A review essay on ethical production and ethical consumer
“Submitted by Shagun Sawhney, in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of M.A. in Fashion Marketing”
SUBMITTED TO: PRIYA MARY MATHEW
(Department of Business and Technology)
10 OCTOBER 2012
Table of Contents
S.No. | Topic | Page no. |
1. | Introduction | 1 |
| * Organic | 1 |
| * Fair-trade | 2 |
| * Vintage or Second hand | 2 |
| * Recycling fibres/ fabrics | 2 |
| * Re-design or ‘up-cycling | 2 |
| * Technology | 2 |
2. | Natural fibres | 3 |
3. | Labor conditions | 4 |
4. | Ethical Consumer | 7 |
5. | Conclusion | 10 |
| * Gaps | 10 |
6. | Bibliography | 11 |
Ethical Fashion according to Katherine Hamnett , (1984) is an umbrella term to describe ethical fashion design, production, retail, and purchasing. It binds a range of issues such as working conditions, discrimination, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare.
The thought of ethical fashion rose within the 1980′s when concerns regarding chemicals in fabrics, for example flame-retardants and pesticide sprays in the crops, came into being. At that time, it meant chemical-free, and was mostly protecting us against fears for the own health insurance and less the global degeneration. Following the Chicago Tribune unveil Levi Strauss’s dishonest utilization of sweatshop labor overseas in ’92, eco fashion began to actually remove. Eco-fashion additionally evolved from a history of dedication to fair trade. In the late 1990s, after a huge upheaval in activism against sweatshop labor and worker exploitation (most noticeably in 1998, when the Fair Labor Association cultivated a code of labor practices for apparel companies manufacturing within the States and abroad), abundant sweatshops operated by large apparel companies were shut down.
Marx's View of the Division of Labor The Division of Labor is a subject which has fascinated social scientists for millennia. Before the advent of modern times, philosophers and theologians concerned themselves with the implications of the idea. Plato saw as the ultimate form of society a community in which social functions would be rigidly separated and maintained; society would be divided into ...
Even though it appeared large brand after large brand were being busted for applying unfair, exploitable labor and ethical fashion was growing, the idea still triggered the look of the expensive, scratchy burlap sack for any dress. It really wasn’t stylish. As time advanced, many designers began to consider are a symbol of eco fashion, and express lines of clothing which were fashionable, organic and fair trade.
As kim kent(2007) states that the organic movement got its start in the 60s, and in the middle of the innovations of this era was an unprecedented push for locally-grown food products free from pesticides or chemicals, eventually expanding into the land of cosmetics and beyond. Within the sixties, hippies dawned tie-died t shirts, long skirts and peace-sign add-ons. The seventies were based on polyester clothing and sequined curler-disco clothes. Since that time, an overshadowing trend of “fast fashion,” reasonably made clothes, probably from third-world sweatshops, provide simple, cheap convenience trend of year. price could be considerably little, diving in very tempting and not likely unsuccessful, even when the gown falls apart for only three nights out.
‘Ethical’ has become a somewhat catch-all term in fashion encompassing a number of issues. In broad terms, these are: Organic, Fair-trade, Vintage or Second Hand, Recycling fibres / fabrics, Re-design or ‘up-cycling’ and Technology.
The use of organic, all-natural fibres such as cotton, silk, hemp, and linen require significantly less energy to grow and use. Organic cotton, for instance, is grown without chemicals, herbicides, insecticides, or deodorants so its farmers work with the environment instead of fight it when they plant and harvest crops, using simpler methods of pest and weed management and often hand-picking and manufacturing their own crops.
This term does not just define all the latest or the most popular or the most famous clothes. In reality this social phenomenon involves more importance. In some way fashion helps us to show who we are and depict our personality in the terms of visual information. In the way we choosing clothes we show our attitude to world and other people. It is also some kind of communication. We put some of ...
The use of fair pay in line with (and often exceeding) the minimum living wage, trade unions supported , equality / gender issues examined , development and nurturing of local skills and communities , can help support farmers during organic conversion.
* Vintage or Second Hand
opening of vintage shops, charity shops, dress Agencies, internet, swishing / clothes swapping.
