The True Cost behind the Fashion Industry (part 2): The Solutions


I am not against fashion, rather to invoke how we should design, produce and consume fashion in a more environmental friendly way. Although we have got multiple problems of fashion industry, we should solve them step by step. For example, designers should consider using organic fabric or recycled fabric; manufacturers should take environmental protections and fair trade with labors into consideration. Consumers are supposed to learn about the stories behind the brand besides the price and think about how to deal with remnant clothing, whether you really need to buy the new clothing…

There is already ongoing reformation against social problems caused by the clothing industry. Let’s have a look at what designers from Hong Kong and the West did for this reformation.

@Daniel Silverstein, an independent fashion designer from New York, is doing “zero-waste design”. People outside the industry might not be aware how tremendous waste there is in the textile and clothing industry – on average nearly 30%-40% of the fabrics are wasted (plus the unsold inventory clothing and second-hand clothing, can you imagine how tremendous the waste is? So as someone who is not working in this industry, why should you care? In fact you should! ‘Cos it is related with everyone’s life! First of all, all the wasted materials are counted into the production cost, which eventually will be paid by you – consumers. Don’t blame the factories. It is the nature of business – you count in all your cost and add up mark-up for profit – just like any other industries do. Otherwise no one will make profit. Next, the textile and clothing industry consumes a lot of energy and resources, especially water. Take a simple cotton T-shirt for example. It takes around 1500 liters to plant the cotton needed for one T-shirt. To compare, an average person consumes 30 liters of water every day. Now think about the cotton T-shirts – after consuming so much energy, and a long production cycle, they will either wasted fabrics or unsold inventory. Even if someone purchased them, they might sleep in people’s wardrobe most of the time and eventually be dumped to somewhere of nowhere. This is the whole circulation of our garments today!


NY independent designer Daniel Silverstein talking about his concept of “zero-waste design” (Photo by the author)

In Hong Kong, @Cirbaf is an enterprise, which focuses on reusing fabrics left over by factories to make baby shoes and accessories. They use organic materials since baby shoes need to be healthy and soft.Baby shoes are designed and manufactured by Cirbaf. Their products are using leftover of organic fabrics from factories. Besides, all products are made by a group of people with disabilities in sheltered workshops run by Po Leung Kuk or St James’ Settlement. They aim to provide employment opportunities for this group of people who are usually ignored by the mainstream job markets. For people with disabilities, they can gain income and realize social values from their own labor input instead of relying on governmental subsidies. It is a tough process to train them to be equipped with manufacturing techniques. So manufacturing procedures cannot be too demanding. However, once they master the technique, each of them will complete each step with their whole heart. Nobody would complain or idle away the time. Many might think that it is hard for people with disabilities to work. There are actually many types of disabilities. As long as one is willing to work, most can qualify for employment.

2015-02 cirbaf

Baby shoes made from unused fabrics by people with disabilities. (Photo by author)


Denim laptop bags made from unused denim fabrics

More and more designers from the west and Hong Kong start to focus on sustainable fashion. Consumers in the west are also getting more aware of this issue. There are many different approaches to support sustainable fashion, zero-waste is just one of them. Others include the use of organic fabrics, and up-cycling techniques, such as, to re-design or re-make second-hand clothing. Simply speaking, sustainable fashion is to design, manufacture and consume fashion in a sustainable way (benefits to the environment, humanity and also labor force). China, as the world manufacturing factory and also the biggest consumer market, actually needs urgent changes in this aspect. We all care about the issue of poisonous air, but actually we are the one who produce the poisonous air. The unsold inventory clothing and the clothes we discarded in daily life mostly end up in landfills, the waste of which is actually one of the major pollutants to air quality. As for labor practices, objectively speaking, China has already improved a lot. This is also why garment manufacturers have gradually moved to Southeast Asian markets which supply cheaper labor. However, it is still hard to say the problems of labor practices are completely solved in China. Both enterprises and designers should take the responsibility to improve the situation of labor practices.

