This month we celebrate World Fair Trade Day, a campaign spearheaded by People Tree, a fair trade fashion label. But are People Tree making the move to a fair trade culture more difficult by charging nearly £100 for their dresses? If you're on a low income is fair trade fashion ever possible for you?
There are three main complaints people have about ethical fashion: people don't know where to buy it; they think it's ugly; or it's too expensive.
There are plenty of ethical fashion directories to help with the first issue, from The Guardian to Ms Wanda's Wardrobe. And with more ethical fashion appearing in magazines and on the High Street this problem will eventually phase itself out.
The issue of it being ugly, is quite frankly ridiculous, as People Tree and slow fashion consultant, Veronica Crespi of Rewardrobe point out in this short video.
The issue of affordability is more difficult.
To pay garment workers more then it is inevitably going to put up the price of clothing. Although this is the reality of what something costs, many complain it is still too much. People need cheap clothing.
Or are they confusing need with want? And actually are they working to a false economy? Cheap clothing will need to be replaced more regularly so what are the savings long term?
In addition, when you look at the availability of good quality second hand clothing the affordability argument doesn't really wash.
Despite this, trying to get people to change their behaviour and spend more to do so is tricky. We have entered a culture where people feel they deserve cheap clothing. The expense at which that comes is irrelevant.
How do we turn people back from the cheap clothes culture?
One solution could be to make clothes swapping and thrifting more attractive, which many are already doing. The other is to make fair trade fashion so damn good that people can't possible say no. And People Tree may be well on their way to doing that!
Follow Esther Freeman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@mswandas