* Recycling fibres / fabrics
It can be pre- or post-consumer waste e.g. polyester garments or plastic bottles broken down, re-polymerized & made into fibres, rubber re-used for trainers soles.
Re-design or ‘up-cycling’
the pre-consumer waste e.g. off cuts and post-consumer waste e.g. unwanted garments rework into new designs or decommissioned fire hoses made into luxury bags / belts from Eako.
The development of materials and processes that are kind to workers and the environment e.g. growth of wipe-clean garments or development of 100% biodegradable garments and technological advances in processing renewable raw materials suitable for fabric production; bamboo and soya are successful examples – plants such as banana and nettle are in development.
This paper discusses three aspects of ethical fashion:
1. Natural fibres.
2. Labor standards.
3. Ethical consumerism.
The growing demand for more environmentally friendly products has generated new awareness at each level of the textile industry. Organically grown cotton is considered the most important textile fabric because of its durability, ease of dyeing and laundering. wool: The finest wools comes from merino sheep, cashmere or angora goats and alpacas or llamas, hemp and flax : Flax plants provide the linen fibres and experts say that the flax plants with blue blossoms are the best. Transforming the flax into linen is a process which requires much hand work and machine work are increasingly being used . These plants grow without the use of synthetic chemicals and therefore eliminate ground water contamination these organic fibres are also biodegradable. To increase the durability and longitivity of the fibres they are often blended with other fabrics, which the world’s greatest designers are doing. They tend to frown on “synthetics.” They use “poly silk” or “poly wool” or “cotton blend.” All three of those terms mean natural fiber blended with a synthetic fiber. And none of them means the fabric is not good. Rather, it means that the quality of the natural fiber is enhanced with the capabilities of the synthetic fiber as the two are woven together (Joan.1987) . It’s not that natural fibres cannot stand alone in fabrics. It’s just that pure cotton tends to wrinkle or pure silk can’t be washed or pure angora tends to shed a lot. So, natural fibres are blended with synthetics to make them more versatile. Another such fabric is excel Denim which is made of wood pulp – a natural resource which is biodegradable. Internationally acclaimed designer Rajesh Pratap Singh showcased his collection using the same (Srinivasan, 2011).
CHANEL Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel was born in Sau mur, France in 1884. Vogue Magazine referred to her as "the couturier who takes no account of fashion, who pursues her own faultlessly elegant line in the quiet confidence that fashion will come back to her - and sure enough it always does." Chanel began designing heavily during the 1920 s. Her first outfits were wool jerseys, and were very simple. ...
Likewise Les Racines du Ciel (The Roots of the Sky, in English), a year-old brand, six-month-old brand Fes de Bengale (Fairies of Bengal in English) , Lebanese designer Ghanem. The recycled kimonos, silk and organic cotton tops, in soft pinks and greys, are designed by the above mentioned to draw a fashion-conscious customer who might be surprised to learn the items are naturally dyed with sweet potatoes and mud.
Equally, designers use recycled materials, such as Bilum, which makes funky bags from advertising posters and seat belts.
At a recent high profile wedding the bollywood stars Genelia D’Souza and Ritesh Deshmukh, bollywood stars Kangana Ranaut and Arpita Khan dazzled the paparazzi with their long skirts made of block printed khadi. Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who designed both the skirts is a part of a growing number of fashion designers who are trying to revive this fabric. Last October at the spring 2012 Wills Lifestyle India fashion Week, the designer James Ferreira’s ephemeral collection was made from khadi fabric, woven bright hues, with modern cuts. In Hyderabad , the eco friendly designer Aravind Joshua designs khadi costumes for his film collaborations under his label Thrithvaakhadi. In Bangalore, two designers , Ravi Kiran and Chandrasekhar have started a new label, Metaphore Rachna, which focuses exclusively on khadi.
During last February 2009 F/W New York fashion week, I had met uncountable number of people and cultures but on reflection, all the memories have been torn apart. Probably because of my bad memory but I also was drunk on my cold medication. The last day when Ralph Lauren collection was on, that morning was even harder than others. When I was in agony between leaving the room or not, I remember ...
The more the ethical clothing category advance, the less it seems another passing fad.
