Emerging Ethical Fashion Horizons

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 “I believed then as I do now that the future of retail commerce is centred on two quite different creeds. One that is built on greed and gain and another on experience and ethics – that latter will be the future. “ Mary Portas

It’s been an interesting week for fashion, one that very much highlights the polarities of the industry, writes Alexandra Morris. At one end of the spectrum the unsustainable, unconscious exploitative system, at the other end a brighter, more accountable fashion future.

Three years after 1100 lives were lost in the rubble of Rana Plaza, Canadian mutli-national retailer Loblaw may be brought to trial. This is positive progress on the journey to humanize the nameless, faceless machine of the fast fashion system. The more that the individual stories of the victims are told, the stronger the chance we have to re-connect the consumer with the provenance of their clothes. The more these images can permeate the hypnotic influence of multi-million pound advertising campaigns on the psyche of consumers, the greater the opportunity for change.

A young machinist Rehana Khatun testified that on the day of the disaster, in spite of workers having expressed concern about entering the factory after cracks were seen appearing in the walls, they were forced to continue their working day as usual and threatened with losing their jobs if they refused.  Rehana along with her co-workers, fearing for her livelihood unwillingly re-entered the factory, and was crushed in the collapse losing both her legs – her dream of a purposeful life in which she was able to financially support her family, shattered.

The Death Knell of British High Street Institution BHS may not have come as a surprise to many but it will be a sad loss felt most by those whose jobs and pensions have been eradicated. Recent news that former owner Philip Green together with other shareholders withdrew more than £580 Million in dividends, rental payments and loan interest prior to selling it for £1 in March 2015 is morally debatable to say the least.

Emma Watson dazzled at the Met Gala’s “Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” extravaganza, in a regal gown that was equally as pleasing to the environment as it was to the eye. The robe was the result of a collaboration between Calvin Klein and Livia Firth’s organisation Eco Age, serving as a striking platform on which to exhibit the amazing progress of eco-fashion. The garment was crafted from three different fabrics that were all made from re-cycled plastic. The gown was designed with the aim of being re-worn; the detachable trousers would be appropriate for a more casual setting and a detachable train can be adapted for other formal events.

Karl Lagerfeld’s decision to show Chanel’s 2017 Cruise Collection on the heady streets of Havana was bold, visionary, and celebratory; nothing less than the fashion equivalent of the significant Cuban debuts of Barack Obama and The Rolling Stones. Critics have been quick to point out that the show epitomises everything Castro’s revolution fought against, and the decadence of a luxury brand such as Chanel strikes a distasteful contrast with the impoverished majority of the population. It’s undeniable that this was a striking cultural event, that payed homage to Cuba’s distinctive aesthetic and compelling musical heritage with an exuberant grande finale of lithe beauties dancing down the Paseo del Prado, an explosion of tropical colour, silk ruffles, and cigar box handbags. There are positive signs that the fashion industry is beginning to dance to a new beat!

About Alexandra Morris

Alexandra Morris is Founder & Director of Luxury beachwear and resort wear label GLOMAD www.glomadbeachwear.com

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