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Ethical Fashion was invented by an ad agency in 2005, to beg the question "WHAT IS ETHICAL FASHION?" and answer it how they want.


Ethical Fashion was invented by an ad agency in 2005, to beg the question WHAT IS ETHICAL FASHION? and answer it how they want. If you are really keen to check things like dictionary definitions, read-on, because it's an odd term, a bit like "world music" that slightly existed as a jargon term before ad agencies and UK government got hold of it.

There is a list of ethics in Wikipedia here. They look academic because people don't usually label them or talk about them; they're an every-day thing. It's hard to think of something that isn't "ethical". That's the first meaning that you read in dictionaries.

This is a page of notes about the dictionary meanings of "ethical", linked from another page about Futerra Communications' Ethical Fashion Forum who seem to have traded on this new phrase. A lot of people write their ideas under a title "What is Ethical Fashion?" to define ethical clothing without a page to say "Why use a phrase that begs a question?".

To complicate things, people do say "ethical" and "not ethical" as shorthand for "ethically good" or "ethically bad". The word was lying around, meaning nothing. Nobody could use it for much else. People also say "ethical" in the sense of "ethically controversial or interesting". That's how the Victoria & Albert Museum web site defines "ethical fashion" and the definition is picked-up by Google: an "umbrella term to describe ethical fashion design, production, retail, and purchasing. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare".

Government democracy and human rights are not named, maybe because the museum is a public-funded organisation and doesn't want to look political. If you follow the money, that's their motive. Fair trade gets a mention - setting standards in third world countries for specially labelled products that include a fair trade premium to pay for things like a well or free medical appointments for workers. Welfare states, which have got a bit further down this route, do not get a mention. Governments, which can do the most harm or good, do not get a mention. The V&A web site site began defining ethical fashion with an exhibition of a fashion from a government initiative a few years ago, paid-for by the Department for International Development among others and managed by the British Council with help in the UK from the British Fashion Council.

Government can pass laws so that all workers compete for work with the same national costs for social insurance to cover things like healthcare and basic pensions. Governments can use taxes to expand the system so that everybody gets the benefits and the system is cheaper to run than private insurance. This is called a welfare state. It is fragile and expensive and neglected by governments that go triumphalising-about the world with phrases like "ethical foreign policy", a newly separate Department for International Development (Dfid) and the trade association it set-up and subsidises, the "Ethical Trading Initiative", who wrote this:

"'Ethical trade' means different things to different people. In particular, some people refer to 'ethical trade' as an umbrella term for all types of business practices that promote more socially and / or environmentally responsible trade. Others use the term in a much narrower sense, referring specifically to the labour practices in a company's supply chain.

For ETI and throughout this website, we use the term 'Ethical trade' in the narrower sense. For us, Ethical trade - or Ethical sourcing – means the assumption of responsibility by a company for the labour and human rights practices within its supply chain"

This trade association is a good thing with a bad name that reflects the smug politics of the time. It discourages use of the word "ethical" for all members and tries to raise a very low "base code" where it can. At the same time it has narrowed-down any use of the word to what it's members can do, and it is a trade association of members that can pay £2,000 a year or more in subscriptions. It is not an organisation that says "boycott Apartheid" or "buy British to support a welfare state". You can imagine it saying "buy products from a bad country to help it develop - never mind if it doesn't develop or that this is unfair on producers at home". Dictionaries quote this box-ticking compliance-certifying kind of behaviour as a long established use of the word "ethical" by people who out-source their ethics to head office or the ministry. The usual example is nurses.

That's the second meaning of "ethical" that you read dictionaries.

Irritating people say "ethical" in the sense of "compliant", particularly if compliant with a code written by someone of higher social status such as a government minister with an "ethical foreign policy". The example given by every dictionary is nurses - maybe at Stafford Hospital - who think that if a doctor prescribes a drug it's"ethical" and if not, then it is clearly "not ethical". That sense of "not ethical" is probably unique to nurses, but is implied a bit by everyone who contracts-out ethical choices to the authorities. Some people who use "ethical" in this way are zealous employees of companies that have a corporate social responsibilty page in the staff handbook; they could say "Leaman Brothers is an ethical company", because the company has an ethical code. Some people simply nod-along to smugness. The Co-operative Group PR department put paid "partner content" into PR Week magazine under the name of Rev. Paul Flowers that ticks so many ethical-sounding boxes that it runs-out of them and invents one more: "thought leader", begging the question "What is a thought leader?" There was a thing called an "Ethical Fashion Show" for World Co-Operative Day 2005 too, which looks like something from Ethical Fashion Forum. To managers at the Co-Op (which isn't a co-op) it was probably one more smug thing to nod-along to. They probably wondered why there was no European-made fashion on show such as that made by the Co-Op's own uniforms division, but didn't want to upset their careers by making a fuss, and discovering that ethical fashion shows were promoted with funding from the Welsh Assembly by one organisation and Department for International Development and the British council for another

Ethical Fashion Forum's founder probably organised the fashion show. She defined the term as part of "ethical trade" in her dissertation, finished in autumn 2004. The section is quoted complete at the bottom of this page.

Chapter 3.7 fair trade V ethical trade

"Ethical trade" is no longer a generic term.

As with "fair trade" it has become associated with a specific set of criteria and standards. The use of the term ethical trade in this specific way is very recent; Welford was the first one to use this term, and this was as recently as 1995.[here] The rise of ethical trade as a concept can be linked to the Corporate Social Responsibility movement which gained support from the mid 90's onwards. It can be argued that this was triggered by the reactive policies of mainly larger companies, in response to media coverage of sweatshop conditions in their supply chains. This started with codes of conduct and over the last decade has grown in importance, particularly for larger companies, many of which have CSR or ethical Departments and invariably have a web page or publication dedicated to the ethical approach of their company." - Tamsin Lejeune, Can Fashion be Fair?, dissertation 2004

internet searches for the term Ethical Fashion starting in autumn 2005, the same time that Ethical Fashion Forum was promoted by several public sector agencies in the UKIn Autumn 2005 the Ethical Fashion search term was launched onto the world, according to Google Trends, particularly in London and alongside searches for "Ethical Fashion Forum" and "ethical fashion show". You can check for yourself if you click on the graph and enter the term in the google trends search box. That was the time when government-backed fashion shows in London and Paris promoted the forum with the full force of subsidised public relations.

