London Indymedia

Ethical fashion debated or not at Ethical Fashion Source Summit Friday 12th of J

planB4fashion ( | 11.07.2013 18:16 | Culture | Globalisation | Other Press | London | World

What's missing from this government-subsidised list of what "ethical fashion" means?
- Fair Trade (or ethical trading), the second one would be
- Organic, manmade, bio-degradable fabrics, and the third is
- Recycling and upcycling.

Sometimes, seeing the person who disagrees with you can show more about the disagreement than reading about them. You can like them more as a person, and hear their off-the-cuff comments: what comes into their head first is probably what's most important to them.

A trade show by "Ethical Fashion Forum" who's directorship and addresses overlap with Nike consultants and part of London Fashion Week called Esthetica, is staging "masterclass", "networking", and "expert" discussions on Friday 12th at the Chrystal Conference centre next to London's cable cars in Docklands. The directors also overlap with various Defra and London College of Fashion initiatives and events, the largest of which called Creative Connexions used 80% of an available higher education budget to indroduce UK designers with Chinese manufacturers.

One former director of Ethical Fashion Forum is still co-curator of the state-subsidised London Fashion Week, in its ethical section called Esthetica. A video to rather catchy music shows an interview with her four years ago. Two minutes into the video, she states that ethical fashion to her (and she decides in this show) are threefold.

"Fair trade (or ethcal trading)"
"Organic, manmade, or biodegradable fabrics" and
"Recycling and upcyclling"...

No mention is made of what government can do in far eastern countries to improve transparency, democracy, or services like schools, hospitals, or inspections of unsafe factories by changing tariffs or adding more conditions to aid.

No mention is made of what government in the UK and other countries has done in the form of a welfare state - potentially a sales point for fashion that's made in countries like the UK, or a turn-off if buyers look at the extra price. This is strange in a taxpayer-funded event like London Fashion Week which is backed by taxpayers through Greater London Authority and the Department for Business's UK Trade and Investment.

No mention is made of the unfair relationship between workers in the UK, who's work is overpriced because of the cost of a welfare state, and workers in Bangladesh, who's work is underpriced because of the absence of a welfare state.

With luck, those who attend the £225 trade show from "the industry body for ethical fashion" will find an answer from people like Orsulana de Castro and consultants to Nike who are running the show; if not, maybe the public will tire of subsidising organisations like Esthetica at London Fashion Week and the overlapping Ethical Fashion Forum and Ethical Fashion Consultancy Ltd, and Defra payments to Monsoon to promote Indian textiles regardless of whether any indian state has free schools and hospitals.

Video link - see from 2 minutes for an interview with Orsulana de Castro

Transcript of video link - see below

My name is Orsulana de Castro and I am founder and co-curator or Esthetica, as well as designer for this label - "From Somewhere".

There are three main principals to ethical fashion. So the first one would be
Fair Trade (or ethical trading), the second one would be
Organic, manmade, bio-degradable fabrics, and the third is
Recycling and upcycling.
We are seeing the public really wanting to make a change, and wanting to utilise fashion to make a concious - physically concious - change.

We're been sponsored by Monsoon and 2009 is the fifth season, I think, that we are sponsored by Monsoon. It started off with mere financials ... but it has been wonderfull to see them grow in the project... This season for example they are doing a project with London College of Fashion and Defra, using designers in India, highlighting Indian textiles.

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Nothing like a welfare state was mentioned - except in feedback from readers!

12.07.2013 18:05

Ethical Fashion Forum's Call to Action does their usual thing of saying that they are a forum, they work with everyone, please join us, they support what everyone is doing, etc etc.

The Ethical Fashion Source Summit trade show completes without the words "Welfare State" mentioned in any video that I watched, nor anything similar such as national insurance, NHS, benefits, voluntary systems like the Sidi Trust in the far east that are nearly universal. No.

Except in feedback from readers: ... allows staff of ASDA, your local ethical fashion boutique, or anyone who is interested to suggest who should do what about Raza Plaza and the majority of headings collated from their own documents by Ethical Fashion Forum were about government action. The results were read-out so quickly I needed shorthand to jot them down, but this is the best I could manage. They were in two lists of seven and ten.

List one
1 international accord on fire...(?)
2 pressure on government of bangladesh (? not stated if tariff or withdrawal of aid)
3 investment in supplier factories by buyers
4 short and long term compensation of factory workers by buyers
5 pressure towards the minimum wage already promised by govt. of Bangladesh when negotiating 0% tariff access to European Union
6 Trade Unions allowed with or without employers permission, as above
7 Pressure - (?)

List two
1 Transparency and tracability in supply chains or large buyers/sellers of clothes
2 Collaboration between traders
3 Audit
4 Purchasing
5 Protect, respect, remidy
6 Worker engagement (a speaker from Asda said more about this later)
7 Information & training for managers who import clothing from countries like Bangladesh
8 Incentives; paying suppliers to do better than the minimum
9 laws in west
10 business leverage by significant western buyers over sellers in the east.

A speaker from Asda later raised points about the three main parties in a clothing deal, which he defined as the factory workers, the factory manager, and Asda including himself, his boss, shareholders and customers lumped together in one. I didn't note his speech but it might be on video.

No speaker mentioned welfare benefits in Bangladesh, or equality before the law, or accessable schooling, or pensions, or hospitals. Not one in the whole £225 day of speeeches (reduced to £69 for members of some organisations)

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Directions to the 2014 Ethical Fashion Source Summit at EC2A 3EA

18.07.2014 16:33 gives directions to EC2A 3AA via this link: 3EA&type_destination=stop' target='_blank'

Parkopedia is probably worth a look if you are driving.

The odd thing about the venue is the name, the Human Rights Action Centre. It's the office block where Amnesty International has some space.

What would help human rights around the world is
(1) a welfare state in countries like Bangladesh, or some such
(2) legal and democratic rights alongside
(3) tariffs used by richer countries as a threat to make sure this happens
(4) encouragement to people who buy products from countries with good human and practical rights.

Ethical Fashion Forum make opposite statements on their web site.

They still urge people not to buy products from the UK on ethical grounds. Even though some of their members are proud to produce in the UK, the page stays on their web site.

They still urge people to buy products from poor countries if there is some other vague "sustainable" or "ethical" label, or just argue for free trade in general, depending on which part of their web site you read.

Oh and they still oppose wearing of microfibre by vegans as not "environmentally sustainable".

I hope Ethical Fashion Forum change all the statements on their web site to reflect any new interest in human rights.

Directions to the 2014 summit from journeyplanner


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