Textile & clothing enterprises and fashion designers in China mustraise awareness on social problems caused by clothing industry, and strengthen their social responsibilities. Unfortunately in China, we tend to blindly take the fashion mode which has already been rejected in the west. For example, “fast fashion” from @H&M, which we have been greatly worshipped by many Chinese enterprises, is actually criticized by most environmental institutions because this mode produced large amounts of waste. Designers shouldn’t just consider uniqueness, aesthetics or quality, but they need also think about whether the fabric they use would affect the environment, whether the fabric quality is durable and whether the labor practices are fair or not. Because designer brands are not cheap, workers also deserve to share a fairly good treatment.

All in all, the sustainable development of clothing industry is the responsibility of every citizen living on this planet.

Fashion II

I arrive in Philadelphia today.


The weather in east coast changes like this. I felt like I needed to wear a feathered coat yesterday but I am wearing a T-shirt today. Spring is so short and summer finally comes.


The new trend now is riding a bike instead of driving a car, which is both healthy and environmental friendly.


I come to Philly to attend a luxury management conference. One advantage academic study has over doing business is that doing academic study allows me to travel around the world and make friends with people from different institutions as long as your thesis or topic is attractive enough. Big companies can also make you travel around the world for free but most people you meet are those working in the same industry. Compared to this, doing academic study is more multiple. Another feature of international fashion study is that people of this subject are still focusing on clothes in China while here you can meet scholars doing laws, sociology, anthropology, management, engineering and even psychology besides fashion. The feature of interdisciplinary study is more obvious.


Philly University also has department of fashion. I come across students from Dong Hua. Their university has exchange programs here. According to the teachers, students from Dong Hua are very hardworking and careful in their working. Basically those I met coming abroad to study fashion are all excellent. Well done.


Sustainable fashion is getting more and more popular in the United States. This series of textiles are made from handmade organic cotton. Almost all people in this industry I met are working on products in similar area. And  my electronic magazine Ethical and Fashion will also launch the English version with the of several foreign friends. Thank my Lord for all your guidance.



The designer for this series is a professor from Medical School in Harvard. Interesting, right? His interest in textiles dates back to the time when he went to Africa for field study on infectious diseases. He discovered that there were many interesting local handmade textiles and then he started to learn by himself. I find the wider one’s interdisciplinary study is, the more innovative it is.


Zara is the biggest garment retailing store in the world. Its inditex CEO’s management strategy is to promote internal competitiveness continuously. Its several brands all work on their own without sharing spending on management and administration. Traditional companies would share spending if belong to one host company, like sharing office. warehouse and administration. But inditex requires complete independence and even competence.

There are several tendency of the development of luxury market. The first is individualized products – especially with the development of 3D technology which enables individualized products. The second is the use of high technology, especially the quick development of internet. The third is the balance between heritage and innovation.

According to one survey, Americans have regarded LV, Chanel, Hermes as aspirational luxury brands, almost the best one could own. Then comes Gucci and Coach, which are considered as affordable luxury. But what is affordable luxury? If it is affordable is it still luxury? Poor Gucci has been so different from its glorious past.

Luxury industry now has a tendency to become too accessible. Some brands which is not regarded as luxury by classical brands now also claim to be luxury. This makes those classical brands very annoyed. For real luxuries, there are several requirements which are necessary. The first is the culture and value accumulated through history and tradition. This is nothing like a simple slogan on magazines and Internet. However, at the same time, luxury brands have to adapt itself to the development of market. This is why many old European brands die out over years. They stick to their so-called value too rigidly. Second is the rarity of the material and technique. Luxury brands all have their special material supply chain. Now they also require unique manufacturing skills and the combination with high technology. The last part is high-end customer service. Designing is obviously very important but now designing has become so irreplaceable in every aspect of the society that it is no longer exclusive to luxury.

From my point of view, in 20 years, competitiveness only depends on two parts – creativity and execution. Many big companies stop when developed to certain stage. Part of the reason is that their success in the past restricts their mind – too dependent on past successful experience. For example, when the industry changes from traditional retailing mode to Internet retailing service, many traditional companies would be left behind. This is not the problem of changing method but rather changing settled notion and ways of thinking. But the most difficult thing for one to change is how to think. In addition, when one company reaches certain scale, the execution will inevitably slow down. As a consequence, there are few big companies surviving for a long time. Most foreign companies lasting for a long time are those medium size controlled by one family. But such companies in China are also hard to survive. People do not have enough tolerance. Brothers, relatives and even couples could turn against each other for money. If so, who else can tolerate and trust. Also Chinese are in lack of security and goal for future development.

