You have definitely heard the terms “ethical” and “sustainable” being used more and more in the fashion industry.
But, what do they mean?
And do they mean two different things?
The answer to those questions is difficult.
And that’s what we will try to address in this article.
As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
The same is somewhat true for the terms “ethical” fashion and “sustainable” fashion, as there is not a commonly recognized definition.
Some people use them as synonyms; others keep them well separate.
This article’s focus is, firstly, to better understand what these terms mean and, secondly, to demonstrate that the meaning of ethics and sustainability in fashion is highly influenced by the environments in which they are applied as well as by the different culture and sensibilities of the users of these terms.
In the limited space given by an article, the authors also want to demonstrate that the fashion industry may be sometimes ethical but not sustainable and vice versa.
For example, we would all agree that the fight against world hunger is an ethical cause but it is also undeniable that it may imply a negative impact on the environment.
Similarly, we would all probably agree that the massive impetus towards lifting the vast majority of the developed world population out of poverty that started at the end of the nineteen century was the right thing to do ethically.
However, it brought massive pollution and to the detriment of the environment and the populations of the less developed regions in the world.
The authors of this article belong to different cultures and nations and live in different parts of the world.
Although, they share the starting point that “ethical fashion” and “sustainable fashion” are distinct, their experiences have been and still are different.
Therefore, their analysis and their relevant conclusions may be different.
Mario Di Giulio and Sarah Ochwada
HHD – kreita.com