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Ethical Fashion vs Sustainable Fashion

What is Ethical Fashion?

Ethical fashion with respect to apparel from a designer or retailers perspective are the steps undertaken to make their fashion apparel adhere to good (or ethical) business practices.

The term is so subjective that I look at it as a spectrum on a wide scale with a multitude of dimensions such as workplace safety, salary, hiring practices, and safety for the environment and others Each dimension may encompass so many aspects as well including textiles, sourcing, shipping, packaging, and many other aspects.

What is Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable fashion with respect to apparel from a designer or retailers perspective are the steps and processes undertaken to ensure that their products are environmentally friendly, and socially and financially sound.

It takes into account systems thinking and looks at the whole cycle of fashion apparel from where and how the materials are produced to the way it is ultimately disposed of.

The term is such a broad term like ethical that it should be looked at on a spectrum as well.

What is the Difference Between Ethical Fashion and Sustainable Fashion?

When you look at the definitions, it would appear that they really encompass a lot of the same things, but, ethical fashion seems to begin from a social justice angle and sustainable fashion appears to begin from an environmental angle.

Many people use it interchangeably along with eco-friendly fashion. Although, with the term eco-friendly, I would say it’s possible to produce eco-friendly apparel that was not ethical.

For example, someone produces a 100% cotton shirt from a local farm, using a local worker, but, the worker was forced without pay. Probably not ethical, but, the shirt may be eco-friendly.

On the other hand, when I hear that the shirt was ethically produced or sustainably produced, I expect that the worker was not exploited or paid fairly, which in itself is so subjective.

In this blog, I’ll be using ethical fashion and sustainable fashion interchangeably, but, with the point of view that ethical begins with a more social justice point of view and sustainable fashion begins with a more environmental point of view.

Eco-friendly for me is only looking at the end product.

Slow Fashion

Another term that should be included with a topic about sustainable fashion or ethical fashion is slow fashion.

Slow fashion is the opposite of fast fashion. Fast fashion are the marketing processes that businesses try to push on consumers to keep us buying more quantity and more frequently.

Slow fashion is a movement. It is about slowing down this repetitive and frequent buying process by making clothes that last, from a trend point of view and from a physical quality point of view.

It is a movement that encompasses sustainable fashion as it tries to incorporate awareness and best practices into the resources and processes in developing apparel so that they are less harmful to the earth.

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