With one sweatshop scandal after another, the fashion industry has had less than a clean conscious when it comes to ethical practices. The history of fashion labels taking production to cheap off shore sweat shops haunts the fashion industry like brightly coloured velour tracksuits.
Exposure of sweatshops where workers endure poor working conditions, excessively long hours, unlivable wages and other violations of human and labour rights, has sparked global outrage and for many, a commitment to finding a more ethical way to produce clothing.But what is ethical fashion?Ethical can mean different things to different people, but ethical fashion relates specifically to the the fair wages, working conditions and workers rights of all employees in the supply chain of a garment. The supply chain including everything from the sourcing of the initial thread or synthetics right through to the garment on the rack in a store. Most Australian companies who are committed to ethical fashion are part of Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) - an association of designers who create garments within ethical supply chains, where workers are employed under fair conditions and receive fair wages. You might be surprised to learn that some of Australia's big fashion names are committed to ethical fashion and you can find a list of Australian fashion houses on the ECA website.So while a brightly coloured velour tracksuit is a crime against fashion, if it has been made ethically, you can be sure that at least it isn't a crime against humanity.Image: Stefano Ember/Shutterstock