Ethical fashion can be defined as the production of textile items with a conscience. With the concept of social responsibility gaining ground, corporate all over the world are recognizing the importance of environment protection and ethical business. Fashion houses are no exclusion. More and more fashion designers and textile producers are determined to produce goods that do not harm the environment and are cruelty-free. Ethical issues in fashion are emerging.
The production of cotton entails the use of a large amount of pesticides, which is harmful to the environment and to people. Pesticide poisoning can lead to symptoms such as headaches, tremors, nausea, depression, seizures, loss of consciousness, and, in some extreme cases, death. Empty pesticide containers are sometimes reused, which again leads to serious ill effects on the health of the people using such containers. The use of poisonous pesticides leads to air, water and soil pollution. Apart from the pests, pesticides also cause the death of other small animals and birds consuming them accidentally.
Another serious ethical issue that arises in the fashion industry is the issue of cruelty to animals. The cruelty to animals behind the preparation of a fur coat has been brought to light time and again by animal rights activists. The pain caused to the animals while trapping them and extracting their fur is unthinkable. Similarly, a tremendous amount of suffering is caused to animals in extracting wool and leather, which goes into the preparation of fashionable shawls and boots.
Ethical Issues in a Fashion Business:
The fashion industry has complex connections to many other fields, including manufacturing, advertising, and production of raw materials, transportation and retailing. The wonderful profits that stand to be made in the fashion industry create the attraction to engage in unethical behavior. When producers, manufacturers, models or consumers are being broken or treated unfairly, fashion executives have an ethical responsibility to change the fashion.
Practically all of the models who represent fashion houses are abnormally thin, in keeping with the perceived aesthetic preferences of the public. This focus on extreme thinness in women has been blamed for eating disorders and poor body image among some women whose bodies don’t conform to this idealized image.
Fashions that use real animal fur support the fur industry, which is infamous for its inhumane treatment of animals. Fur is acquired either by trapping wild animals and skinning them or by raising animals domestically for their fur.
In their ongoing search for new, different and exciting looks, fashion designers sometimes borrow elements of foreign cultures. Some original members of these cultures don’t appreciate this practice, and blame designers of cultural appropriation.
Bringing out a new line of clothing every year encourages fashion enthusiasts to buy new clothes that they don’t really need. While some people see this as harmless or as a boon to the economy, others believe that it encourages mindless consumerism.
The materials, transportation and production that are involved in the fashion industry all have an impact on the environment. Many unreal materials are consequent from petroleum, while many more natural materials are grown on land that could be used for food production.
According to critics, advertising seduces people into buying things that they don’t need, rather than merely informing them of a product’s availability. Advertising and fashion are closely related, and they both encourage people to consume as much as possible. New fashions are widely advertised as better than whatever came before.
A large part of the appeal of expensive, fashionable clothing is that it’s selected. The vast majority of people can’t afford to buy it, so it grants a level of status and glamor to those who can.