Let people know
There’s a lot of money to be earned with tags like bio, eco, green, fair, conscious, recycled and the like. The global players in the fashion world recognised this a long time ago. And still the fashion industry comes second only to the oil industry in people’s estimation as the dirtiest industry in the world. What is going wrong? It is, of course, only a fraction of clothing that really is produced in fair and ecologically acceptable conditions. These days, we find organic cotton, for example, in discounter outlets – yet, currently, just 1 % of the world’s cotton production is grown in controlled organic conditions.
The fashion industry has changed massively over the last ten years. In earlier times, there were, perhaps two, at most four, collections a year – one for each current season. Today, retail shops get a raft of new fashion every week. This business model is known as ‘fast fashion’: producers are bringing collections onto the market every few weeks at extremely low prices. Yet, because of the pressures on production, suppliers find themselves working under huge pressure to meet ever shorter deadlines. ‘Quicker and cheaper’ goes hand in hand with low wages and ecologically irresponsible practices in manufacture.
Child labour, wretched working conditions, the use of chemicals that are hazardous to health, contempt for ethical standards, pollution of the groundwater and massive waste of water in regions of the world where it is urgently needed, not to mention tanning processes for leather which not only endanger the health of the thousands of people involved in its manufacture, but also those who subsequently wear it.
These conditions are perplexing and bewildering. But pointing at others and resigning oneself to the situation is not an option. Many smaller labels are already signing up for ecologically and socially fair manufacturing conditions and are working continuously to bring about change in the textile industry. They constitute the counter-movement to fast fashion and can therefore be grouped together under the heading of ‘slow fashion’ or even, also, ‘fair fashion’.
Fair fashion puts economic, ecological and social considerations on the same level – and, indeed, for everyone: for consumers, producers and everyone else who is involved in the manufacturing process. We are ‘fair fashion’. We’re here to stay - and there are lots of us. But up until now we have been too small and too quiet. That’s what has changed now.
By joining forces and taking to the streets on 5th of July 2018, we have got ourselves heard. Showing that together we are bigger, stronger and, above all, louder – and that there are many fair alternatives.
For the strongest voice is always that of the consumer. That is why each time someone decides to buy fair fashion, it lends more weight to the prospect of positive change. And the more people that get involved, the greater the pressure on politicians to finally take a stand, hold fashion and textile companies to account and lay down worldwide environmental and social standards.
Notwithstanding the seriousness of the issue, it means a lot to us that we should not lose our sense of fun and enthusiasm. Because we have already achieved so much.
And there is still a lot to do. Let’s do it. Together.