The terms ethical and sustainable always seem to get roped together when talking about fashion. Both are very important, but it's crucial for us to know the difference because one doesn't always equal the other. If a brand is practicing sustainable standards, that's great for our planet, but does that mean the factories they work with are implementing ethical standards as well? You won't know for sure unless you see their certification, but here's how to know the difference between sustainable, and ethical fashion.
What is ethical fashion
Starting at the root of the supply chain is people. Ethical fashion is about protecting garment workers and their rights to a fair and safe work environment. Ethical factories ensure that their workers are being paid fair wages, no slave or child labor, the right to unionize, and no discrimination based on gender or religion. Ethical factories also need to have proper safety standards set in place. This is to avoid buildings collapsing and garment factory fires we see every year.
There are 8 standards that a factory needs to have to ensure that they are ethical. You can find our free guide here.
What is sustainable fashion
Sustainability can mean a number of things, all very focused on the impact to the planet. Implementing solar/renewable energy, working with non-toxic dyes that won't pollute the clean water or harm workers handling the garments being dyed, and utilizing fabrics that can be made with a low carbon footprint and are made with less or no harmful synthetic materials. Sustainability focuses on the low waste side of fashion, which benefits our planet and as a result the communities where those working in garment factories live.
Which is more important?
Both ethical fashion and sustainable fashion are vitally important because people affect the planet, and the planet affects people. However when it comes to which policies to prioritize first, we believe having stringent people policies in place first sets the foundation for a healthy sustainability journey. Sustainability is an unending journey in which you will ALWAYS find new ways to improve and reduce your impact, however you either have slaves or children in your supply chain or you don't. Make sure that is safe and secure and then begin to partner on the planet component to strengthen what you do.
If you're looking for ethical and sustainable manufacturing, join our platform today! Get connected to excellent ethical factories from Guatemala to Sri Lanka, many providing inspiring sustainability solutions as well. But if you are dreaming of launching a sustainable fashion brand and don't know where to start - Purchase our Startup Brand Kit today and put the right plan in place to launch and grow in strength.