If you’ve made it here, it’s safe to assume we could be friends. You love fashion. You love wearing things that are beautiful and stylish. But at the same time you’ve begun to consider that your shopping and life has an impact beyond yourself. You don’t want to sacrifice your style just as much as you don’t want others to have to sacrifice for you to be stylish. But this growing ethical fashion space can be confusing and a lot to navigate. Artisan made, sustainable practices, fair trade… what does it all mean? So let’s break it down. Here’s the 7 core tenets of ethical fashion, so you can rock the conversation at your next networking event.
Ethical Fashion = People
First things first, what is ethical fashion? Fashion is the largest labored industry on the planet. One out of six people work in fashion. But sadly, we’ve forgotten that it often takes 32 people to make the simple t-shirt you are wearing right now. These people are often paid $2 per day for long hours with only one day off a week. They barely scrape by to provide food and shelter for their family much less provide an education. So, ethically made brands focus on providing dignified employment in safe working conditions for garment workers at a wage that supports them, their family, and their future.
1 | No Child Labor
No children. Pretty basic. Older minors, often 15 -18 are allowed to work part time hours as long as work doesn’t interfere with school hours and is not an overnight shift.
2 | No Slave Labor
Again, pretty basic, but sadly not uncommon. Each factory worker must be voluntarily employed and paid for their time.
3 | Fair Pay
This can get hard to define and to be honest we are still working on making this better. Legally, each worker must be paid the minimum wage of the country. However, much like here in America, the minimum wage often doesn’t cover a person’s full living expenses. The certification standard on this varies based on which certification it is. Most require a bump up from minimum wage after the employee has at least worked there for a defined period of time, and seeing consistent increase in pay as they continue.
4 | Right to Unionize
It’s easy to forget that there once was a time in the Western world when workers didn’t have a voice to stand up for our rights. There are still places where this is the case. Follow ethical fashion news and you will begin to see that garment workers still struggle to unionize and protect themselves. It often costs them their jobs, and even very little pay is better than nothing. Ethically certified factories allow workers to unionize and work with the union should any issues arise.
5 | Clear Communication from Management
Job expectations, rules and regulations, company changes, even employee evaluations. All things you can count on with an ethically certified factory.
6 | No Discrimination
Just like here, there is to be no discrimination based on gender, race, social status, religion, sexual preference etc.
7 | Safe Work Conditions
This is a big one, especially in massively underdeveloped countries like Bangladesh. This standard ranges from clearly marked (and unlocked) fire exits with a plan in case of emergency, all the way to the actual building itself being up to code, structurally sound, and you know, not going to collapse like Rana Plaza did.
8 | Environmentally Friendly
Since most ethical certifications are heavily focused on protecting people, the details regarding environmental protection are currently not as defined. The level this is reviewed ranges based on the organization so keep that in mind if you are seeking a factory yourself. However most certifications require some level of environmental awareness and plan for reduction where progress must be shown through each check up.
At THR3EFOLD we work to connect brands with ethical factories around the world and hustle to see a day when the entire fashion industry is 100% ethically made. We love bringing together a conscious fashion community to progress further and faster together to make a better future for all of us. If you want to find more brands to shop that make a difference subscribe to our weekly emails or follow us on Instagram. We are always featuring great brand and bloggers spreading the word and doing great work.