"London Fashion Week and the British Council have played a big part in the ethical fashion sector and I admire them for sticking their neck out as the first fashion week to devote a section to ethical fashion – it’s given the industry a big boost in the world’s media." - Elizabeth Laskar of Ethical Fashion Forum, interview published on the V&A web site, October 2010 [Laskar never had any long-term role in the industry; she was just picked as a pretend ethical fashion example by Futerra]

"Sticking their neck out" is another thing, but she uses "ethical fashion" in this new sense; she thinks of it as a new thing.

"we began brainstorming and decided to collaborate on the UK’s first ethical fashion show as part of the international women’s festival." - Elizabeth Laskar as "on of the UK Ethical Fashion pioneers" about Tamsin Lejeune in PR piece on the Urban Times web site, 2012

Ethical Fashion Forum are often quoted as an expert umbrella group for all kinds of ethics, but the truth is that they started by promoting vaguely preferable fashion from third world countries, and have accepted large paying members on the strength of a corporate social responsibility statement. Their early membership and list of favourite examples quotes fairtrade and third world producers to the exclusion of goods made in welfare states, and a page on their web site cautions against buying British goods on ethical grounds. The full text of their founder's definition of "ethical fashion" is quoted at the bottom of this page.

I can't think of any more to write about the two meanings of "ethical", so here are some dictionary definitions.


Chambers 21st Century Dictionary:
ethic noun the moral system or set of principles particular to a certain person, community or group, etc.
ethical adjective
1 relating to or concerning morals, justice or duty.
2 morally right.
3 said of a medicine or drug: not advertised to the general public, and available only on prescription.
ethicality noun. ethically adverb.
ETYMOLOGY: 15c: from Greek ethikos moral, from ethos custom or character.

Oxford Dictionary : online version

ethical adjective
Relating to moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with these: eg "ethical issues in nursing" "ethical standards"

Morally good or correct: eg "can a profitable business ever be ethical?"

Avoiding activities or organisations that do harm to people or the environment:
eg "an expert on ethical investment" "switching to more ethical products" "adopt ethical shopping habits" "ethical holidays"

2 [attributive] (Of a medicine) legally available only on a doctors prescription and usually not advertised to the general public: 'all types of drugs, including ethical drugs and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals'

Cambridge Dictionary:

ethical adjective
1 relating to beliefs about what is morally right and wrong:
eg ethical and legal issues the ethical dilemmas surrounding genetic research

2 morally right:
eg "ethical practice/trading"
eg a medical procedure which most people believe to be ethical

see ethically

Collins Dictionary: puts the naff meaning first:

ethical adjective

1 in accordance with principles of conduct that are considered correct, especially those of a given profession or group
2 of or relating to ethics
3 (of a medicinal agent) available legally only with a doctor's prescription or consent
This is their Cobuild page which tries to measure usage and use that towards definitions

Macmillan Dictionary:

ethical adjective

1 involving the principles used for deciding what is right and what is wrong
eg "ethical issues/standards/objections"

2 morally right
eg "ethical foreign policy/investment/behaviour"
eg "Is it really ethical to keep animals in zoos?"

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English

ethical [no comparative]
1 relating to principles of what is right and wrong [= moral]
ethical issues / questions / problems
eg The use of animals in scientific tests raises difficult ethical questions.
eg The president must have the highest ethical standards.

2 morally good or correct [not unethical]:
eg "I don't think it's ethical for you to accept a job you know you can't do."
eg "ethical investment policies" ( = investing only in businesses that are considered morally acceptable)
& unethical
morally unacceptable:
eg "unethical medical practices"

Mirriam Webster dictionary in the USA:

ethical adjective

  • involving questions of right and wrong behavior : relating to ethics
  • following accepted rules of behavior : morally right and good

Full Definition of ETHICAL

1: of or relating to ethics - eg "ethical theories"
2: involving or expressing moral approval or disapproval - eg "ethical judgments"
3: conforming to accepted standards of conduct - eg "ethical behavior"
4: of a drug : restricted to sale only on a doctor's prescription

American Heritage dictionary in the USA

ethical adjective
1. Of, relating to, or dealing with ethics: eg "an ethical treatise."
2. Being in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the conduct of a profession: eg "an ethical act." See Synonyms at moral.
3. Relating to or being a drug dispensed solely on the prescription of a physician.


Looking at references from the first paragraph below - "ethical trade is no longer a generic term" - I notice that it's been academic jargon for a decade or so before Ethical Fashion Forum got hold of my taxpayer money to try to put me out of business. The Dfid link came-up for some reason.


source (1) quote from someone who set-up Ethical Fashion Forum - most of this will be edited-out when the page is ready. All of this is hers not Veganline's and quoted as much to disagree with as to agree with. Maybe someone else can work-out what this person is saying better than I can. Text is from optical character recognition.

3.7 fair trade V ethical trade

"Ethical trade" is no longer a generic term.

As with "fair trade" it has become associated with a specific set of criteria and standards. The use of the term ethical trade in this specific way is very recent; Welford was the first one to use this term, and this was as recently as 1995.[here] The rise of ethical trade as a concept can be linked to the Corporate Social Responsibility movement which gained support from the mid 90's onwards. It can be argued that this was triggered by the reactive policies of mainly larger companies, in response to media coverage of sweatshop conditions in their supply chains. This started with codes of conduct and over the last decade has grown in importance, particularly for larger companies, many of which have CSR or ethical Departments and invariably have a web page or publication dedicated to the ethical approach of their company.

The UK Ethical Trading initiative (ETI) , set up in 1998, has provided a model for ethical trade.

"'Ethical trade' means different things to different people. In particular, some people refer to 'ethical trade' as an umbrella term for all types of business practices that promote more socially and / or environmentally responsible trade. Others use the term in a much narrower sense, referring specifically to the labour practices in a company's supply chain.

Blowfield, M (1999) p2 [end of p40]

For ETI and throughout this website, we use the term 'Ethical trade' in the narrower sense. For us, Ethical trade - or Ethical sourcing – means the assumption of responsibility by a company for the labour and human rights practices within its supply chain"

-Ethical Trade Organisation web site quoted 2004

The ETI has a high-profile membership and as the largest and most influential Ethical Trade organisation, has been very influential with regards to general understanding of the meaning of "ethical trade".

