I know you are having flashbacks of a stuffy college classroom, a professor with a mothball eaten sweater, and the only C you got on your transcripts. Oh wait, that must be me.
All joking aside, the term ethical fashion of course is derived from actual ETHICS, in which we discuss our morals, our values, and principles by which we live and act. There are two main concepts within moral relativism* that are in play here: individual and cultural. Personally, I recognize we do not live in a vacuum and are very much informed by the cultural values of the society in which we live. But, without getting too Nietzsche, I believe we are capable of defining our own personal hierarchy of values that matter most to us as individuals.
This is where defining ethical fashion gets interesting. WE HAVE CHOICES!! I am happy to support sustainably produced leather as a carnivore, but if you’re a vegan, that is going to be a struggle for you to wrap your mind around. As a woman and a mother, I find the availability of education and childcare of extreme importance to those out there sewing my clothing. As a single dude with no kids, that might not be on your radar.
I am here to tell you that all of this is okay! Morally speaking, and otherwise. There’s already enough extreme messaging out there. We do not have to fit into or ascribe to one narrow definition of anything, let alone ethical fashion. In my mind, the whole point of fashion in general is an expression of individual identity. I know we often get far from that, but don’t you think the clothes we wear are supposed to be unique? Say what you want about copying trends, but it’s a rare day when I run into someone wearing the exact same outfit as me. Well, our personal values are just as differentiated as our clothing. We do ourselves, and frankly everyone, a disservice when we limit fashion to aesthetics. There is power in our purchase, in our voices, and in our presence. And so, ethical fashion gives us the opportunity to express more than just our personalities; we can wear our beliefs on our sleeves (quite literally), and create and motivate change.
If you need help sorting this out, there’s a Values Worksheet available in my DIY Digital Workbook.
Gotta start somewhere! Why not here? Why not now?
*It’s 2018, and yes, I will reference Wikipedia, damnit!