What is Ethical Fashion? A Complete Guide You Need to Know

What is Ethical Fashion? A Complete Ethical Fashion Guide You Need to Know

There are various ways in which you can define what is ethical fashion. Yet its primary definition refers to clothing, accessories, and various other things produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

This can consolidate things that are created utilizing reasonable materials. Furthermore, it includes things that are produced by fair trade practices and without causing any negative impact on the environment.

There are different factors to consider while studying the ethicality of a product. Without a doubt, the main things to consider are

what is ethical fashion?
  • Where the product was made
  • The processes used for production
  • What kind of materials were used  
  • What were the dyes and fertilizers were used

It is also essential to look at the company’s methodologies concerning social and environmental commitment, as well as its previous records concerning sustainability.

Ethical Fashion as Compared to Sustainable Fashion: Are Both Terms Similar?

For a variety of purposes, both terms are similar. Ethical and sustainable fashion are often used interchangeably.

However, there is a very slight difference between them, which needs to be discussed.

Taking everything into account, ethical fashion takes on the social impact of the fashion and focuses on what is morally right.

It goes beyond the working guidelines and covers many issues like living wages, working conditions, animal protection, and vegan fashion plans.

On the other hand, ethical fashion focuses on products, clothing, and accessories created using sustainable materials.

These materials include customary and sustainable fabrics for example cotton, linen, hemp, and wool. Such materials also include synthetic fibers like bamboo, rayon, and organic cotton. Similarly, it includes clothing and accessories made using fair trade practices.

Why is there a need for Ethical Fashion?

ethical fashion leads towards less carbon emission

Now that you know what is ethical fashion, you should know why it is needed.

Currently, we live in a world where a simple cup of coffee costs more than a shirt.

It’s called fast fashion, but generally speaking, it’s horrendous.

Every famous brand is doing this, changing four seasons into 52. This means they are producing a new catalog for every week of the year.

However, these designs go out of style as quickly as they arrive.

Moreover, they’re so cheaply made that finding a problem after a single wear isn’t surprising.

While reducing usage is one option, more than moderate shopping practices are needed to stop the fast fashion industry.

Below are some of the issues that show why we need ethical fashion.

1. Violation of Human Rights

The fashion industry is so vast that it includes around 300 million people who make our clothing worldwide. Human rights violations in this industry include:

  • Unsatisfactory wages
  • Child Labor
  • Exploitation of migrants
  • Gender discrimination as most garment workers are young women
  • Physical or verbal abuse
  • Additional working time with lower salaries
  • Hazardous work conditions

Moreover, the human rights violations that happen in the supply chain are

Sourcing of Raw Materials

The sourcing of raw materials involves unfair work practices of farmers and processors. This leads to exposure to harmful pesticides that have a negative environmental impact.

For example, cotton pickers experience skin allergies and headaches, which is only the start.


Most of the businesses need to provide safe environments to their workers. As a result, most workers need to deliver quality.

2. Lack of Transparency 

Almost every business today undeniably adds to modern slavery, considering the way that full transparency across the entire supply chain is so inconvenient.

Making a garment is complex, with many exchanges on the way. It involves various hands and creation bodies throughout the process.

Moreover, it routinely changes each season, and brands must change their suppliers. Even sustainable fashion brands are complicit in their supply chain since securing transparency at every step is tricky.

3. The Speed of Consumption

The scale and the continuous growth of the fast fashion industry is enormous. The world consumes 80 billion articles of clothing consistently.

Consumers today purchase 60% more clothing, which only lasts for a while as compared to clothing 15 years ago.

This uncontrolled advancement strategy has a regular negative impact both socially and environmentally.

The replacement of fast fashion is slow fashion, which includes a slow mentality of both consumption and production. On the brand side, this brings long-term designs and minimal changes to catalogs.

On the consumer side, it could mean encouraging a moderate wardrobe or reusing clothes.

4. Use of Chemicals in Manufacturing

If you thought coal mining and air travel to be the worst, the fashion industry is the most environmentally damaging. Generally, half of all materials are created utilizing organic cotton.

It is one of the dirtiest harvested crops and uses 25% and 18% of the world’s pesticides independently.

The ordinary cotton shirt is created with 17 teaspoons of fabricated materials. Not only are these dangerous to garment makers and producers but to the ones who wear them.

Considering everything, a sustainable approach is to prioritize organic crops and less destructive substances in processes.

5. Water Pollution

The chemicals used in manufacturing clothes don’t disappear on their own. Instead, they are a significant cause of water pollution.

Discussing water, fashion companies utilize 6-9 trillion liters every year. To counter this, a sustainable approach indicates water as a resource to be reused rather than discarded.

6. Material Waste

The fast fashion industry doesn’t promote a zero-waste round economy. From the production scraps to excessive deadstock of clothing, it yields enormous material waste.

Most of these get burned even before the finished product arrives on the market. Americans only reuse or give 15% of their used clothing, consistently sending 21 billion tons of material waste to landfills.

Considering 64% contain plastic, they will not biodegrade at all. Among the donation percentages, only 20% is resold, while the rest gets shipped abroad to the recycling companies.