There is a growing debate about the relative merits of ethical and fair trade in the fashion industry and in trading relations as a whole. The fairtrade foundation defines this difference as follows;

"Ethical trading means companies are involved in a process of trying to ensure that the basic labour rights of the employees of their third world suppliers are respected. The FAIRTRADE Mark, which applies to products rather than companies, aims to give disadvantages small producers more control over their own lives. It addresses the injustice of low prices by guaranteeing that producers receive fair terms of trade and fair prices - however unfair the conventional market is." [84]

"The view held by particularly the more established organisations engaged in fair trade fashion [85] is that ethical trade is a good thing; however it has also been used as a PR exercise by large companies. Ethical trade is also viewed as being undermined by reports of sweatshop working conditions in the supply chains of companies which are members of the ETI. For some fair trade organisations, there is evidence that "Ethical Trade" is starting to be viewed as a threat,


https://www.ethicaltrade.org/Z/efhfrd/aboufef/index.shiml#what is

http://www. Fairtrade.org.uk/about_faq.htm#Ethical*

interview, S Minney, 08/04


The Dhaka Declaration, which was "put together in March 2001 by six fair trade producer groups and organisations supporting producer groups making fairly traded garments and handicrafts" illustrates this perceived threat. The declaration has been written to underline the "huge difference between fair trade fashion and ethical fashion". The Declaration was put together largely in response to the growing portfolio of products labelled with the fairtrade mark by the FLO (Fairtrade Labelling Organisation) and emphasises that fair trade is about creating livelihoods in rural areas, providing an alternative to urban migration, and promoting appropriate technology. The FLO now has two types of fairtrade labelling systems:
1. Small producer organisations
2. Hired labour
The hired labour standards have opened the way to fair trade factory production.

"There are two sets of generic producer standards, one for small farmers and one for workers on plantations and in factories. The first set applies to smallholders organised in cooperatives or other organisations with a democratic, participative structure. The second set applies to organised workers, whose employers pay decent wages, guarantee the right to join trade unions and provide good housing where relevant. On plantations and in factories, minimum health and safety as well as environmental standards must be complied with, and no child or forced labour may occur."

The introduction of fairtrade labels by the FLO for sports balls was a new departure, as these are made of a number of different components


[end-note 86] 'Dhaka Declaration, 18th March 2001, The Difference between fair trade Fashion and Ethical Fashion"'

http://www. Fairtrade.net/sites/standards/general.html


including plastic, and further broadened the potential range of goods which could be considered fair trade.

The FLO has been investigating the possibility to introduce a fairtrade label for textiles and clothing, potentially factory produced. The Dhaka Declaration highlights the opposition to this venture, and goes some way to explain why there has been little movement on the development of a fairtrade fashion or textiles label.

fair trade organisations and producers such as PeopleTree, Aarong, and Artisan Hut, all signatories of the Dhaka Declaration, clearly see the potential for large companies to source big quantities in factories, and label it fair trade, as a serious threat to the fair trade status of their goods. For them, Ethical Trade (which includes factories) and fair trade (largely rural production) should remain clearly separate entities, of which fair trade provides a "gold standard".

The growth of fairtrade labelled products and the way these are produced has been a point of contention for some time:

"Another difference in 'ideological' approach is exemplified by the concerns both Max Havelaar and transFair have with the Fairtrade Foundation of the U.K. They are uneasy about the U.i\‘. approach -which could best be summarised as starting at the "best practices of trans-national business and entering into a dialogue with them to move the goal posts and gradually strengthen the standards. Several Fairtrade Foundation representatives have said they believe the only way to really change the terms of world trade was to have an

\" Dhaka Declaration, 18th March 2001+,

The Difference between fair trade Fashion and Ethical Fashion Impact on the "big boys", rather than by just helping a few small farmers.".


There are three issues which must be considered in the debate over restricting fair trade labelling to small scale, rural production:

1. The total market share taken by fair trade coffee is still less than 1.5% and the share for fair trade goods overall is almost certainly less than this, which fair trade fashion making up a tiny proportion of the fashion market. Therefore unless the market expands, if is difficult to see fair trade having any real impact on the fashion industry and the widespread social and environmental problems associated with this.

2. Capacity Building and empowerment of producers in the south is a key component of fair trade criteria. The most pioneering fair trade companies have structured their organisations such that producers have a stake in the profits of sales of the final product. By restricting the growth of fair trade to rural production and disallowing factories, this limits WE capacity for fair trade to compete in a global market.

3. When does a factory become a factory? Many rural fair trade producers already work in large units in warehouses under a single roof. If a factory means the use of machinery then disallowing this also limits the capacity of fair trade producers.

It can also be questioned just how beneficial it is for the industry as whole to labour the distinction between fair and ethical trade.


Thomson, B (1995)1+2


A very low proportion of fashion consumers understand the meaning of fair trade fashion, let alone the difference between fair trade and ethical fashion. These two separate systems are confusing for consumers who in the main part are just looking for peace of mind about the products they buy.

By labelling companies as dealing in either "ethical" or "fair trade" this limits the capacity of both. For example large companies which are members of the ETI can make an enormous impact by sourcing some of their production from fair trade producers. Likewise fairtrade companies/ organisations will be much better equipped to compete in the mainstream if their production capacity is built up, and they are well placed to instigate ventures such as co-operative factories in which workers gain a stake in profits.

It is understandable that fair trade organisations and producer groups should move to protect their market share through documents such as the Dhaka Declaration. However it is also possible that this protectionism could be detrimental for the market as a whole. The experience of the juste. case study and the Ethical Fashion Forum suggest that the opportunities for growth within the fair trade market in the near future outweigh the capacity for growth in fairtrade supplies. Evidence suggests that building the capacity of the fair trade supply system is vital and will be of benefit to both existing fair trade organisations, the industry as a whole, and the growth in demand for fair trade goods.

Environmental issues further muddy the waters. "Ethical Trade" makes no specific reference to the environment, yet for many companies involved sustainability is high on the agenda, Environmental issues are referred to in fair trade; but do not constitute its key criteria. In some cases environmental concerns cannot be separated from social concerns, such as the handling of pesticides by cotton growers and dangerous chemicals and dyes by garment workers. Must we then have an Eco Trade category, as well as an Ethical and fair trade category of Companies?