Ghanem says: “… I’m about making ethical fashion glamorous and beautiful; it’s not about being boring and stereotypical in environmental fashion anymore.” this can be seen in his new collection at London Fashion Week on February 22.”It’s hard bringing ethics into fashion, with the price of organic materials and dyes, as well as adhering to fair pay for employees bringing costs much higher than usual.”
Sales of ethically sourced clothing, which contains organic cotton, fair-trade clothes and recycled items, grew 30 percent in the U.K. to 43 million pounds or $81 million in 2004, according to the Co-operative Bank’s Ethical Consumerism report. Meanwhile, ethically motivated second hand clothing purchases increased 42 percent to 383 million pounds, or $718 million (Groves and Ellen, 2006).
Ethical Fashion Show, which took place in Paris from Oct. 13 to 16 (2006), suggests that growth is not likely to slow down anytime soon. More than 4,000 visitors, incorporating scores of international media, attended the four-day event, a 54 percent jump over 2005. Featuring 60 brands from five continents, the third edition of the trade fair showed how much the ethical category has diversified over the last year.
However, eco or organic clothing is still an area that is heavily undeveloped and one which retailers remain aware of. One prominent retailer in the Mintel survey said, “Eco is substantial but ethical is of greater priority because it is emotional and therefore higher up people’s agendas”(Allana 2009).
Now this organic fibre, for example organic cotton is grown on plantation, spun into yarn, dyed, woven or knit into cloth and then sent to factories for production, that’s where the next step of ethical labor conditions comes in.
The apparel industry in particular has come under violation for human rights abuses in the manufacture and distribution of merchandise under “sweatshop” conditions. Critics say that merchandise is often produced by laborers who are paid far less than a living wage while being forced to work under blameworthy, inhumane conditions. Charles Kernaghan, executive director of the National Labor Committee, has been among the most outspoken critics of labor exploitation by U.S. corporations. Kernaghan is alert to point out that labor costs as a percentage of retail prices shows just how boundless exploitation is in many underdeveloped countries. In eight hours, a worker goes home with 43 cents in her pocket, after reductions for transportation, meals at the plant and other work-related budget. The workers live in one-room shacks that lack running water, which they must purchase by the bucket for 8 cents. On average, a family needs six buckets a day, which costs 48 cents – more than they come home from work with (Kernaghan 1997).
The UN AIDS Inter-Agency Task Team on Gender and HIV/AIDS, in its fact sheet “HIV/AIDS, Gender and Sex Work,” published in its 2005 Resource Pack on Gender and HIV/AIDS, stated as follows with their own way of understanding by presenting a broad definition “A broad definition of sex work would be: ‘the exchange of money or goods for sexual services, either regularly or ...
According to Iwanow, McEachern and Jeffrey (2005), one child in every six aged between five and 17 being abused by child labour around the world (The International Labour Organisation, 2003), international conventions on child labour practices (e.g. The International Labour Organisation, (TLO) 1973; UNICEF, 1997) have been formalised. The primary ILO conventions include: Convention No. 138, which forbids all economic activity by children under the age of 12; and Convention No. 182, which forbids and appeals for the elimination of all child labour for children aged under 18. Despite an growing number of countries devoting themselves to these conventions, they are not as yet universally ratified. It is astonishing to note that child labour abuse are also found in post-industrialised economies such as the USA and the UK (Raworth, 2004; Adams, 2002; McClintock, 1999).
In August 1996, the Apparel Industry Partnership was formed under the auspices of President Clinton (Harris and McKay 1997).
The Partnership is bound to the reduction of human rights abuses in the apparel industry. Stripped to its essentials, the workplace code of conduct contained in the partnership agreement calls for the following:
* Prohibitions on the use of child labor.
Charles and Keith is a multinational company that is fashion industry dealing with brand from Singapore. It offers both men’s and women’s fashion collections. Their products include ties, shoes, belts, wallets, sunglasses among others. The company is owned by Charles Wong and his brother Keith Wong. It was founded in 1996 in a place called Amara Shopping Centre in Singapore. The purpose of this ...
* Elimination of worker abuse, harassment, and discrimination.
* Recognition of worker rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining.
* Requirement that workers be paid either the legal minimum or prevailing industry wage, whichever is higher.
* A maximum work week of 60 hours and a cap on mandatory overtime.
* A safe and healthy job site environment.
