware of the impact of the practise of certain businesses, it becomes a lifestyle and you realise that you have the power to change it.
Our case study follows the story of Sealand Gear, a local South African brand that manufactures in Cape Town. The company creates unique bags and accessories, using upcycled fabrics that are derived from old boat sails and advertising billboard mesh. Their culture and product shows heaps of what the company stands for and is therefore greatly supported for this.
Our next post in this series will focus on Fair Trade and what it means in the fashion industry.
All images supplied by @Sealandgear #discovernewpaths