-----problem: the person writing this doesn't mention infinite numbers of possible ethics looks as though she wants to squidge the lot into one "ethical" label yet to be invented -----------

3.8 Ethical and fair trade clothing: Case Studies

(NB the word ethical used here is meant in the broad sense of the word; ie socially and environmentally responsible)

Given the difficulty in separating fair trade from environmental and other ethical concerns this section deals with clothing companies which have incorporated ethical sourcing and production as a key part of their working structures, including fair trade, organic and recycled textiles.

The first fair trade clothing available in the UK was sourced and distributed by Oxfam and Traidcraft. Both of these organisations were started from social premises, clothes were initially sold with a view to benefiting the producers and there was very little input in design and marketing. The resulting collections of clothes reflected the alternative tastes of those working for Traidcraft and Oxfam, guesswork on behalf of producers as to what northern consumers would want to wear, and a small alternative consumer market.

A number of other companies, focusing on the social aspects of fair trade clothing rather than consumers and branding were launched in the 70's and 80's, including Bishopston Trading and Chandni Ehowk. It was not until the 1990's that companies started to emerge which took a more consumer and design orientated approach to fair trade and "ethical" clothing.

[page 43]

Environmental concerns rather than social concerns were the first issues to be addressed by fashion designers/ businesses, possibly in response to the green movement which gathered pace in the 80's. Sarah Ratty was one of the first [sic] UK fashion designers to make ethics a key component of her collections. She launched Conscious Earthwear in the early 90's which pioneered in the use of ecologically sound textiles in the fashion mainstream. Conscious Earthwear was stocked in Selfridges and Harvey Nichols in London, as well as in Tokyo and Los Angeles. She has now launched a new range under the name of Ciel.

Howies, an organic t-shirt and casual wear brand, followed shortly afterwards in 1995. Howies turned "green" fashion on its head by creating cool clothes, and show casing them on an award winning website which embodies the brand. Gossypium was set up in 1998, selling yoga and casual wear made of organic and fair trade cotton. However, People Tree, originating in Japan, was the first company to focus on fair trade fashion (rather than clothing) in the UK, launching in 2001. People Tree began with largely social aims and grew from an NGO set up by Safia Minney in Japan in 1995. As such, People Tree collections have been as "more worthy than wearable".

Of course, there are some companies that already deal in fair trade clothing, such as the mail-order label People Tree, which operates on a small scale with its suppliers to maintain traditional skills, give fair wages, then satisfy a particular market. But the end result tends to have a very "eco-friendly" look - more worthy than wearable. Hopefully, in a few years' lime, our fashion pages will feature a Fairtrade label That merits the appearance on its designs alone. But, as far as we're [sic] aware, at the moment there's nothing.

The fact that PeopleTree followed in the footsteps of Traidcraft by distributing by mail order initially, also limited its visibility on the High St. However, PeopleTree is working very hard to shrug off negative publicity with a more design orientated range and in August 2001 launched a collection to be stocked at Selfridges in London and across the UK, the first fair trade and organic range to be stocked there.

People Trees' mission statement includes the aim ;"To set an example to the wider general public, to business and to government, of fair trade as a form of business which is based on mutual respect between producer, trader and consumer. To develop a business That proves that fair trade is successful." With its recent Selfridges launch PeopleTree appears to be fulfilling this aim. However, the company has not yet managed to create a recognised and respected brand for itself, in the way that, for example, Howies has. Gaining this is as much about the packaging and the company ethos as the design of the clothes themselves.

Outside the UK, there are two companies which stand out when it comes to fair trade fashion retail at the high end of the market. These are the Dutch Kuyichi jeans (www.kuychijeans.com) and Eternal Creation (www.eternalcreation.com), which was founded by an Australian designer. Both of these labels are widely stocked in mainstream boutiques and stores where they retail alongside designer clothing at the high end of the


Porter, Charlie 17/05/2003 Looking good, being good

PeopleTree Mission Statement, first quoted 2004, now on http://www.peopletree.co.uk/about-us/mission


market. Both labels source from producers working to fair trade criteria.

1. Kuyichi Jeans www.kuyichi.com

The idea for Kuyichi jeans came about at a meeting between farmers and representatives of the Dutch organisation Solidaridad 19 (The Dutch equivalent of Oxfam) in Mexico in 1998. The wives and daughters of coffee farmers in the local fair trade coffee co-operative were often forced to travel long distances to other parts of Mexico in order to earn money in garment factories. It was decided to consider exporting blue jeans to Europe which were made under fair trade conditions and from organic cotton. A fair trade production base was established and in order to widen the manufacturing base, co-operation was established with two workers co-operatives in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Having little experience in the marketing of garments, Solidaridad sought advice in the private sector. It was established That a brand name was of crucial importance in the jeans industry, where consumers are willing to pay a considerable bonus for a trendy brand. It was decided to position the jeans in the trendy, fashionable upper end of the market, with the brand name Kuyichi.

Kuyichi was launched in 2000, has expanded quickly, and is now sold in Holland, Italy, Scandinavia, and, since 2001, in Manchester in the UK. The product range includes denim, separates and knitwear for both men and women. Kuyichi products sell at the high end of the market, with a pair of jeans costing £90-100. Market research suggests that the brand is successful and continues to grow. The Kuyichi brand turns consumer pre-conceptions of "ethical", organic and fair trade fashion on their head. The company has a state of the art website, a clear design philosophy, and uses evocative images to create a


Kuik (2003)


brand which a clear target market aspires To. instead of becoming an 'alternative product', Kuyichi has actively pursued a strategy of beating the existing market at its own game, and has successfully taken fair trade,organic fashion into the main stream.

Kuyichi pays cotton producers and garment sector/s prices above current mar/ref prices. The mark up varies between 30% and 80%. The co-operatives in Peru (cotton) , Mexico and Basil (garment factories) have become co-owners of the Kuyichi company (Rooten & Van dear Hoff, 2007), If is the intention to establish long-standing trade contracts with other garment factories in Asia and Africa. In 2003, a start was made with factories in India, Tunisia, and turkey. """...Kuyichi has been highly influential in the fashion industry in Holland. As a result of Kuyichi we have been approached by other clothing brands wanting to source in a similar way"’

Eternal Creation www.eternalcreation.com

Conceived in 1999 by Australian designer Frances Carrington, Eternal Creation is committed to improving the living conditions and prospects for Tibetans in exile, while promoting international awareness of the situation. Combining natural fibres, hand printed fabrics, and traditional tailoring techniques, Frances designs classical fashion with a contemporary edge. Attention to detail and sophisticated juxtaposition of colour and texture characterise pieces in her collection. Eternal Creation works with a Tibetan ex-political prisoners organisation called Gu-(bu-Sum in Dharamsala, North /India. 70% of the cost price of all products are donated fa Gu-Chu-Sum, and training and employment.