Another such initiative is as stated by Newbery, Malcolm; Ghosh-Curling, Rani (2011) The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) it is a ground-breaking alliance of companies, trade unions and willing organisations. They work in association to improve the lives of workers across the globe who make or grow consumer goods – everything from tea to T-shirts, from flowers to footballs. Its spokesperson Alex Macintosh says “Our vision is a world where all workers are free from exploitation and injustice, and work in conditions of independence, security and equality. This year our corporate members’ ethical trade activities touched the lives of over 8.6 million workers.”
Ethical trade means that retailers, brands and their suppliers take accountability for evevating the working conditions of the workers who make the products they sell. Most of these people are employed by supplier companies around the world, many of them are in poor countries where rules designed to protect workers’ rights are insufficient or not enforced.
Companies with a obligation towards ethical trade affirm a code of labour practice that they expect all their suppliers to work towards. Such codes address contentions like wages, hours of work, health and safety and the right to join free trade unions.
Barrie, Leonie; Ayling, Joe (2009) observe that at a conference organised in London in 2008 by the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), which campaigns to improve labour standards in supply chains, Phil Wrigley, executive chairman of the New Look fashion chain, made the point: “In this ambigious market, the recession squeezing consumers, and many businesses under very real pressure, it’s easy to imagine that the obligation to ethical trading might slip.”
He added: “When people find themselves under economic burden they tend to think about self preservation and a little less about others.”
The apprehension is that many retailers will no longer see problems such as the living wage or a reduction in working hours at their suppliers’ factories as a priority now they are struggling with slumping sales and, in many cases, their own survival.
Marks & Spencer, Gap and Next have all launched their own inquiries into the abuses and pledged to end the practice of boundless overtime, which is in flagrant violation of the industry’s ethical trading initiative (ETI) and also of Indian labour law. Some employees say they were paid at half the legal overtime rate. Gap, which adopts the same factory as Next, ratify it had found wage violations and gave its supplier a deadline of midnight last night to repay employee who lost out. M&S says it has yet to see confirmation to support the wage claims.
Workers also say that those who refuse to work the extra hours have been told to find new jobs. In the 1990s, Nike was dogged by allegations that some of its products were made in sweatshop conditions and even by child labour.
When we talk about ethical conduct and social responsibility, fashion brands have often had a poor track record because outsourcing to low-cost contractors in developing countries typically resulted in arms-length relationships between brand owners and producers, making labour practices harder to police.
Joe(2010) further states that with many apparel manufacturers and retailers continuing to manufacture products in countries which do not acknowledge such conventions, their motivations for actualizing codes of conduct are examined, particularly if their policies are simply seen to be jumping on the bandwagon of ethical policy making, as part of their marketing strategy in reaction to increased consumer awareness. The majority of corporate codes are intended (i.e. as opposed to regulatory), constructed and implemented by the companies themselves and lack external verification. Therefore, they are often viewed merely as a public relations exercise, designed to affect consumer awarness of brands (Emmelhainz and Adams, 1999).
In the year2010 action group Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) has called upon sportswear brands to take more action to improve wages and working conditions for those who yield their goods. On the eve of the 2010 Winter Olympics, the CCC and other labor rights organizations launched a new ‘Clearing The Hurdles’ Web site to scrutinize the commitments companies have made to implementing real change for sportswear workers in manufacturing countries.
Mr Cervera says “The fashion business is uniquely suited to addressing third- world issues because of its increasing reliance on outsourcing,”. He further adds that the “Working circumstances can be ethically evaluated, and who a brand such as ours conducts business with – and which brands consumers choose to buy – has a significant impact.”
McClatchy(2011) affirms that ethical fashion brands include US-based American Apparel, which have its own outlets in Germany, France and the UK as well as the US and Canada. It has grown hastily in the two years since it introduced a “no sweatshops” policy.
McClatchy (2010) claims that however, the growing band of fashion businesses, emphasizing their ethical practices face important branding and marketing challenges. Brand owners must not only affirm any ethical claims they make; they also risk being criticised by consumers for cynically exploiting doing the right thing for commercial gain.
