The notion of ethical fashion has been gaining more and more ground recently, particularly since the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh last year. Yet Primark hit the news again yesterday with claims that a cry for help was stitched into the label of a £10 dress. The dressmaker claimed they were forced to work exhausting hours to keep up with our demand for cheap fashion...
When it comes to the core concept of launching, nurturing and mentoring new brands, that's when the new concept really reveals its new, winning formula. With the tag 'Fashion For A Sustainable Future', it is clear the mission for the new 'Estethica: Emerging Talents' is to forge a new and stronger generation of sustainable forces.
Every time a tragic accident like Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, where over 1,000 workers died in the garment factory, happens, our hearts sank. It sank because it could, and should, have been prevented. However, in the current clima with shrinking wages and stratospheric rent and energy bills, Can we afford ethical fashion?
After the Rana Plaza disaster last April, consumers could see first hand how their appetite for cheap clothes fuels exploitative working conditions amongst the poorest people on Earth. 2013 became the year that the industry were forced to reevaluate the efficacy of their corporate social responsibility policies.
There are hundreds of fashion projects on both of the major crowdfund platforms that are leveraging online financial support from friends, family and total strangers. Included in the mix are a small but significant number of social entrepreneurs who are using crowdfunding as a way to marry up fashion creativity with sustainable and ethical projects.
So workers are suffering because of low wages and dangerous working conditions, consumers are suffering thanks to poor quality clothing that doesn't last and the environment is suffering due to the overproduction of clothes and a complete lack of regard for sustainability. The clothes may be cheap but we are all paying for them one way or another.
When news broke last week that yet another disaster had befallen a garment factory in Bangladesh, I was angered and upset, but not very surprised. It had been a matter of months since the Tazreen factory fire had claimed 112 workers' lives, and it was inevitable that tragedy would strike again before long. I sat at my laptop, scrolling through Twitter, as more details unfolded. Incidentally, I was wearing a Primark dress.
Some have suggested a consumer boycott of Bangladeshi garments at these retailers, but a boycott could be counter-productive because doing so could jeopardise the job security of the garment workers. The best course of action is to put consumer pressure on Primark. We can't shift our society's addiction to cheap fashion overnight, but we can insist that as the buyers, Primark must put pressure on their supply chain to adhere to the basic tenets of a safe working environment.
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?