EFM – Fashion News Express


Angelina Jolie’s new jewelry line to fund girls’ school in Afghanistan

Jolie partnered up with Procop after meeting him when he designed the engagement ring given to her by Brad Pitt last April. Together, the two have designed a line of jewelry partially inspired by jewels that the actress has worn herself, including a black and gold necklace she donned at the premier of “Salt.” Style of Jolie will also include other fine jewelry such as a cushion cut black necklace, an oversized pear shaped citrine necklace and other rings, earrings and bracelets and will kick off sales on April 4th.

Profits from the collaboration will benefit Education Partnership for Children in Conflict, a charity founded by Jolie in 2010. Jolie, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has already opened two schools for girls in Afghanistan, in areas with high refugee populations.

Jolie and Procop’s altruistic and elegant line will be available first at Kansas City retailer, Tivol, starting this Thursday.

Uber-activist Angelina Jolie plans to open another girls school in Afghanistan, funded by a new jewelry line that will be available this week. Called “Style of Jolie,” Angelina herself had a hand in designing the wares, along with jewelry designer Robert Procop. Sales from the anticipated line will help educate the 200-300 Afghani girls that are enrolled in the school that opened last November, with plans to open more schools in the near future.


6 Celebrities Who Wore Eco-Fashion to the 2013 Oscars

Who says that glamour and sustainability are mutually exclusive? As Tinseltown’s biggest night unfurled on Sunday, any doubt that the two could coexist was put to bed faster than one of Seth McFarlane’s razor-barbed quips. From a doe-eyed triple threat who “dreamed a dream” to a Bond Girl who shook and stirred, here are the marquee names who turned the red carpet green at the 2013 Oscars.


Reigning Best Supporting Actress Anne Hathaway paired her inordinately…um…“perky” Prada dress with custom cruelty-free pumps from Giuseppe Zanotti. Requesting faux-leather kicks from leading footwear designers is becoming an M.O. for the newly vegan actress. Hathaway made her rounds at earlier awards in “veganized” Tom Ford gladiator boots and Jimmy Choo peep-toe heels.


Helen Hunt hit the red carpet not in an overblown confection by Georgio Armani or Dior, but rather an unfussy midnight-blue silk-satin gown from H&M. The Best Supporting Actress nominee didn’t make that decision on a lark. H&M recently named Global Green U.S.A., the American affiliate of Green Cross International and a cause Hunt supports, as the U.S. beneficiary of the retailer’s newly launchedclothing-recycling program. Another connection? Hunt was on the host committee of the nonprofit’s annual pre-Oscar bash, which doubled on Wednesday as a celebration of the partnership.


Skyfall actress Naomie Harris opted for a daringly slit gown by Ghanian designer Michael Badger, winner of this year’s “Red Carpet Green Dress” challenge. Brought to life by Vivienne Westwood’s atelier and the Royal School of Needlework (the same folks who created the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding gown, by the by), the Cradle-to-Cradle-certified number featured Global Organic Textile Standard-certified silk crepe de chine, recycled zippers, vintage glass beads, hand-embroidered chocolate-candy-wrapper embellishments, and a pale mustard hue derived from a natural—and supposedly therapeutic—dye bath of goldenrod and chamomile seeds.


Writer-actress Lianne Spiderbaby,, who saw her date, director Quentin Tarantino, go on to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Django Unchained, wore a hand-beaded, American-madeMara Hoffman gown.


First Lady Michelle Obama made a surprise cameo at theOscars when she appeared via satellite on to announce the nominees for Best Picture. (Argo won, for those keeping score at home.) FLOTUS wore a custom, Art Deco-inspired silver sheath by Indian-born American designer Naeem Khan, whose designs are chiefly manufactured in the United States. If the dress looks familiar, your eyes don’t deceive you. Obama wore the same outfit to the governors’ dinner at the White House earlier that evening—all the better to multitask, of course.