Kuik (2003)

Bram Verkerke, Solidaridad, telephone interview, 17/09/04


are provided in the tailoring and screen printing workshops at their headquarters, Lung- Ta House"

External Creation collections are now stocked in over 50 mainstream outlets in Australia, as well as in India, Japan and the USA. The UK distributor, Squared Cycle, was set up in 2002 to specialise in fair trade and ethical goods, and started to distribute Eternal Creations collections in 2003. The buyer take up of the goods in the UK has been very successful . The key difference between Eternal Creations and other companies of this type in the fashion sector is that it was set up by a designer with an understanding of the market, fashion design skills, and a knowledge of product placement and distribution within the market. The Eternal Creation brand, like many successful high end fashion labels, stems from the design ethos and approach of the designer, which creates a coherent product,marketing strategy, and range. Frances Carrington maintains direct links and communication with producers by living and working in India, in the production workshop. She manages distribution through regular trips abroad and through working with local distributors such as Squared Cycle."Competing on price is not a problem. Other companies spend more money on PR and fancy offices, and have higher profit margins" . Although this way of working is clearly successful on the current scale of operations, opportunities for expansion are limited (perhaps intentionally) to India if Frances is to maintain a direct relationship with producers. This setup makes it difficult to concentrate on both marketing and production in the way that Kuyichi has. The set up is also very dependent upon one person. The critical link of a talented designer with knowledge of the

Allanna McAspurn, interview, Squared Cycle, (Eternal Creations) April 2001+” The market will need to be maintained if the business is to be sustainable in the long term.

Emerging companies

The last few years since 2000 have seen the number of fashion companies and designers striving to incorporate ethics in their designs multiply. For the first time, a younger generation of emerging designers and entrepreneurs have started to take these issues seriously and bring their skills in design, and understanding of branding and the current fashion market to their business ventures. The Ethical Fashion Forum initiative, instigated as part of this study has brought together some of these companies and for the first time allowed them to network and communicate. (See section A5 for more details) The creation of this platform has provided the means to establish the size of the movement and bring together companies which have until now worked in very isolated fashion across the country, often pioneering in specific techniques, such as organic textiles, recycling, and natural dyes. More than 25 companies and designers are now involved with the forum, about 20 of which have emerged since 2000.

This figure does not include the other fashion industry players, such as Fashion PR representatives, owners of boutiques, representatives of fashion colleges, southern fairtrade producer groups, NGOs, consultants, and fashion students which have also become involved with the forum and with networking events. It is clear that "ethical fashion" is becoming a movement with the capacity to influence, raise awareness and ultimately tackle some of the problems associated with the global fashion industry. The extent to which this is possible will depend upon this movement being recognised, gaining support, and taking an influential role in the fashion industry as a whole. [note: no mention of people making things in democratic welfare states here at all.]

See appendix for list and details of companies/ designers involved with the forum

[page 46]

Because of the relative newness of this movement, most of the companies involved are small, still becoming established, and have a limited street presence. As a result there is still little change in consumer perception of ethical fashion; which surveys suggest is still considered to be alternative, unfashionable, and unavailable. However, as emerging businesses become established in the next few years we are likely to experience changes which are similar to the organic food movement; with increased availability encouraging increased consumer awareness, and subsequently increased demand for fair and ethical clothes.

International Designers

The world of fashion has traditionally been lead by a small number of prestigious "International Designers" including the likes of Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Gucci, Donna Karan etc. These designer labels participate in catwalk shows twice a year at Fashion weeks in New York, London, Paris, and Milan. These fashion empires generally sustain their sales of luxury items with massive advertising campaigns and perfume sales. Although they may not constitute a large share of the international market compared to companies such as Gap, their influence over the fashion world is enormous. These international Designers are responsible for setting trends and defining the aspirations of the mass market for fashion.

Clearly, successful international designers taking ethics seriously in their fashion collections could have a widespread potential influence on the industry as a whole.

Short of an aversion by Stella McCartney for fur, however, very few of these designers have become involved with ethical concerns. There has been less media exposure of these companies linking them to sweatshops, and it is true that until recently many of these companies have retained much of their production in Europe (or the US) to achieve complex designs and very high quality of finish. However many of these companies now source in the south and Gucci has been the target of a recent Labour Behind the Label campaign as a result of sweatshop conditions in its supply chains. In addition to this, textile production is increasingly carried out in the south with extensive environmental if not also social concerns associated with its production.

Katherine Hamnett has been an ardent campaigner, through her fashion designs, on issues as diverse as nuclear weapons, to Aids, to the Environment since the 1980's. However she points to supply and logistics barriers as having prevented her from launching an "ethical" clothing collection as yet. She plans to launch an organic cotton range (Katherine Hamnett) in Spring 2005, and as such will be the first [sic] international designer to do so.

The Brazilian designer, Carlos Miele, has pursued social aims alongside his label (frequently seen on the catwalks of the fashion capitals) since the 1990's. In 1999 Carlos Miele entered into partnership with Eoopa-Roca, (the Rocinha Artisans Cooperative) which was started with the aim of creating jobs for women in the community without taking them away from their family lives. Since then, Miele has developed continuous work with the co-operative by systemising product lines and working with traditional techniques that the members were especially skilled at, such as knots, fuxico (small rosettes), crochet and fru fru.
The designer has also developed partnerships with other co-operatives in under privileged areas of Brazil to source specific techniques such as lace,crochet, and feathers.
Through partnerships with co-operatives, Miele has taken Brazilian handicrafts to the international catwalks since 2001. Although this appears to have done little to influence the work of other international designers, it is likely to have influenced the fashion industry in Brazil, and raised awareness of the value of traditional crafts produced by co-operatives. It also demonstrates a successful model of what can be achieved through partnership, to increase the capacity to market of traditional crafts.

