What Difference Does Ethical Fashion Make?

by | Artisans

Read Time: 4 min.

Pebbles in Our Shoes

A wise teacher once taught that the greatest way to create positive change is not by giving people the right answers… but by asking them the right questions… questions that will leave them wondering… restless… unable to ignore… until they search out the answers for themselves.

Like pebbles in our shoes, good questions should make us uncomfortable… they should fester and poke… until we’re compelled to personally respond… to investigate, explore, identify, construct, and “live out” good solutions.

The Question of Ethical Fashion

When it comes to shopping for the clothes we wear, many people often ask the question…

 

What difference does ethical fashion make?

There are a lot of definitions and movements who will passionately answer that question for you, but the most compelling answer to that question really depends on who’s asking.

What if we ask that question…

not from the perspective of a shopper…

but from the perspective of the person who made the clothes we’re wearing right now?

Who made the clothes I’m wearing right now?

What’s her name… or his name?

What’s her story?

Where did she make them?

Was it clean there? Was it safe?

Was she allowed to go home at the end of the day?

Did she make enough money to buy food and essentials?

Does she know if she’ll ever get paid again?

How can I possibly know any of this anyway?

Searching for Answers

One way we can find out… is to take off our shoes.

Like we take off our shoes to take a deeper look until we’ve found the pebble that’s poking our toes, we should take off our shoes, our jackets, our jewelry, our bags, even our home décor – and take a deeper look at the labels – to see if the brands we’re buying are committed to protecting the human value of the products they sell… and we buy.

Are the products we purchase helping us walk a path of ethical choices or are they prodding us to make purchases that benefit us by sacrificing the dignity of other human beings?

While even the noblest fashion brands can’t guarantee perfection when it comes to ethical fashion, we can still ask good questions to help us make more ethical purchases.

Searching for Questions

One question that’s setting companies apart in 2020, is… “How are companies responding to the COVID-19 economic crisis?”

Many of our Artisan partners around the world have expressed deep concern about the impact that COVID-19 is having on the fashion industry. They see situations happening to other local businesses around them and worry that they’ll be next.

Artisans are Asking

Are companies going to honor their orders?

Are big brand labels going to cancel their orders after production has already begun… leaving the Artisans to take the financial loss of the cost of materials and labor they’ve already invested… so big brands can save their profit margins?

It’s happening.

Our Commitment to Fashion as a Force for Good

Our Floral Vines Kimono presented us with a pebble in our shoe… an opportunity to question ourselves and take a deeper look inside at what’s motivating our decisions… our priorities… our choices.

When other companies are canceling orders due to an uncertain market… and leaving Artisans to endure the loss… what should we do?

We chose to remain committed to fashion as a force for good.

What is a crisis, if not an opportunity to be a force for good?

Investing in People

We’ve chosen to continue to invest in the people behind our products. We partner with Artisan communities and workshops in 19 countries who intentionally provide opportunities for vulnerable women and families in areas of extreme poverty to empower themselves through programs that:

offer skills training

provide safe jobs with fair wages

offer opportunities to receive healthcare

provide scholarships and adult education opportunities

and provide emergency food and shelter when needed.

Photo: Maya, Floral Vines Kimono Artisan in India*

 These programs help Artisans provide food, shelter, and essential needs for their families with dignity and hope.

These programs help families rise out of slums and women break free from sex trafficking.

Does my clothing do that?
My jewelry? My accessories? My home décor?

Pebbles For Our Shoes

What difference does ethical fashion make?

That’s a good question. Maybe you came here looking for answers. Hopefully, you will leave here with more questions than when you came. Hopefully, we will all gain more pebbles in our shoes that will call for our attention each time we purchase an item of clothing, jewelry, accessories, or home décor.

Is it possible that some of the products we purchase are priced so low because someone else has already paid the price for our discount… through unsafe workspaces or unfair wages?

What difference does ethical fashion make… to an Artisan‘s children at supper time?

What difference does ethical fashion make… to a sex trafficking survivor who needs trauma counseling?

What difference does ethical fashion make… to me?

Every time we make a purchase… hopefully we will remember to ask ourselves the question…

What difference does ethical fashion make?
Trades of Hope is committed to supporting ethical fashion as a force for good.

Every purchase is an ethical choice.

* CLICK HERE to discover the difference ethical fashion made in Maya’s life.

2 Comments

  1. Kristi

    Very challenging thoughts here, but it’s a good challenge!

    Reply
  2. Dinah

    Thank you for supporting these women so they can earn a fair wage and provide for their families.

    Reply

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Kathy Thomas

Kathy Thomas

Kathy Thomas is an inspirational writer with a passion for helping women discover and celebrate their unique gifts and abilities. Kathy is part of the Communication Team at Trades of Hope focusing on Artisan Development.

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Trades of Hope is an ethical fashion and lifestyle brand that helps women around the world escape poverty and trafficking through our fair trade designs. Learn how you can partner with Artisans around the world here.