Fashion, as an industry came into being with the mechanization of sewing and the ability to mass produce textiles and garments in factories. With the rise of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-19th century, clothing moved away from being a home-made item, or something one ordered from a tailor, to being more readily available on a larger scale.
As an industry, it has developed into two broad streams, “high fashion” (exclusive, custom made items) and “fast fashion” (clothing lines that are based on recent trends). While both serve different ends of the consumer market, they are equally competitive and have driven the industry to find means of production and of sourcing raw materials, that have come into question in the recent past. Tragedies such as the collapse of the Rana Plazza in Bangladesh have highlighted not only some of the unethical practices in the the industry, but the human and environmental costs too. Documentaires such The True Cost, lift the veil on the industry and provide thought provoking and sobering insight.
A recent article in the Huffington Post titled, Fixing Fashion: A Framework to Make Sustainable Fashion the Industry Standard, provides a good analysis of not only the problems within the industry, but a holistic approach to addressing these issues.
What are some of the sustainable and ethical approaches you employ in with your artisans and producers? We’d love to hear your best practices!