The Big Boys: Corporate clothing companies

The Ethical Trading initiative (see section 2.9 for more details) includes ten clothing companies, including Debenhams, Gap, Levi's, Marks and Spencer,Monsoon, Mothercare, New Look, Next, The Pentland Group, and Quantum Clothing. Although primarily involved with codes of conduct, The ETI has encouraged companies To look at Their sourcing strategies and recently,Gap, Marks and Spencer, and Levi's have all started to incorporate a small proportion of organic cotton in their clothing collections.

It is interesting to note that these companies have all chosen to blend organic with conventional cotton and to avoid a separate organic line. In addition, none of these companies have publicised the fact that they are incorporating organic cotton in their collections.interviews with representatives of PAN UK and Marks and Spencer have revealed that as the percentage of organic textiles currently incorporated in collections is low (5% or less) there is reluctance to advertise this for fear of getting negative publicity about the remaining 95%. In addition,companies feel that by bringing out a specific organic or fair trade line this would reflect badly on their other products.

Even 5% of the products of large companies such as these represents a very substantial increase in the market for organic cotton and should been encouraged. This move also represents a clear commitment on the part of large companies to address these issues; the lack of publicity means that it cannot be seen as a PR exercise.

There is very little evidence of large fashion companies considering fairtrade sourcing, even for a small part of their products.

"one commentator during research reported that fair trade was not even on the map for some ETI companies because the ETI's base code already involves significant changes to operations, and further work would not be considered a this stage. This was reinforced during interviews with other organisations"

/" interview with Katie Stafford, Marks and Spencer, March 2001+‘°‘ B1 Humphrey (2000) p12

Southern producers of fair trade garments & textiles

Some of the first southern fair trade producer groups and co-operatives were initiated and built upon by NGO's such as Oxfam as a sideline to other development projects in the 1970's and 80's. Others have emerged as smaller groups have got together to form larger co~operatives, as initiatives of southern NGO's , and as ventures by social entrepreneurs in the south.

Some of the most established and business orientated networks of fairtrade producer groups for crafts and textiles can be found in India and Bangladesh, largely thanks to widespread traditional skills in these, relatively good infrastructure, and experience with international trade in comparison to other parts of the developing world. Producer groups of fair trade garments and textiles elsewhere in the world, eg Africa, South America, Thailand and Cambodia) tend to be smaller anymore isolated, with less advanced networks and less capacity for international trade. IFAT (the International fair trade Organisation) has provided a means for producer organisations to be listed as fair trade and gain access to buyers in the North. However there is limited

The internet has made an enormous difference for the capacity of fairtrade and organic textile / garment producer groups to communicate with designers, businesses, and buyers in the north. Nevertheless , gaining access to fair trade sources for textiles and clothing is still difficult for companies in the north. Experience with juste

Labelling and standards

The FLO (Fairtrade Labelling Organisation) has not yet developed a label for textiles and clothing (See section 3.7 for further details)

As such fair trade fashion companies have generally relied upon their own brand or association with IFAT as a way of guaranteeing the criteria they work to, which are then included in a code of conduct and mission statement.

Some companies dealing with organic cotton are able to use Soil Association and other eco-labels.

It is possible that the Ethical Fashion Forum will be able to allow members to use its logo to demonstrate involvement with the organisation in similar way that IFAT has a fair trade standards label for members.

PAN UK have considered supporting a labelling system which includes a gold standard for fair trade. However the logistics involved with the monitoring of this alongside the confusion which may be caused to consumers through multiple labelling may make this a difficult proposal to implement.

3.9 Branding ethical and fair trade fashion [p49]

(NB the word ethical used here is meant in the broad sense of the word; ie socially and environmentally responsible) B

"brands are hugely influential- and they're worth millions. They don't just sell a product or a service any more: they sell a set of values, philosophy, a meaning for life"

"if you want to change the world, do it through brands. And if you want to help your brand, then help change the world"

"”‘°Z Bunting, M, O9/07/Oi,The New Gods The Guardian‘°’ Hilton, S, 22/01+/02, The Guardian, The Logo Motive”...

"brands rather than governments can do more lo change entrenched social attitudes; the nanny state no longer has the authority or credibility but brands can draw on the trust they inspire to get through to people."

"‘ . i”As an intangible asset, a successful brand can be worth much more than an organisations physical assets. /n 2002, /Interbrand, a global branding consultancy, estimated Coca Cola's brand value at almost $70 billion US, well above the value of (Coca Cola’s physical assets/""5For many years, organisations selling fair trade clothes engaged in very little marketing, let alone brand building. For some companies, spending money on marketing was seen as taking money away from producers in the South. There was also in some cases an aversion to the concept of contributing to a branded, materialistic culture.S ome companies distributing fair trade goods are reluctant to make changes to original goods in a bid to uphold local traditions; which jars with attempts to adapt products to suit a target market or in line with a brand philosophy.The result has been that ethical fashion has been branded anyway; however this brand is a negative one for most consumers, translating,variously, as "unfashionable" "low quality" "hippy" "greenie" and "frumpy""°“Kuyichi has shown how powerful a coherent strategy to product, image, and market can be for sales; without being detrimental to the values of the company. Recent adverts for Oxfam clothing in Vogue demonstrate that Oxfam appreciates the importance of marketing and the development of a brand

.“‘°‘ Bunting, M, 09/07/01,The New Gods The Guardian"5 Armour, D, Aug 2001+,
Branding your non-profit

Market research surveys for juste; see appendix 1+9

Oxfam is now working on a proposal for a chain of coffee shops (Progress) to rival Starbucks; one of the biggest and most successful brands around. If Ethical and fair trade fashion hopes to compete successfully in the mainstream, the importance of a strong brand cannot be ignored. A strong brand in conjunction with partnerships and co-ownership is one way to ensure that maximum product value is passed on to producers in the south.

3.10 Ethics and Fashion Education

The interest of fashion students and fashion colleges in the issues of ethics in sourcing have increased since issues of sustainability [sic] have been put on the higher education agenda. However there is evidence that teaching on both the social and the environmental problems associated with the industry is still very limited. Student interest in the Ethical Fashion Forum has been expensive and feedback from both students and tutors has suggested that in many cases these issues are addressed from the bottom up; ie students have taken the initiative first to explore these issues in their collections. Almost all of the established companies and organisations involved with the forum, have been inundated with requests for information by students. In some cases feedback has suggested that within certain fashion schools, considering ethics in designs is actively discouraged as being detrimental to innovation.

