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Fast, ethical and sustainable: The challenge for twenty-first century fashion producers

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>24/02/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>The Research Journal of the Costume Culture
Issue number1
Number of pages4
Pages (from-to)114-117
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper recognises the necessity for twenty-first century fashion producers and retailers to address various ethical issues associated with out-sourced production and supply. It is recognized that the global apparel market of the twenty-first century is largely profit driven, and that the majority of producers and retailers have sourced products from the lowest cost locations in the desire to ensure that as much of that profit comes their way as possible. Purchase tickets of fashion goods available from ‘fast’ fashion retailers (at least within the UK) refrain from providing the consumer with details of the full circumstances of production (including a measure of the degree of sustainability of the product and the conditions of manufacture). It seems that the majority of major retailers and producers are not willing to engage in levels of self-regulation which could ensure that the products offered to consumers are ethically produced and offer acceptable levels of sustainability. Meanwhile it appears that many fashion consumers have the desire to purchase sustainable products which have been produced ethically by workers paid fair wages in safe working environments. It is recognized also that consumer demand could be a powerful tool to adjust the behaviour of manufacturers and buyers. With this in mind, this paper proposes the introduction of international legislation demanding greater degrees of transparency than exist currently and that the full sourcing and production details of fashion products are stated clearly on the product’s purchase ticket within its retail setting. With the introduction of such legislation, consumers could thus be given the opportunity of purchasing goods which they feel accommodate their own views on ethical manufacture and sustainable products. In turn, consumer pressure could ensure indirectly that retail buyers consider all ethical and sustainable aspects of production when negotiating with garment producers/suppliers. Further to this, such a negotiating stance could ensure the improvement of the terms and conditions of employment of the numerous garment workers worldwide.

Keywords: Sustainability, ethical production, fast fashion, consumer legislation