I’m quite ashamed to admit that even though animal testing for beauty products has been on my radar for a significant period of time now, I had never given a thought to the effect my clothes have on the lives of the people who make them and on the environment until very recently. If, like me, you are completely new to the concepts of fast fashion/ethical fashion/sustainable fashion, this article is for you……
Here are 5 useful resources I’ve come across while trying to expand my limited knowledge on this mammoth issue:
Fashion Revolution @fash_rev
Fashion Revolution believe that people, the environment, creativity and profit should have equal value in the fashion industry and are calling for transformation of current practices through greater transparency and collaboration across the whole garment supply chain. One of the best platforms I’ve come across: there are endless high-quality resources available on their website and their first fanzine ‘Money Fashion Power’ is creative and inspirational- I definitely recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.
“We now have more clothes in our wardrobe than ever before while only wearing a fraction of them and disposing them at a faster pace than any other time in history”
-Money Fashion Power (January 2017)
Their second issue is due out in October with the theme ‘Loved Clothes Last’ 👕
They hosted a successful ‘Fashion Revolution Week’ in April- you might have seen the #whomademyclothes campaign on instagram, aimed at encouraging brands to be more transparent in revealing where and by whom their clothing is manufactured.
The Fashion Transparency Index, produced in collaboration with Ethical Consumer (see below) is an interesting read. Assessment of 40 global fashion brands on policy and commitment, tracking and traceability, audits and remediation, engagement and collaboration, and governance, produced the following results:
Image: Page 7 of report
I was quite surprised by the position of some of the brands: I thought Primark would be lower and I had hoped ASOS would score higher. H&M is an interesting one, which I’ll come back to in a future blog post.
UPDATE: There is a 2017 version of the index, featuring 100 brands, available here.
Ethical Consumer @ethical_consumer_magazine
Ethical Consumer has produced hundreds of ethical product guides, which you can tailor to reflect your own personal ethical preferences, so the outcomes are based on which issues matter the most to you. For example, if you select the product guide for ‘Clothes Shops’ you can view ethical and environmental ratings for 25 high street shops, which can be tailored according to whether the environment, animals, people, politics or sustainability is/are more important to you. If you leave all options with equal weightings, H&M comes out top (but with a score of only 9 out of 25, showing that all high street labels have a long way to go!). You can also search more generally for company profiles (see screenshots below).
Unfortunately some of the tables have been removed as the information is out of date, and to fully understand the ratings you need to review the methodology behind it, which is not possible without subscribing.
Project Just @projectjust
“Informed and empowered consumers have the power to transform the fashion industry to an ethical and sustainable one with each purchase”
-Project Just (About)
Project Just believe that the key to change is making thoughtful choices every day; they are calling on the fashion industry to become more accountable, transparent, and sustainable. I love that they have a user guide to help you get the best from using the platform. When you search for a brand, such as H&M, you get a written summary of the pros and cons (and a brief summary video- well worth watching if you’re tired of reading!), as well as more in-depth information on labour conditions, transparency, the brand’s intentions, etc. I really love this resource, as it’s up to you how deep into the information you want to delve and with no ratings it’s entirely up to you to form your own opinion. The only downside is that once you’ve reached a set viewing limit, you have to subscribe to view any new information, and I haven’t worked out yet how much access the basic free membership allows…..
Labour Behind the Label
Labour Behind the Label campaign for the rights of garment workers worldwide. Their most recent report (April 2017) Follow the Thread: The Need for Supply Chain Transparency in the Garment and Footwear Industry is very detailed, with the key message being that although some brands have begun their transparency journey through pledging to publish supply chain information and additional supplier factory information (including H&M, Levis, Nike, ASOS, New Look and Next), there is still a long way to go before real human rights and environmental changes are seen.
Project StopShop (@project_stopshop)
I found Project StopShop on Instagram . As well as providing a useful list of ethical and sustainable fashion brands, they present survey information on shopping habits in the most creative and unique ways…..
All images below are from @project_stopshop Instagram feed:
As with shopping cruelty-free, it takes a little more effort and research to uncover information on the practices and policies of clothing brands and there is still a massive lack of transparency. However, with resources like the 5 summarised above it is becoming possible to learn more about brands; gaining enough information to raise awareness and make more ethical choices in future.
Thanks for reading, I hope you found my summary of resources useful! As I’ve said before, I’m completely new to fashion, so if you know of any others I should add to my list, please get in touch