Livia Firth had a relatively mellow Oscars night. The Eco Age creative director, who co-founded the“Green Carpet Challenge” in 2010 to raise sustainable fashion’s profile on the Hollywood red carpet, skipped the bright lights of The Dolby Theatre for the 21st Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party in West Hollywood Park. Mrs. Colin Firth, whose husband was away shooting a movie, appeared in a Grace Kelly-inspired dress by New Zealand-born designer Emilia Wickstead, who used fully traceable GOTS-certified silk organza.



H&M still worlds no.1 buyer of organic cotton

As the biggest global user of certified-organic cotton for the second year running, H&M has plenty to crow about. The revelation comes courtesy of Textile Exchange, a nonprofit organization whose Organic Cotton Market Report looks back on 2011 as a “year of contradictions” filled with peaks and valleys. Among the high points? H&M, which not only maintained its position as the No. 1 buyer of certified-organic cotton but also increased its use of the white stuff by nearly 100 percent in 2011.

The Swedish fast-fashion retailer began using organic cotton in earnest in 2004. Three years later, it offered its first 100 percent organic-cotton garments, followed by the semi-regular Conscious Collection in 2011. Organic cotton, according to Textile Exchange, now represents 7.6 percent of H&M’s total cotton use. Combined with expected future growth in the use of “Better Cotton”, the company says it’s on track to sourcing 100 percent of its cotton from “more sustainable” sources by 2020.
H&M, organic cotton, Textile Exchange, H&M Conscious, Conscious Collection, Henrik Lampa, better cotton, Better Cotton Initiative, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, eco-friendly textiles, sustainable textiles, eco-textiles

“We congratulate H&M for again leading the list of the biggest users of certified organic cotton in the world,” says LaRhea Pepper, managing director of Textile Exchange. “H&M’s ambitious program continues to drive demand for organic cotton and other more sustainable fibres. This supports farmers, encourages innovation and with its fashion-forward Conscious Collections, H&M lifts more sustainable fashion to scale. This strategic work serves as a model for adopting and expanding the use of greener materials in the fashion industry.”

As a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, an initiative whose partners include the World Wildlife Fund and Solidaridad, H&M has invested more than €2 million in helping hundreds of thousands of cotton farmers grow their crops with less water, fewer chemicals, and greater dignity.

The road to healthier cotton hasn’t hasn’t always been easy, but H&M says it wants to make the environmentally friendly option an accessible alternative. “We plan to further increase our use of organic cotton in the future, beside making strong investments in Better Cotton and gradually increasing our use of recycled cotton,” says Henrik Lampa, sustainability manager product at H&M. “Cotton is the raw material we use the most and our good progress against our goal means major improvements for people and the environment in cotton-producing communities.”



Healthy Food in Fashion: Gala Raises Funds to Feed NYC Schoolchildren

The New York Coalition for Healthy School Food held a fundraiser on Wednesday at the New York Academy of Medicine, a magnificent old medical library with engraved wood details, shelves of handsome book spines up to the ceiling, warm wood furniture, and moody lighting. Situated throughout the space, models glowed under spotlights, styled by designers in cutting-edgesustainable fashion. The crowd mingled, enjoying the fashion presentation, a silent auction, as well as delectable plant-based food and cocktails crafted by sponsoring restaurants and student chefs from Food and Finance High School. “Healthy Food in Fashion” was hosted by the infamous radio personality Robin Quivers, and by the end of the event, crucial funds were raised for their groundbreaking work on behalf of New York schoolchildren.

Besides feting vegan treats from 24 vendors, the evening also showcased designers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Heather Mills, VPL by Victoria Bartlett, John Bartlett, Novacas for Brave GentleMan, Thieves by Sonja den Elzen, Olsenhaus, Angelrox, Cri de Coeur,DLC Brooklyn, Vaute Couture, GUNAS, and Study NY by Tara St. James. The models were all gracious volunteers, cast by model agent and activist Valerie Oula, with hair and makeup by a team of Aveda students under the direction of Eden Di Bianco, a cruelty-free hair and makeup artist and stylist.

Healthy food for school kids in New York (and everywhere) is as much a no-brainer as an ethical and sustainable fashion industry. Both of these things seem like common sense, and even from the most selfish and purely economic perspective, these goals are about maximizing longevity, minimizing enormous expenses, and preventing major problems down the road.

