Fashion With A Conscience

With everyone from Stella McCartney to Bono advocating it, Aoife Valentine considers the importance of ethical fashion

In a world seemingly led by consumerism and consumption, new trends surface every other day. It’s easy to buy cheaper imitations of runway collections on the high street and replace them as soon as a new trend surfaces. Fashion houses have responded to these needs.

Ethical fashion has been a rising trend for a while now. Venturing to make everything from the sustainability of production methods to workers’ pay and conditions as morally sound as possible, it’s not quite as superficial as the label ‘trend’ suggests. Various companies like Topshop and Zara have jumped onboard and begun stocking Fairtrade and organic lines, or joining schemes like the Ethical Trading Initiative, which aims to improve the working lives of producers across the planet.

Celebrities are not far behind, attaching their names to eco-fashion lines and labels. Ali Hewson, along with her husband Bono, founded EDUN; an organic cotton label focused on sustainability and Fairtrade practices. They have set up employment schemes in underdeveloped countries and have been consistently intent on proving that organic produce can feasibly be profitable too.

Stella McCartney is also famed for her efforts in eco-chic. She is the only high-end designer who simply refuses to use fur or leather in her collections and she also produces organic lines. She is a known advocate of wardrobe staples, rather than fast fashion and everything she produces is cruelty-free.

These companies all embody fashion with a conscience, but without sacrificing style. A whole line of generic off-white organic cotton T-shirts with a charity logo on them is not what they want. They’re competing in the market as a whole, just with superior morals.

Ethics are all well and good, but they come at a price, one that perhaps student budgets won’t always stretch to. That’s not an exemption from being eco-friendly however. Adapting your spending to invest in wardrobe staples, rather than following any mindless trend going, results in less waste, and likely, less dodgy photos for future-you to look back on.

Shopping in charity shops allows for recycling clothes which stops them being left to overflow already-full landfills, not to mention the amount of hidden fashion potential if you have an open mind.

No one is going to save the world with that one organic charity T-shirt they bought that one time, but it’s a step. Being environmentally and ethically aware is important to a sustainable livelihood for all involved and with designers acknowledging that style is still important with eco-fashion. This is one trend you can fully get behind.

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