What does ‘Ethical’ even mean?
You cant help but notice that people are making an extra effort to find out where the products they buy are coming from and how they’re made. With the rise of what a friend described as, ‘socially conscious consumption,’ there has been an even greater growth in the range of ethically labelled products available. As if the consumer goods market wasn’t fragmented enough? Now we must navigate around often misguided buzz words that brands are using to cater to this growing trend.
‘Eco friendly’ fashion labels, sustainable fashion, carbon neutral, green, eco luxe, slow fashion, are the tip of the ethical terminology iceberg.
The devastation caused from the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh first brought to my attention the extent of the exploitation of people - in the name of fashion - throughout developing countries. This prompted many in the West to research into what they buy, and whether all of those involved in the supply chain are being treated fairly.
As I make small changes in the way I invest in things, I’d like to share a 2 point classification that I’ve found helpful in making more informed purchase decisions. This evaluates how a brand engages with its suppliers (pre consumption) and how it makes a positive footprint post sale.
- Pre consumption - Are the employees at the factory receiving the right to a living wage, with fair conditions, working less than 48 hours per week?
The Clean Clothes Campaign is pioneering this as they educate us as consumers and lobby companies and governments. It’s making that extra effort to ensure suppliers are fully compliant with local and international laws governing welfare and product safety. i61 only uses products that come from companies that believe/practice positive pre consumption.
- Positive footprint - Look at the action a brand is taking to serve community needs.
i61’s Dignity Project supports education initiatives in developing countries + the Love Has No Borders Campaign helps the homeless at home (UK) and abroad. Ambitious plans for a small fashion start up (‘Yeah, we know.’), but having these solid foundations from the get go makes a real difference in how planning and strategy.
Should a brand hit both of my loose ethical conditions? It’s certainly something I want to invest in. Seeing as 15 million people are employed in the garment industry across Asia alone, even small changes build to make an impact.
Written by Jon Simmons, Digital Consultant
Follow him on Twitter @jonssimmonssw6