From a compassionate and revolutionary perspective, these ideals represent a cultural shift from one that prioritizes the cheapest and easiest profits at any cost to one of intelligent, careful, thorough, and compassionate planning that maximizes long-term well-being without compromising taste or pleasure.

The NYCHSF is revolutionizing the way schools feed children. Traditionally, children are fed a highly processed, meat- and cheese-based diet that strongly resembles fast food. The NYCHSF is changing that by not only developing and introducing healthy homemade vegetarian entrees, but also by training cafeteria staff and management, school officials, parents, teachers, and children to focus on healthier, delicious plant-based food. Healthy food truly was in fashion at this amazing event!



Stewart Brown: Does “Made in China” Clothing Get an Unfairly Bad Rap?

To answer bluntly, yes, China does get an unfair rap due to various health, human-rights, and environmental issues that have surfaced over the years, along with recent anti-fast-fashionsentiment. This is also a question we asked ourselves before Stewart + Brown, which is produced mostly in the United States, embarked on working with Chinese production facilities for some of our knits. Through our research, as well as personal experience, we discovered that with the bad also comes the good.


The best advice we can give regarding the ethics of buying clothing manufactured in China is for customers to do some due diligence on what goes on behind the “Made in China” label on their would-be purchase. Every company operates differently.

At Stewart + Brown, we value our Chinese vendors for their centuries-old wisdom, expertise, andpride in craftsmanship. We’ve visited and continue to check in with the factories we work with in China on a regular basis. Our partners are family-run businesses that follow very stringent regulations and labor practices, while maintaining the cleanest working conditions.


Minimizing our impact on the environment and treating people with dignity are two of our brand’s precepts. Our factories in China operate according to fair-trade guidelines, just like the ones we work with in the United States and Mongolia. This means that all factories are required to:

1. Create a safe, non-hazardous, and productive environment for all workers, including access to first aid and the eschewal of toxic carcinogens.

2. Treat labor in a fair way, which includes providing clean working environments, restrooms, regular breaks, fair and regulated wages, and overtime pay. And absolutely no underage labor.

3. Adhere to environmental regulations including treating and purifying all waste water, recycling raw materials when possible, and no illegal waste dumping.


One of our factories in China is the very same one that Patagonia uses for its production. Patagonia probably has one of the most stringent environmental and fair-labor rules in the entire apparel industry.

Another interesting piece of info is that this facility is actually one of China’s first-ever “green” factories. The owner, who is also a personal friend, worked with the Chinese government to establish a new protocol for eco-friendly apparel-factory conditions. This particular factory, not only adheres toCSCC standards, but it also uses solar power, as well.

In short, for good or for ill, there is no one-size-fits-all box for made-in-China manufacturing. It’s up to us to be educated consumers, to make mindful purchases, and to support companies that are operating in an ethical and conscious manner, no matter where that may be.



EFM – Sustainable Fashion


Translated/ Edited by Sherry Chen


A Final Embrace

Many powerful photographs have been made in the aftermath of the devastating collapse of a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. But one photo, by Bangladeshi photographer Taslima Akhter, has emerged as the most heart wrenching, capturing an entire country’s grief in a single image.

“I have been asked many questions about the photograph of the couple embracing in the aftermath of the [Rana Plaza building] collapse [in Bangladesh]. I have tried desperately, but have yet to find any clues about them…Every time I look back to this photo, I feel uncomfortable—it haunts me. It’s as if they are saying to me, we are not a number—not only cheap labor and cheap lives. We are human beings like you. Our life is precious like yours, and our dreams are precious, too.

They are witnesses in this cruel history of workers being killed. The death toll is now more than [1,127]. What a harsh situation we are in, where human beings are treated only as numbers.

This photo is haunting me all the time. If the people responsible don’t receive the highest level of punishment, we will see this type of tragedy again. There will be no relief from these horrific feelings. I’ve felt a tremendous pressure and pain over the past two weeks surrounded by dead bodies. As a witness to this cruelty, I feel the urge to share this pain with everyone. That’s why I want this photo to be seen.”

Shahidul Alam, Bangladeshi photographer, writer and founder of Pathshala, the South Asian Institute of Photography, said of the photo: “This image, while deeply disturbing, is also hauntingly beautiful. An embrace in death, its tenderness rises above the rubble to touch us where we are most vulnerable. By making it personal, it refuses to let go. This is a photograph that will torment us in our dreams. Quietly it tells us. Never again.”



