Degrees of faith – Emily Snape

So where do you stand?

Are you an out and out fast fashion lover? Do you bat away questions regarding ethics with responses such as; if we didn’t buy it how would those communities survive? or it can’t be all that bad, or even a brutally honest I don’t care as long as I look good and it’s cheap.

Maybe you dip your toe into ethical waters, look for organic cotton, or Fair Trade labels. Decide to boycott a store when the papers reveal their working practices.

Or are you attempting to go deeper into ethical fashion and find yourself overwhelmed by the different labels / backgrounds/ assessments / certifications etc ? Should you shop sustainable or ecological or Fair Trade? Should you stop clothes shopping at all and get into the upcycling vibe? Should you only buy from charity shops?

Are you a kick ass fashion eco warrior who can tell her People Tree from her Topshop?

I think I’m number three, because the ethical fashion world is expanding, far quicker than I think many people could have imagined. Every time I go on twitter or Google I come across something new, be it a designer or an article. This can be intimidating for some, do you have to know every angle of ethical fashion to engage successfully with its practises? Well in a perfect world, yes. But only because in a perfect world we would be able to track everything we own, to know where it came from, how it was made and by whom. From food stuffs to bed linen to the shoes on our feet, we have become far too removed from the means of production. However in the real world, no. No you don’t need to be utterly consumed by, well, your attitude to consumption. It’s taken me 28 (nearly 29) years to work out that you don’t have to be perfect. And you don’t have to hide that imperfection.

Ethical fashion is difficult in the sense that it contains layers upon layers, you could go so deep as to travel the world watching the production of one garment of clothing. However ethical fashion also has to be practical. In order for it to tip the balance and become standard practise it has to be something which consumers can slot into their lives. I’m not letting us off the hook completely, there will still be an element of discovery from the buyer’s end, which trust me is really exciting.

Plus all the old stereotypes are falling away, no you don’t have to wear hemp (although it’s had a pretty radical make over), or floral smocks, or fall off the edge of the style globe.

And you can start at any of the steps, just look for the organic label, or search for fair trade, check out your local vintage market or charity shops. Don’t let the intensity that can be surrounded by doing the right thing scare or dissuade you from involving yourself with it. And on the same note, don’t let anybody else talk you out of it, mock your decisions or belittle your beliefs. Because as trite as this may sound, one person can make a difference. As the good old Dalai Lama points out, all change has to start from within, that doesn’t just account for personal change but global and societal.

 I guess what I’m trying to say is I know it can be tough and maybe overwhelming, but that can’t be an excuse to avoid getting involved.

Just pick your moment, make your choices and see where it takes you.


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