Richard Cervera, Edun’s chief executive, is under no chemira about how difficult it is for a brand to live up to such promises. “The amplitude to which ethical codes of conduct within the fashion industry are adhered to is flexible,” he says. “Even where practices are sound there is a tendency to switch production frequently to achieve the cheapest prices, so relationships between brand owners and their producers in developing countries are short term.”
“A brand’s true value today isn’t just about profit and loss. Progressively it’s about accountability – being able to demonstrate clearly where and how a product was made,” says Martin Raymond, future director of London-based trends forecaster The Future Laboratory. “There has been advancing acknowledgment that brands can leverage their position internationally by being ethical.” However, opinion is bisected over the extent to which corporate ethics should be employed in branding and marketing.
Ben Wood, director of Added Value, a Paris-based strategic marketing agency, is against aligning brands with a business’s ethical stance: “There’s now a growing expectation that companies should behave ethically as a matter of course – that to sell your brand as ethical is a cynical exploitation of good business practice.”
He also argues that consumers’ interest in corporate ethics varies across products. “Fashion is mainly about style and aesthetics,” he explains. “The sexiness of a brand will forever be more significant to the consumer than any socially aware, positive message.”Dov Charney, founder of American Apparel, admits.
The media are already taking a role. This high sensitivity towards ethical practices within the fashion industry is in large part due to media reportage and the exposé of child labour issues and unfair working practices within supply chains, such as those showed in the BBC’s Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts documentary series.
Ethical consumerism is the choice to buy products, which consumers believe have been produced using ethically-sound processes (The Co-operative Bank, 2002). Issues acknowledged by the ethical consumer include breaches in labour practices and human rights. However, Lavin (1999) maintains that consumers have demonstrated little inclination to boycott stores associated with “sweatshop” activities. One annotation for consumers’ lack of commitment to the “sweatshop” debate is that they do not have access to information about where garments are manufactured and the rights of the employees involved. To counteract this disparity, sales of ethical apparel goods have been guided by the campaign activities of Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) such as Oxfam, The ETI and Traidcraft Exchange (e.g. “Clean Clothes Campaign”, “Mind the Gap”, “Sweatshop Watch”).
These campaigns are designed to inform and encourage consumers to buy clothes that are manufactured under fair working conditions (Labour Behind the Label, 2003a).
Fair wear foundations report publically about brand performance, progress in factories as well as worker complaints and that is where the consumer comes in. Public reporting allows the consumer to see what is behind the label and to make an informed decision about what clothes to buy.
Fashion adoption theory; developed by Sproles (1979) indicates consumers’ purchase intentions start with an awareness of new fashion and social issues. According to Sproles and Burns (1994), the main incentives for consumers to follow fashions are associated with social/psychological needs, such as adapting to a changing society, escaping boredom, and agreeing to expectations of social affiliations. Consumers may also adopt these considerations in their purchase of environmentally friendly clothing (EFC).
Even though consumers demand more ethical responsibility from companies, it is controversial if consumers would sacrifice their own personal needs to support ethically produced clothing. The ethical consumer market is going through a significant period of growth. Also in the fashion industry a alteration is taking place. Current ethical fashion brands, such as American Apparel and People Tree, are trying to bring a new approach to the market and to gain interest from the ordinary fashion consumer. Their recent success and business progess in the fashion market raises the question whether or not ethical consumerism is “back in fashion” and if the alteration to a new consciousness really hits the fashion nerve of mainstream consumers of our times. It is controversial whether the majority of consumers would truly forgo their self-interest in order to purchase alternatives produced under ethically acceptable conditions.
Surveys have produced evidence that consumers will reward businesses that treat their workers and the environment fairly and sanction those that do not Creyer and Ross, (1997); Forte and Lamont,(1998).But according to Joergens (2006) Consumer admitted that they would buy a garment made by an unethically acting company, because they like the style and desire to have the product. Furthermore, fair trade grocery products and organic food has more importance, mainly because food directly affects health, but unethical clothing does not damage one personally. It is suggested that consumers show more ethical commitment when it has a positive influence on their own health rather than to others involved in the supply chain. However, consumers think that it is also the duty of the consumer to ask companies for more social responsibility and to act ethically.
