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7 Things You Need To Know About Ethical Fashion

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - 15:28

Wear your protest on your sleeve. Shop Ethical. Purchase from the RISE Collection today


1. No matter what you wear – it’s a women’s rights issue!

Whether you mean it to be or not, everything you wear is political. The way we produce and consume fashion is part of an economic system driven by multinational corporations that exploit women. Wearing unethical fashion is a choice to be part of that system. It’s a choice to put money into being a walking billboard for brands that make a mint out of harming women all over the world – including you.

The time has come for we women to shop for a new system; to buy into something that is radically new and radically ethical. Read on to find out how!!

2. Three quarters of garment workers worldwide are women and girls

Around the world, an estimated 60 – 75 million people are employed in the textile, clothing and footwear sectors and three quarters of those workers are women and girls. In countries like Bangladesh, women earn as little as 16 cents an hour, a measly $37 a month. If that wasn’t bad enough, many women garment workers are vulnerable to exploitation and unsafe working conditions that have seen thousands killed in dangerous factories around the world.

Choosing ethical fashion, like The Fabric Social’s new RISE collection, is a decision to stand up and say no to being part of a system that exploits women. But even better, buying ethical fashion is not just about saying no to a system that harms.  It’s about investing your dollars into an alternative system – an ethical system led by women, for women.

3.  “Buy well, choose less, make it last,” or use your dollars for good

Vivienne Westwood, the radical queen of revolutionary fashion once said “buy well, choose less, make it last.” It was such an important message, but it seems too few of us have listened. Australians spend more per capita on fashion than in any other country, with the Australian fashion market raking in a whopping $19 billion in revenue per year.

That’s some serious cash and it’s women who make up to 75% of the purchases. And little wonder: the fashion industry has been one of the strongest players perpetuating the never-ending and manipulative pressure on women to look good at any cost. Fashion has bullied us to into believing we need one skirt for work, another for dinner, another for weekend brunch – and that’s just the basics. No wonder we’re spending so much money! Fashion’s army of photo shopped faces and super skinny models have been selling us this toxic myth for decades!

By choosing ethical brands we can take our enormous purchasing power and use it to invest in women-led brands that speak to our intelligence and our compassion. That’s a change we all need!

4. Women are the power players in ethical fashion

From Stella McCartney, to the niche brands cornering the online ethical market, women are the power players in the world of ethical fashion. These ethical brands are developing a model that doesn’t just benefit those at the top, but empowers women at every level of the production and consumer chain. They are brands that ensure women producers are paid fairly, work in safe and dignified conditions and employ sustainable practices to make their goods. That means slower fashion, fairer fashion and a radical shift in the way we shop.

Choosing women-led ethical businesses means we can support brands like The Fabric Social, which works to lift the burden of poverty from women and their families in insecure geographical areas around the world. It means we can support the growth of a new economic model that caters to a client-base demanding a “buy less, choose well, make it last” philosophy.

5. Choosing women is also a choice for the environment and for fair economies

You might have noticed that when reading about ethical fashion, putting an end to the exploitation of women doesn’t usually dominate the headlines. Right now, climate change and a system of extreme wealth inequality are the number one issues demanding our attention – and so they should be! What tends to get forgotten, is that it’s women who are the most impacted by climate change and it’s women who represent 70% of those living in poverty.

That means when fashion puts women’s rights at the heart of its work, it is also by necessity taking on those systems of environmental and economic exploitation that harm women the most. Women-led ethical brands are almost always the most radical, but most under-rated consumer choice for investing in a new economy that values human rights and the planet. Brands like The Fabric Social take action to help women producers in Myanmar claim economic justice, by cutting out exploitative middle men and empowering them to produce beautiful clothes using locally sourced, sustainable materials. Now that’s the kind of political statement our clothes should be making!

6. Women-led ethical fashion is also helping out with the issues you haven’t heard about!

Women carry the heaviest burden in emergencies like famine, conflict and natural disasters. Despite that, women’s voices are too often forgotten or ignored in the humanitarian and emergency work addressing those crises. Women-led ethical fashion is part of change to move away from a model that sees women only as victims and move towards a model that empowers women to lead their communities to change.

Women-led ethical fashion is all about enabling women to claim economic justice, no matter who they are, or what they are going through. The Fabric Social’s RISE collection is a collaboration with MBoutik, a Myanmar women’s social enterprise working in Myanmar’s DryZone, where climate change is creating chronic indebtedness and food insecurity. MBoutik’s women rise above these challenges by banding together under their Craft Producer Association to develop gorgeous traditional craft and fashion products. Together they’ve created a supply chain that not only delivers economically just results, but also gives the women producers a safe environment, sense of self-worth and an opportunity to connect with other women.

That’s more than just fluff and feel-good shopping; it’s an opportunity for women facing injustice to claim their rights.

7. Be a rebel with a cause and wear your resistance

Women around the world are using ethical fashion to rebel against a system that exploits us and to create a new system that women have designed! Women are connecting across borders to set their own agendas and to make and market their own clothes. The Fabric Social’s new RISE collection is leading that movement with a model that is women-led, economically just and environmentally sustainable. Shop ethical - wear your rebellious heart on your sleeve and make a statement the world can see!


Purchase an item from the RISE Collection today


This innovative business partnership, coordinated by ActionAid Australia through funding from DFAT’s new Business Partnerships Platform, is supporting these women to realise their economic independence and full human rights.