“Ethical” appears to have all kinds of definitions these days – from animal friendly to socially responsible, correctly sourced, properly labeled, properly trademarked to properly dyed and created not only with earth friendly materials but in a socially and environmentally friendly environment. The dictionary defines it as, “pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.” But what does that mean when it comes to fashion? How do you know who to trust? How do you know what to buy?
Beyond that – how do you know what sourcing methods or ethical definitions are import to you, in particular?
As in any industry, I’ve found that the ethical fashion movement has its pretenders and its pros, and those trusted authorities that can help you tell the difference.
For me, that authority has become the Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF) where I accepted a fellowship earlier this summer.
Launched out of London in 2005, the EFF is a nonprofit organization aiming to develop a collaborative movement which will transform social and environmental standards in the fashion industry within a decade. It presents over 6000 members in more than 100 countries, and provides an inclusive platform practices, resources, communication and links across the industry for designers, retailers, buyers, fair trade producers, manufacturers, NGO’s, fashion students and consumers.
EFF rates ethical criteria according to 28 different unique categories, and rates each brand, designer and shop in their database accordingly. The categories range from animal friendly, biodiversity and carbon neutral to supporting communities, supporting women and fair trade cotton, among other
The site allows you to find specific products, to companies based in specific countries to suppliers or brands that meet specific ethical criteria and/or certification you can search under product, ethics, country and keyword. It also provides tools and services that range from the fashion and textile industry’s field to final product through SOURCE – a social enterprise the EFF launched in 2011 with a mind to transform livelihoods for 2.5 million people in the developing world and significantly reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry. The EFF calls it a tool that, “makes it easy for fashion professionals and businesses to work sustainably, inspire and motivate members, facilitate research and industry collaboration and put the spotlight on best practice.”
So, how can the database benefit you as you’re searching for that perfect sweater for your mother, or those shoes for your sister, all while supporting ethical fashion?
Here are some specific tools you can use to explore the site:
- Use the Intelligence – a wealth of information providing inside information on brand leaders, suppliers, market and sales reports and supply chain innovation within the sustainable fashion business.
- Search the Database – a catalog of sustainable designers and brands, shops and buyers of ethical products, experts all organized in sub directories, along with a sourcing directory of ethical and fair trade suppliers and manufacturers.
- Join the Network – an online fashion community dedicated to sustainability that has already united thousands of individuals and businesses across the supply chain in over 100 countries.
Find out more about what the site’s resources can do for you.
(Photo: Nakate Project. Used with Permission).