If you’ve been checking my brand now and my social media, you’ve probably heard the term “ethical fashion” several times. You may also have heard the terms slow fashion, fair trade fashion, and sustainable fashion as well. So, what exactly do all of those terms mean?
Though similar in principle, each one is unique. However, all are an alternative to another phrase you might have heard—fast fashion.
Fast fashion is just what it sounds like. Rather than sticking to the historical model of a few seasons per year where it took months (sometimes years) for items to go from design to reality and from the catwalk to a local department store, the fashion industry now expedites the process to get more clothing in the hands of consumers faster. It results in nearly 52 fashion “seasons” per year, with new items coming in all the time.
In order to meet such high demand, something must be sacrificed. Unfortunately, that sacrifice is often related to the quality of the garment, its effect on the environment, and the human lives involved in the production process.
Countless fast fashion retailers take advantage of cheap labor overseas, manufacturing their garments in sweatshops with little to no regard for the working conditions of the laborers and the negative impacts of chemicals and other elements have on those workers and the environment.
Ethical, slow, sustainable, and fair trade fashion are all reactions against the fast fashion industry, and all of them are part of the Delphine Gennisson brand.
Fair Trade fashion is perhaps the most narrow of the terms. It focuses specifically on the working conditions of the laborers and in order for an item of clothing to be considered Fair Trade, it must be certified by Fair Trade USA. For my brand personally, I am able to say that my manufacturers are members of the Fair Trade Federation and the Fair Trade Forum of India.
Sustainable fashion also called eco fashion, focuses more on the environmental impact of the clothing. It focuses on how different fibers and production methods negatively impact the environment, and seeks to create a circular system which lessens the human impact on the environment through the consumption of clothing. That’s where I take action too. By reusing end-roll fabrics, I am proposing a circular system, and reusing waste to make a beautiful finished product.
Ethical fashion is more or less a combination of both Fair Trade and sustainable fashion. It focuses on both the social and environmental impact of fashion, seeking to improve the working conditions of laborers, along with the environmental impact of the clothing production process.
Slow fashion is the direct opposite of fast fashion, focusing on creating garments with quality and longevity in mind. Though slow fashion is not by default sustainable, ethical, or Fair Trade, many slow fashion brands create with these principals in mind. By creating garments with quality and longevity in mind, it reduces the strain on workers, as they aren’t pressured to meet the insane deadlines and demands perpetuated by the fast fashion industry, and it reduces the strain on the environment, as the higher quality items last longer, which means they don’t need to be replaced as frequently as items of a lower quality.
*Note – This article was originally published on Simplify by Sarah.