Subsequently, you’ll see various ethical brands embracing a circular economy by making decisions to trade or reuse old pieces of clothing.

7. Ecological Change

A study has shown that the fashion industry contributes 10% of the world’s total carbon footprint. The overall cotton creation alone consistently produces 220 tons of CO2.

Without a doubt, even standard materials like regular cotton are no more sustainable than designed materials if they end up in landfills.

At landfills, they release methane gas after biodegrading anaerobically which is more solid than CO2 and a principal cause of ecological change.

In eco-friendly fashion, you’ll see things made of reused plastics and renewable energy-powered factories.

8. Greenwashing

Some fashion companies market themselves as they’re accomplishing something exceptionally extraordinary by being sustainable.

In reality, they barely follow the laws of nature and fundamental human rights. Sustainable fashion brands often get a third-party certificate to ensure their legitimacy against greenwashing claims.

How can Fashion Brands Become Ethical?

how can a fashion brand be ethical.

Hire a Sustainable Fashion Expert

There are different ways that fashion brands can utilize to be more ethical.

One way is to work with a trained professional sustainably.

A sustainable style expert can help you improve ideas in your business so that you can seek legitimate choices and bring in slow fashion.

This includes picking efficient materials or creation methodologies. They can likewise help you make courses of action and practices that will make your business even more socially and environmentally responsible.

Making a Sustainable Business Model

Another way for the fashion movement to become more ethical is to adopt a sustainable business model.

This plan will carefully incorporate the environmental and social impacts of the business. This model is more useful eventually, as it covers environmental and social damage costs.

There are different sustainable strategies that businesses can incorporate. For example, the circular economy model can be very beneficial.

Use Sensible Materials

One of the most remarkable ways fashion brands become more ethical is to use sensible materials.

Such materials have no adverse effects on the climate and are suitable for people and the planet. For example, hemp is a perfect material for green practices.

Fair Trade Practices

Another way for fashion brands to end up being sustainable is to use fair trade practices.

Fairtrade practices ensure that garment workers in the supply chain are given a fair living wage and are working in safeguarded and humane working conditions.

Ensuring fair trade proves that your brand emphasizes a lot on sustainability.

Top Advantages of Practical and Ethical Fashion

Saves Money

Have you seen how quickly a cheap shirt gets worn out? It may get worn out after just one wash.

However, that is different from the situation with slow-fashion clothing. High-quality garments imply that you can wear them many times.

This ensures that you save a lot of money, particularly for the fact that you can wear them a lot.

A modest shirt lasts only months; however, an excellent one might last up to 10 years if worn carefully.

High Quality of Clothes

Ethical fashion promotes quality over quantity. The garments are made of durable materials that are made to last longer than fast fashion garments.

Eco-friendly fabrics are milder and stronger. Therefore, you produce significantly less waste, which is difficult to achieve with fast-fashion clothing.

Less Carbon Footprint

Did you know that the fashion industry produces more carbon footprint than global flights and marine transport? Around 1.2 billion tons of carbon emissions are associated with fast fashion.

Sustainable fashion brands utilize everyday materials that take fewer assets to create, bringing down the carbon impression.

Top Brands that are Promoting Ethical Fashion

ethical fashion brands

1. Hanes Brands Inc.

A notable American clothing company, Hanes, has implemented a few eco-friendly practices. They have lessened water utilization during production processes and involved reused materials in their items.

They have likewise presented an EcoSmart line of items made with reused materials. Furthermore, the organization has defined an objective to diminish its carbon impression by half by 2030.

2. Veja

Paris-based shoe brand VEJA is another ethical fashion brand that makes a difference by blending social tasks and biological materials.

The brand diminishes its environmental impact while restricting the quantity of synthetic substances and water utilized. VEJA shoes are created at a more significant expense than different brands because they utilize Fair Trade.

3. Patagonia

A notable outdoor clothing brand known for its long-term obligation to sustainability, Patagonia utilizes sensible materials like natural cotton and reused polyester in its items.

Likewise, they focus on fair work practices and diminishing waste in their assembling processes.

Patagonia is additionally associated with a few natural practices, such as supporting grassroots ecological associations and pushing for public land security.

4. Outerknown

Outerknown is an exploring brand known for its all-out obligation to sustainability. With 90% of its fibers being natural, reused, or recycled, 100% of its trunks are made with reused or sustainable strands.

With that, this brand sets the bar high for the fashion business. They have confidence in making superb quality, durable, and practical items.

They emphasize keeping their clothing out of landfills and available for use for eternity.

How can we Shop Ethically as Consumers?

Customers have a vital impact in advancing ethical fashion brands. But most of them don’t even know what is ethical fashion.

It is essential to know about the issues associated with the fashion business and the effects that your choice can have.

When you know about these issues, you can then make good decisions on your garment purchase. While looking for garments, search for things produced using economical materials. Moreover, look for brands that utilize sustainable practices throughout their production processes.

Likewise, make sure to do all necessary investigations before you purchase anything. This implies correctly reading labels, investigating brands and retailers, and posing inquiries about where garments are made and materials utilized. Each time you purchase something, you choose the world you want to live in. Hence, it would be best if you are mindful of your choices.


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