‘°° Central ST Marlins, acknowledged as a leader whose students invariably grab the headlines, is one of these schools. As a result all the students interested in these issues, who have got involved with the EFF

,studied or are studying at The_ London College of Fashion where sustainability is on the syllabus, rather than at Central St Martins.

“" Vogue 2001+‘°° Ethics in fashion Education meeting, 28/06/Oh (see appendix)‘°" IBID

Students, as the next generation of fashion industry players, have an enormous potential impact on the workings of the industry. The fashion system means that even graduate collections from colleges such as Central St Martins can influence the direction taken by the industry as a whole. Fashion, with its orientation to youth and glamour, is always on the lookout for the latest, new and funky designers to take inspiration from.It is therefore vital that the global garment industry supply system, and its social and environmental impacts, are seriously addressed in fashion education institutions. It is also important that taking ethics into account in student collections is encouraged, rather than discouraged. This challenge is one which fashion designers will always face and if the best student designers are unable to be innovative in this sector, then they are poorly equipped to be future leaders for the industry.

3.11 The case for fair and ethical trade in fashion

(NB the word ethical used here is meant in the broad sense of the word; ie socially and environmentally responsible)
It has been established that there are widespread social and environmental problems associated with the global garment industry. At the same time there is clear evidence that a movement towards more responsible sourcing strategies is gaining strength in the UK. New, emerging fashion businesses and designers are incorporating ethics in their mission statements. Pioneers are beginning to lead the way with innovative products and designs in the fields of fair trade, organic, natural dyes, and recycling.

[page 50]

fair trade

The impact of fair trade projects has been typically difficult to quantify. For many years, evaluation of the affects for fair trade producers was pretty limited; it was taken for granted that fair trade was beneficial and first hand accounts from producers certainly supported this. Fair trade organisations, with their direct links with producers, were well placed to see the benefits of their work first hand. However the need for fair trade organisations to become more accountable for the work they do lead to[?] aspire of reports on the impact of fair trade projects. An evaluation of existing studies and first hand accounts of the impact of fair trade projects in the craft sector has revealed very positive outcomes. First hand accounts and interviews with producers reveal the benefits this fair trade approach can bring them. Fair trade has brought stability,increased capacity to market, opened up opportunities for producers, made education and training possible, and increased access To basic necessities including education and health.The biggest criticism of fair trade has been related to the tiny proportion of the market if holds and its still limited visibility on the conventional market, particularly in the case of crafts.However, The experience with fair trade Teas and coffees and with organic foods has shown that a rapid growth in market sector is possible. A second criticism of fair trade, in the case of crafts, has been evidence that in some cases the capacity of the artisans to market has not been increased, and dependency on a small fair trade niche has resulted. However, partnership models such as Divine Chocolate/ Kuapa Kokoo (Ghana)and Kuyichi jeans/ workers co-operatives in South America, have shown that it is possible to structure far trade such that it can have a significant impact on the capacity of producers. In the case of Kuapa Kokooin Ghana, the strong co-operative structure and business ethic which has been created has placed the organisation well to pursue expansive trade relations and fair trade makes up only a small proportion of sales. The stability brought by a fair trade relationship Through Twin Trading create a strong platform from which to base further trading relationships, as well as strengthening community capacity through premiums spent on improving health and education facilities and infrastructure. It is is important to note that fair trade can create the kind of relationship in which it is possible for producers to come up with ideas as to how to increase sales/ solve local problems and for these to be followed through. In the case of Kuyichi jeans, a fair trade relationship in the production and sale of coffee lead to a situation were it was possible for producers to suggest that fair trade sales be extended to clothing and for this to re-carried through in the shape of Kuyichi jeans. The two way relationship between producers and fair trade organisation allowed existing problems and skills to be taken account of. The viability of the garment factory was recognised by local people, local women were capable to do this kind of work; and the need for women to travel long distances to work in garment factories in the cities was a real problem for family life and the communities a whole. A local Kuyichi jeans production unit positively addressed both problems and strengths in the community.

Influencing the industry.

The clothing, and more importantly, the fashion industry is very different to the commodities markets (Tea, coffee, foodstuffs) in which fair trade has started to make headway. The design, branding, and marketing of a fashion item is much more key to its success than is the case for tea and coffee. In addition, brands such as Nike and Gap show that the successful marketing of a fashion brand can bring enormous commercial gains and market power. The fashion industry has traditionally been lead by an "elite" designer sector, which sets trends and inspires the mass market to create high street "copies" of designer clothes. This gives designer brands a huge amount of influence over the industry as a whole.

[page 51]

The evocative imagery and glamour associated with catwalk shows, and with fashion in general, has an extensive and popular appeal with the wider public. This opens the way for positive publicity and to raise awareness on a wide scale with the general public, beyond the traditional market sector for fair trade and ethical clothing. Unlike the commodities market, the emphasis on design and the public interest in designers makes it possible for new designers and fashion labels to grab the limelight in the popular media through cutting edge and innovative design. Therefore there are opportunities for new fashion labels to bring this limelight to an ethical approach and become very quickly prominent in the public eye. Branding in the fashion industry can potentially bring high profit margins which stem from consumer perceptions of product value, based on brand image rather than the product itself. Profits can be as high as 60% or more. In a fair trade context this can translate to higher returns for producers and producer communities and for fair trade premiums to be easily accommodated within the business model.

Fair trade and the big boys

It has been acknowledged that "fair trade fashion" currently holds a tiny proportion of the market. The real strength of fair trade lies in its potential to grow, gain influence, and become a recognised model for businesses in the fashion sector. However, it has also been established that the fashion industry is dominated by a small number of large brands. Mass production in southern factories is though to constitute 80% of the UK market. It is within mass production systems, rather than within the designer fashion sector, that the environmental and social impact of the industry is greatest. Real change in the fashion industry can only come about if environmental and social concerns are addressed by the big boys.


Extensive environmental impact of the global garment industry through the use of pesticides on cotton and widespread use of harmful chemicals is outlined in section

2.7. Organic textiles represent a way of reducing environmental impacts, improving conditions for workers, and reducing high capital outlays for chemicals. Larger companies have proven that it is possible to incorporate initially a small percentage of organic textiles in collections with a view to increasing this gradually to give the supply systems a chance to develop. Even a small percentage of organic textile use can make an important impact on the environmental consequences of production due to the enormous quantities dealt with by the major fashion players.