The Shadow Unseen

It’s not saying that we should never buy new clothes because we certainly do. Some people still buy well-made dresses and tailored jackets but more and more we should be conscious of where the clothes are from and the impact they have had both sociologically and environmentally on the planet.

Jo Wood, activist and promoter of ethical fashion, said, “I am a total organic, live a strict an organic lifestyle and am passionate about being aware of where food, cosmetics, and clothes have come from. The more I have explored the path that consumables have taken to reach their buyers, the more concerned I have become about the ethical state we find ourselves in.”

Over 90 million items of clothing are thrown away each year in UK alone. It seems to have become a habitual pleasure to throw something away and go straight back to the shops for more. Part of the cause of this problem is with the major distributors battling to provide the cheapest possible price for their consumer.


Garment workers throughout the globe are traditionally paid the minimum wage and work long hours in substandard, environmentally hostile conditions in order to produce the clothes that we take for granted. In the developing world, countries such as Indonesia and China mass-produce enough clothes to reach to the moon and back every day. This routine production and exploitation in the name of fashion means we can buy a new T-shirt for 50p while retailers reap huge profits from these suffering workers.

Over two thirds of the world’s cotton is grown in developing countries and the former Soviet Union. Valued at over $32 billion every year, global cotton production should be improving lives. But this “white gold” too often brings misery. Along with the poverty and appalling working conditions created, the impact environmentally is enormously detrimental due to the chemicals used and the vast distances these items have to travel to get to the future buyers.

The problems don’t stop there.

Discarded clothing and shoes are typically sent to landfill. There, textiles present particular problems. Synthetic products do not decompose. Woollen garments do, but in doing so they produce methane, which contributes to global warming and climate change.

At a time when the issue of global waste is on the political lips of leaders all over the world it is time to decide how we can do our bit. In a very basic sense it means that we take into account worker’s rights, social justice and environmental issues. Ethical fashion is about being creative and embracing eclectic style. It’s about cutting up an old T-shirt, some old jeans or a dress that’s been hiding for years to give it new life. Dusting off those belts and hats. It’s about being cautious about what you throw away; it’s about wearing fashion that respects our planet; it’s about creating a demand for ethical products so big fashion houses rethink their strategy. Ethical fashion is about buying garments from suppliers you can trust. Ethical fashion has cool scribbled all over it.

The chance to make a big change is here; we just need to take it.



Green Fashion Is More Than a Passing Trend

In a society obsessed with instant gratification, novelty, and conspicuous consumption, it’s easy to dismiss fashion design as frivolous. Skirt lengths and platform heights appear inconsequential when juxtaposed with real-world concerns like climate change, economic strife, water shortages, and hunger and malnutrition. But if you consider the fact that clothing is something we envelope our bodies in every single day, to ignore the apparel industry’s environmental and social impact would be negligent, not to mention foolhardy.

$2 billion of hazardous pesticides are used every year to grow cotton—more than any other agricultural crop.

Clothing uses more water than any other industry besides agriculture. Conventional cotton, which is grown in more than 70 countries and comprises almost 50 percent of textiles worldwide, also happens to be the most toxic crop in the world. Roughly $2 billion of hazardous chemical pesticides are released into the air every year, accounting for 16 percent of global insecticides—more than any other agricultural crop. (To put this in context, it takes about a third of a pound of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to grow enough cotton for a T-shirt.) The World Health Organization estimates that at least 3 million people are poisoned by pesticides every year, resulting in 220,000 deaths worldwide annually. In rural communities, where poverty prevents farm workers from taking the necessary precautions, miscarriages, premature births, and sickly children are ubiquitous.

Like any good product design, clothing production can be accomplished in a better, smarter, and more socially and environmentally sustainable way.

We seek to change people’s minds about what “fashion” design entails beyond fleeting fads and mindless consumerism. Like any good product design, clothing production can be accomplished in a better, smarter, and more socially and environmentally sustainable way. And we’re not the only ones who think so. Organic clothing, produced without toxic pesticides and dipped in low-impact dyes, is gaining popularity across the globe. In 2006, retail sales of organic cotton products reached $1.1 billion globally—85 percent higher than the year before, according to the Organic Exchange. Organic cotton is by no means alone on the playing field. With improved technology, other strange and wonderful eco-fabrics have entered the fray, from salmon leather to fiber derived from milk.

