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The Issues

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What is Ethical Fashion?

For the EFF, ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximises benefits to people and communities while minimising impact on the environment.

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Fashion & development

The fashion industry represents an opportunity for widespread poverty reduction. As the fashion sector remains highly labour intensive, it provides an opportunity for some of the least developed countries in the world to be competitive on a global scale.

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Made in Britain

MADE IN BRITAIN labelling is more and more being associated with high sustainability standards by fashion designers and brands based in the UK.

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Standards & labelling

An introduction to a range of standards and labelling initiatives

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Fashion & awareness

The fashion industry stands out from other industries in its universal and media appeal.
There are millions of followers of fashion, and clothing is relevant to everyone.

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Trade Tariffs and barriers

‘In the globalised world of the 21st Century, trade is one of the most powerful forces linking our lives. It is also a source of unprecedented wealth…’ Watkins, K, Oxfam, (2002) Rigged Rules and Double Standards

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Wages & workers rights

Almost three quarters of world clothing exports are made in developing countries. Prices and production times have been pushed down and down. Fashion professionals hold the key to change for the garment workers in their supply chains..

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Fairtrade

Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their lot and have more control over their lives. (The Fairtrade Foundation)

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Culture and Skills

Culture and traditional dress have always been a source of inspiration for the fashion industry. Leading designers like Oswald Boateng (Ghanaian-British) Hussein Chalayan (Turkish Cypriot). Yohji Yamamoto (Japanese) and Ritu Beri (Indian) are known for creating designs which mix the cultural heritage and traditions of their roots, with contemporary Western Society…

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Sustainable livelihoods

“A job is something you have to do to earn money but a sustainable livelihood is a healthy way of living.” Anand, Textile Engineer, DA Bangalore.

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Pesticides

Cotton uses 22.5% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of all pesticides, on 2.5% of agricultural land. Chlorpyrifos, used in West African cotton, causes brain and foetal damage, impotence and sterility…

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Dyes

The global textile industry discharges 40,000 – 50,000 tons of dye into the water system and Europe discharges 200,000 tons of salt..

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Water

Water , including shortage and pollution , is becoming one of the most urgent environmental issues facing the world today. Fashion professionals have a responsibility to minimise water use in their production chains…

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Energy and waste

Transport , high energy and inefficient production processes mean that the energy costs of textiles and clothing are high.
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It is possible for fashion businesses to take effective steps to reduce their environmental footprint, and that of the industry as a whole, in terms of energy and waste.

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Organic & eco fashion

Organic fashion refers to clothing and accessories that have been made with a minimum use of chemicals and limited impact on the environment.
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Eco fashion is a broader term used for all clothing, fabrics and accessories that have been manufactured in an environmentally conscious way.

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Recycling

It is estimated that more than 1 million tonnes of textiles are thrown away every year in the UK alone. At least 50% of the textiles we throw away are recyclable..

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Africa

Trade in fashion products provides key opportunities for communities in Africa. Fashion is labour intensive, requires limited capital input, and with…

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is the second largest exporter of cotton in the world, selling over 800,000 tonnes of cotton every year. Europe is its major buyer. But while the former Soviet Republic is at the forefront of global cotton production, its human rights and environmental record lags far behind the rest of the world…

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China

More than a quarter of the world’s production of clothing and textiles is in China, which has a fast growing internal market and the largest share of world trade… The Chinese government places restrictions on the rights of workers to set up and work together in unions..

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Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe has become an important centre for garment manufacture by European companies. Its location makes short delivery times possible, it has a qualified labour force, and developed infrastructure.
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However, evidence suggests that working standards are not respected by many employers.

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The issues behind ethical fashion are complex- creating tough challenges and inspirational opportunities. We aim to give an introduction to some of the key issues in this section.

At EFF we run an email advice service and over the years we have compiled answers to hundreds of queries. We thought it would be useful to upload information online on some of the topics we are most commonly asked about.

Below is a list of issues we have provided an introduction to. Click on the individual issues to the right to read more.

BURNING ISSUES
What is ethical fashion?
Fashion & development
Made in Britain
Fashion & awareness
Standards and labelling
Fast fashion, cheap fashion
Trade tariffs and barriers

PEOPLE
Wages and workers rights
Fair trade
Culture and skills
Sustainable livelihoods

ENVIRONMENT
Pesticides
Dyes
Water
Energy & waste
Organic and eco fashion
Recycling

COUNTRY ISSUES
Uzbekistan
China
Eastern Europe

ARE THERE ANY OTHER ISSUES YOU WOULD LIKE US TO COVER?

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