Thoughts on | Let's get Ethical
This morning as a part of New Zealand Fashion Week 2018, Outliv hosted a panel discussion asking "How can we bridge the gap between the rising awareness of ethical fashion and consumer choice?."
I really enjoyed the chance to hear Laurie Foon; Central Coordinator for Sustainable Business Network and formerly of NZ brand Starfish. She has high hopes for the designers of New Zealand fashion to lead the way into circularity - a buzz word that I first heard at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in 2016 and am heartened to see making an impact here. Fellow panellist Kerith McKenzie-Brown; Founder of children's brand Oki For All is following the Eileen Fisher method and introducing a take-back scheme where customers can bring back used Oki garments for a store credit, then the item is mended, over-dyed or re-worked and available for resale through the original maker.
One of the questions raised during the Q+A was Ethics vs. Sustainability, which is better and which do you value more?
This kept playing on my mind (obviously it wasn't directed to me so I had a lot more time to come up with an answer than the panellists) and for me at least the two are rather impossible to seperate. My initial thought was that of course the environment is more important! We need the world to have clean air for us to breathe, clean water to drink and enough food for us to eat. However when you consider the life that the garments factory workers and even the owners re living in say Bangladesh, where their profit margins are being squeezed ever tighter by large overseas fast fashion companies. How much time do these people have to spare to care for their environment? Is the time to gain and pursue the knowledge that we have around sustainability in fashion not a luxury of the privileged position we hold as westerners?
My final answer would have to be both - Sustainability is the umbrella but Ethics is the handle.
It was a special treat to hear Ethically Kate speaking about her passion for spreading the good word about sustainable/ethical fashion. She is an incredible woman and has a particular talent for making what can feel like an overwhelming subject matter really accessible.
On recommendation I will be listening to The Wardrobe Crisis - a podcast by Claire Press.