I'm biased; it's the founding concept of The Fashion Advocate, so my answer is always a resounding 'yes' to the question, 'Ethical fashion: Do people really care?'.
Explaining exactly what ethical fashion is, isn't so simple. It's a can of worms that Vollie and Pro Bono Australia opened last week at their inaugural 'Espresso Martinis and Impact' event series, and judging by the sell-out crowd of 200, shoppers are searching for answers.
'Espresso Martinis and Impact' kicked off in Melbourne at the iconic One Roof Women with a panel line-up of ethical advocates, a room full of eager fashion enthusiasts, and of course, Melbourne's favourite cocktail.
Chaired by Angela Bell (National Manager at Ethical Clothing Australia), the prickly questions were asked and the poignant answers were offered; fashion has a lot to answer for. My industry, the very thing that I live for, love and dedicate every waking minute to, is responsible for abominable amounts of waste, environmental devastation, and modern slavery. Fast fashion giants rape and pillage the earth, exploit garment workers and oppress geographically-disadvantaged workers, many of whom are women. The facts are shameful, but they're also changeable.
I take responsibly for my role working in fashion, and we are actively trying to change the industry for the better through The Fashion Advocate. We support labels who create fashion the right way, the ethical and sustainable way, and we promote designers who work towards positive social and environmental change. We champion people who use fashion as a force for good because it is entirely possible to be just that - good.
Nick Pearce (Co-Founder and CEO at HoMie) shared my views, and he's one of the most humble human beings I've met in the industry to date. I sat alongside Nick on our impact-driven panel, and every time he opens up about HoMie, I am reminded of how much good there is in the world. He's a positive change maker with a big heart, and at the core of HoMie, is a desire to make the world a better place through fashion.
Nick Savaidis (Founder and Director at Etiko Fair Trade) is a veteran when it comes to the topic, and he was best placed to answer the question given his experience. Etiko is one of Australia's oldest ethical fashion brands, and for the past 12 years, Nick has been 'making fashion fair' with organic and vegan materials. Etiko recently scored an A+ in the Australian Ethical Fashion Report for the sixth year running, and it's no easy feat with 33 criteria relating to wages, supply chains, policies, worker empowerment, transparency, traceability, and environmental impact.
Jordan Deichen (Premium Lead at GlamCorner) and Gershon Nimbalker (Social Change and Supply Chain Sustainability Consultant at Stop The Traffik) weighed in on the conversation too, and while we all come from different backgrounds and niches within the industry, we all agreed; fashion can be used as a force for good.
It's time to roll up our sleeves and commit, individually, collectively, consumers and companies alike. The responsibility needs to be owned by every single person wearing clothes. When we get up and get dressed, we all have the power to create positive change, and that is an incredibly beautiful thing.
The Fashion Advocate x