ETHICAL FASHION TODAY
Bring ethical-fashion movers and shakers together and the conversation is bound to get interesting. That was the case with the Estethica Press Day on Dec. 8, an event that included a panel of thought leaders such as journalists Jessica Brinton and Lucy Siegle, designers Christopher Raeburn and Orsola de Castro, the Centre for Sustainable Fashion’s Dilys Williams, and Claire Hamer from the consulting firm Ei8ht.
The dialog that ensued during the panel was heated and passionate—how could it not be?
Questions ran the gamut, from the basic (“why is ethical fashion so expensive?”) to the controversial (“how can you be ethical if you transport your designs around the world?”) to those that focused on the bigger picture (“how do you make ethical fashion go beyond the ethics?”)
The dialogue that ensued was heated and passionate—how could it not be? But although a good portion of the audience expected ethical fashion to contain all the answers and to deliver on every level immediately, it was heartening to see so many people—the biggest crowd yet at an Estethica Press Day—hanging on every word.
As for those who expect change to happen instantly, de Castro said it best. “Fashion is a much more complicated industry to change than food,” she pointed out. “From agriculture to communications, there is a lot to do. We carry a lot more responsibility. If you eat a fair-trade banana, you are not really speaking that loudly. But when you are wearing a recognizable ethical brand, you are. So when you are wearing a Christopher Raeburn jacket or a Junky Styling coat, you know what that means. So it has a political responsibility to speak louder, so perhaps that means there is more caution.”
In fact, she added, there are times we need to give nitpicking a rest and concentrate on what the ethical industry is accomplishing. “Otherwise we create in a culture of apathy,” she said.