The Slow Fashion Movement and how we support itPosted on Sep 08, 2019
The ethics of the fashion industry and the slow fashion movement
Part of planning the manufacture of the garments in my collection was to ask questions about the ethical standards of the textile and fashion industries. The answers I received were quite disturbing. This comment was typical of the responses I got when I asked if the fabrics were ethical and sustainable:
“It is a really difficult job to spin positive things about cotton and garment production. These cottons are from sources all over the world, sustainable in the sense that they can be maintained at a certain rate but that rate is very, very high volume with the processing involved using high volumes of water and chemicals.”
We are so used to buying garments on the high street for £30 or £40 that we don’t even question if that’s a fair price. When you know the steps involved in getting garments like this to market, you realise that someone in the supply chain is being short-changed.
The cheaply-priced, fast-paced model dominates the modern fashion industry. To be competitive on the high street, retailers put out new designs almost every week. This equates to many thousands of designs each year. The cost-competition and turn-around times involved in this process results in staggering environmental and human costs. And the people hit hardest by this are communities in developing countries, which is where the supply chain begins.
Cotton is the single best-selling fibre in the world
Take the cotton industry, for example… the farming and picking of cotton relies heavily on the use of illegal child labour. In Egypt, rural children are hired from May to July to control cotton leaf worm infestations. The children work 11 hours a day, 7 days a week, which far exceeds the maximum six hours a day set down by law. These are children between the ages of 7 and 12, earning as little as one US dollar a day.
In Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, for example, rural schools are closed during the cotton harvest. Many families would struggle to survive without the money that children bring into the home during the harvest season.
In the South Indian textile industry, women and girls, some as young as 15, are recruited from communities in impoverished rural areas. They are forced to work long hours for low wages. They’re housed in very basic company-run hostels and hardly ever allowed to leave the company compound.
These problems are not just confined to the East. In Buenos Aires, illegal sweatshops churn out cheap garments by employing workers on the black market. Even though Argentinian law protects workers’ rights, these are ignored. Garments produced in factories here end up on the shelves of many respected fashion brands.
The slow fashion movement has arisen in response to concerns about the impact fast fashion has on people and the planet.
As India Knight said recently, in The Times, “buying fast fashion is like gorging on junk food – bad for us and the planet.”
Some characteristics of a slow fashion brand
- Uses high quality, sustainable materials
- Selling in local boutiques, or online, rather than huge chain stores
- Locally sourced and produced (zero air miles, reduced carbon footprint)
- Fewer, select items per collection, which are released twice or maximum three times per year.
Many people are now turning their backs on cheap ‘fast fashion’. As understanding of this ethical crisis in the fashion industry spreads, people are beginning to choose clothes that will last longer than one season, and clothes that are manufactured locally by employees who are fairly and properly remunerated for their work and level of skill.
Magi Rose upholds the principles of the slow fashion movement and supports moves such as H&M’s introduction of Conscious Products, and their commitment to be using sustainably sourced textiles by 2030. It will take time to educate the public but this is undoubtedly going to result in an increase to the average price of a garment purchased on the high street.
At Magi Rose we strive to implement our activities with integrity, in a socially conscious and ethically responsible manner. Our aim is to have the least impact on the environment, reducing waste on packaging and using recyclable stationery.
We will continue to monitor the ethical and sustainable sources of our fabrics.
We have made it a cornerstone of our brand that our garments are made here in the UK, by skilled British workers, who are paid a fair wage, and work in a safe and healthy industrial environment.
The Magi Rose collection will appeal to the woman who sympathises with the slow fashion movement, valuing quality and the environment through a dependable clothing range. Trustworthy wardrobe favourites, like the Magi Bagi, to return to time after time.