We’re excited about the future of fashion design and think that it’s time for hardcore fashionistas and hardcore greenies alike to start paying attention to eco-fashion—and, more important, start engaging in dialogue with one other. We hope that we will provide that forum, paving the way to a smarter, more sustainable future.


Eco Fashion

Eco fashion is a generic term that can mean many things. To us, eco fashion is a holistic concept that refers to all fashion products that have been created in such a way as to contribute to a healthier and more equal world. On this website we use several criteria to differentiate products in our guide. For a more in-depth look at these concepts, check out our Glossary section.

Vegan: Products that have been made without the use of leather or animal tissue products. Examples are shoes and bags made from “vegetal leather” using Amazonian rubber instead of animal skins or other recycled or man-made materials.

Ethically Produced: Ethical fashion is fashion that has been produced with respect for people and the environment. Although there are existing certifications for Organic and Fair Trade, we want to encourage companies who are taking significant action but don’t qualify for certification. This might include companies producing locally or on small scales in developed countries, who might not qualify for Fair Trade certification or companies working with farmers to transition to sustainable crops but who might not yet qualify as Organic (which takes a few years). The “Ethic Chic” section of each brand profile should have details on the specific steps of the brand’s ethical production.

Craft/Artisan: Products that have been crafted using artisan skills such as embroidery, which preserve the perpetuation of ancestral traditions.

Custom: Also called demi-couture or made-to-order. This is a way of encouraging quality and “slow fashion” over mass-produced disposable fashion.

Fair Trade Certified: An organized movement that promotes standards for international labor (such as reasonable work hours, no child labor, the right to unionize, a fair living wage), environmentalism, and social policy in areas related to production of goods. Fair Trade focuses on exports from developing countries to developed countries. Some Fair Trade certification organizations include: FLO, IFAT, TransFair (Canada and US)

Organic: Natural fibers that have been grown without any pesticides and other toxic materials, preserving the health of humans and the environment. The process of organic growth can be certified by various organizations.

Recycled: Anything that has been made from already existing materials, fabrics, metals or fibers. These are often reclaimed from previously made clothing and accessories and reworked into new ones. Fibers can also be re-purposed from pre-existing fabric, re-spun and reused for new garments.

Vintage/Second-Hand: Vintage is a generic term for new or second-hand garments created in the period from the 1920’s to 1975. However, the term is often used more generally for second-hand clothes or up-cycled clothes (second-hand clothes that have been given a new life through some sort of customization).


Supporting Ethical Fashion on a Tight Budget

Many of us want to make a difference but can’t afford a $200 sweater to wear with $185 jeans. Here are some ideas to help you make the most ethical choices with your budget. It can be easy to use money as an excuse for making unethical purchases, but with creativity and planning you can use our purchase power to help make the world better.


Buy less. This simple truth is that we all have more clothes than we need. By committing to buy one ethical shirt instead of two cheaper ones, for example, we can make a positive impact on the supply chain and reign in our consumption. If you’re really ready to rethink your consumption, you can look over your whole budget for places to cut or redirect your spending.

Shop thrift. It takes a little work and a bit of commitment, but you can find fashionable, very affordable clothes at thrift stores. Even if your thrift store treasures were made by exploited people, you’ve saved them from the trash and reduced the consumer demand for new clothes.

Try your hand at homemade. This is for the really adventurous. It may be a challenge to find ethically sourced fabrics, but if you sew your own clothes, you always know exactly how the seamstress was treated. Plus, your stuff will be one of a kind.

While ethical products will always be a bit more expensive than less ethical ones, increased demand will help lower the costs. You likely won’t be able to totally revamp your spending all at once, but that’s okay. Positive progress is a process. Do what you can and don’t be discouraged.



Final Remarks


Being the first magazine in Asia that focuses on sustainable fashion, we hope to eventually promote fashion ethics and keep you updated with the latest news on ethical fashion.

Let us start with small steps, and take our responsiblity for our planet and our own lives.



National Association of Sustainable Fashion Designers (SFD)