Organic fashion in the designers sector Increasing awareness of the environmental issues related to garment production through the role of "fashion" in development in section

2.1, the comparative advantage held by developing countries in the arena of clothing and textiles are outlined. This advantage stems not just from relative labour costs but also from extensive skills bases. For many countries in the south revenue from garment production already makes up a significant portion of GDP. Increasing the value added component to garment production in the south, through fair trade and partnerships which allow producers to share in high profit margins, could potentially have widespread advantages on both a local and a national level.On an international level, the impact of unfair tariff and quota systems cannot be ignored. The potential benefits of and revenue from trade in textiles and clothing for countries in the south could be greatly increased through addressing global tariff barriers.

[page 52]

The human costs of unfair trade are immense. /f Africa, East Asia,South/7 Asia, and Latin America were to increase their share of world exports/"is by one percent, the resulting gains in income could lift 728 million people out of poverty"""

In the long term, the current system supporting the global garment industry is neither efficient nor sustainable. Low prices, high profits, and large wardrobes in the north are subsidised by social and environmental costs in the South. In this context the need for a more responsible approach by fashion companies is clear. The question is whether the fair and ethical trade movement in fashion can be built up to become a positive influential force for the industry as a whole.

\"° Oxfam (2002) p5A. juste. : A case study

The process of researching and setting up juste., a fair trade fashion label, has run in parallel with and been an integral part of this study. Setting up the label has both influenced and been influenced by the research process.

L.1 Aims of the label

The aim of setting up juste. was to create a successful designer fair trade clothing brand at the high end of the market. As a case study it provides a valuable insight into the real barriers which face a designer fashion business in setting up to meet a main-stream market and managing the production process to fair trade criteria. The label was conceived from the premise that the extensive skills base in textile production and decoration provides a unique selling point for well designed garments made by fair trade groups based in the South, at the high end of the market in the UK. The target market for the label is young women aged 25-40. The label aims to produce high quality, designer collections, in order to build up a reputation, change perceptions about "ethical fashion", and increase profit margins in order to allow for fairtrade premiums and profit return for producers. An important goal of the label is to influence the wider fashion industry by example, and to raise awareness about the social and environmental implications of garment production, in a positive way.


Sourcing fair trade garments and textiles.

Extensive research was carried out to find out more about fair trade organisations producing garments and textiles. Initial links were made via IFAT (international fair trade Association). The IFAT website includes a list of its members and in response to my inquiry sent a list of producers around the world dealing in textiles and garments. It is only very recently,since 2000, that producers in the developing world have started to have internet links on the IFAT website. In 1999 the non profit organisation People Link developed the CatGen (Catalogue Generator) e-commerce platform. This has facilitated internet access for fair trade producer groups, which can then gain exposure through membership with IFAT and links on the IFAT website. This system was put in place by IFAT in around 2002 and is still in the construction phase. The potential to access fair trade products online is therefore very new and when sources were initially being researched for juste. , was in the pilot phase. Although this system was in the very early stages, it made an enormous difference from the perspective of a UK fashion company looking to source fair trade products. It was possible to view, if limited, images of the organisations and their products and communicate by email. in fact it would not have been possible to set the process in motion prior to internet links and email communication. Right from the start internet communication has made the exchange of images possible and facilitated communication. Nevertheless, the process of finding producers to work with was complex and time consuming. The list of producers provided by IFAT included crafts people producing furnishing textiles and other products not relevant to the search. Many of the organisations did not respond to queries and / or were not set up to deal with queries. Reasons for this may be that many of the organisations are small and have limited experience of working with international buyers, particularly in fashion; inexperience with internet enquiries, lack of resources, and inefficiency. Having personnel in a management role with experience and confidence in international business emerged as a key factor governing whether the fair trade groups could take on orders and requests for feedback or samples. Few of the producer groups were able to provide price lists or comprehensive product images. All of these factors made initial research and sourcing difficult. It was not until producers were met in person, at the IFAT conference held in Newcastle in June 2003, that it was possible to see details of products

[page 53]

and to discuss production and pricing. Even so if was only the representatives which already had links and experience in the UK who maintained contact after the conference. It was not until initial samples were made up and images sent to the producer group that strong links were made and an understanding reached as to the potential benefits of a presence at the high end of the fashion market. It was clear early on in the sourcing process that there is no wholesale distribution of fair trade Textiles in the UK. In London Indian and Bangladeshi Textiles and embroidery are available within minority communities in East and West London; however fabric outlets target almost exclusively minority communities. Thus embroidered pieces are designed in sari length and fabrics can rarely be bought by the metre. Extensive research revealed no companies which sought to source or produce fabrics to fair trade or specific ethical criteria. Availability of fair trade fabrics in the UK would greatly facilitate fair trade sourcing, particularly for small scale designer businesses producing clothes in the UK and larger businesses looking to incorporate fair trade fabrics in their collections. There is clearly a demand for these materials by designers on the basis of quality and uniqueness alone, irrespective of ethical issues.

Advertisers have to say less than pressure groups or risk a fine or a court case.
This is a list of things risky for an advertiser to do, according to a 2008 guide from Futerra Communications, which calls them ethics-wash or green-wash. Exceptions are marked "LEGAL", so for example the Ethical Fashion Forum's claim that one fashion job in Europe costs 30 in Vietnam looks like an unsubstantiated claim and an attempt to deceive, both illegal in Australia, France, Norway, the USA, and the UK.

Australia France Norway USA UK
 Mislead consumers          
 Deceive consumers          
 Use unsubstantiated claims          
 Use images capable of making a sweeping claim     LEGAL LEGAL  
 Be vague   LEGAL      
 Be technically or narrowly correct, without looking at the bigger picture       LEGAL  
 Present claims as universally accepted, if the science is disputed or inconclusive LEGAL        LEGAL
 Imply qualities that are not the case   LEGAL LEGAL LEGAL LEGAL
 Overstate claims, expressly or by implication   LEGAL   LEGAL LEGAL
 Indicate benefits unlikely to happen in practice, but literally true         LEGAL
 Use exaggerated language LEGAL       LEGAL
 Make claims that cannot be verified LEGAL     LEGAL LEGAL
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