However as stated by Valery (2010), Strong (1996) the rise of ethical consumerism shows that consumers are increasingly willing to integrate ethics in their product purchase decision. But he maintains that the effect of ethical issues on consumers purchasing behaviour is relatively low because consumers cannot avoid acting unethically when purchasing clothing which refers to low or no availability of fashion that suits their aesthetic needs. Ethical fashion can be bought primarily from catalogues but for the charge of higher prices. The potential for ethical fashion is seen with little doubt. They would not mind that their clothes were produced ethically, but in the end, it all counts on style and price. Hae Jin Gam(2011) asserts that consumers more likely to practice ecological purchasing behavior. Ecological purchasing behaviours are defined as consumers selecting products, recycling, and taking other actions to takecare of the environment (Fraj and Martinez, 2006).
Studies have concluded that consumers who are concerned about the environment and practice eco-friendly behavior purchase more green products( Diamantopoulos et al. , 2003); ( Zimmer et al. , 1994).
Fraj and Martinez (2006) also found that consumers who work to improve themselves and enjoy challenges in doing so are often aware of environmental problems and have an ecologically sensitive lifestyle.
In addition, consumers who favour to practice eco-friendly behaviour are more inclined to practice eco-friendly apparel consumption behaviour (Kim and Damhorst, 1998).
Another study confirmed the positive relationship between environmental concerns and response to green clothing advertisements ( Kim et al. , 1997).
Based on previous literature, the researchers’ approach to determining an individual’s level of environmental concern employed measures of environmental attitudes, knowledge, and behaviour.Bohlen et al. (1993) developed three appropriate indicators – knowledge about environmental concern, attitudes toward the environment, and environmentally precise behaviour – to measure ecological concerns.
An October 2008 study by the consumer behaviour research company TNS World panel reported that 72 per cent of British consumers thought that ethical production of the clothes they buy is significant, up from 59 per cent in 2007. Further, market researchers Mintel estimate that the UK market for ethical clothing has more than quadrupled over the last four to five years to £173 million (US$ 294 million).
Moreover, the maintained focus of social issues resulted in fair trade cotton product sales reaching £34.8 million (US$ 58.5 million) in 2007.
“If a big name in the fashion world starts ecofriendly as the way to be in fashion today, then success in sustainability will be much quicker,” says Ms Sozzani.
WWF supports Ms Sozzani’s statement- According to Anthony Kleanthous and Jules Peck; policy advisers to WWF, high-end luxury labels are positioned to integrate ethical into their collections. “Consumers are not usually anticipate to pay more or put themselves out to buy green or ethical but they do value these attributes as part of the brand package,” says Mr Kleanthous. She further adds that in the future, approaching fashion in an ethically responsible manner will be the way to behave. The problem is not only for the designers but also for consumers because it will take time to teach them how to recognize and choose sustainable items.”
Evidence suggests that consumers, majorly younger ones, do care about where and how the clothes they buy are made. “At the end of the day, today’s consumers want brands they believe are authentic: brands they can take pride in.”
The market for ethical fashion is growing but it should be put into context. Canadian, American, and Australian consumers are among the most active and empowered ethical consumers in the world, while Indian consumers rank at the end, according to the 2011 GlobeScan Ethical Consumerism Funnel (see fig1).
In order for the sector to have sustained growth, larger brands and retailers need to become more involved and committed. On the positive side, there is evidence to indicate that if these retailers don’t integrate ethical products and address problem areas within their supply chains, their businesses will suffer in the longer term, Mintel’s research shows that 48 per cent of survey respondents stated that clothing retailers should make it clear whether garments have been produced to a recognized ethical standard that safeguards working conditions in emerging countries.
It will also take time arid awareness for many of the larger brands and retailers to move away from stand-alone corporate social responsibility projects, such as carbon offsetting and a few lines of fair trade T-shirts, to a more integrated strategy that addresses the whole supply chain, The brands that take the lead in providing transparency to consumers, combined with innovative design and inspiration, will ensure their place among the “big names” of the fashion world in the future.
Along with this, problems with labor standards and working conditions in the apparel industry are still a reality at the turn of the twenty first century and are global issues.
Gaps in the study:
* The development of codes, vendor selection criteria should explicitly state that only code compliant suppliers will be considered adequate. Specifically, retailers should require that apparel manufacturers provide evidence of acceptable working conditions prior to issuance of contracts.
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