In ideal world we would all love to be able to ditch the term ‘ethical fashion’, ‘eco fashion’ ‘sustainable fashion’ or whatever you want to call it safe in the knowledge that all clothing is made with respect for people and planet. Fashion could just be fashion.
But before we get into a deep debate over what is ‘ethical fashion’ and whether fashion can ever be ethical, (it means different things, to different people, right?) I would first like to consider what do we actually mean by the word ‘mainstream’. Of course we would all love for ethics in the fashion industry to become the norm, wouldn’t we? but according to the Urban Dictionary, these top 2 definitions of mainstream are the absolute opposite of what many of us want from our fashion
1. Mainstream is what’s the new trend. when one “style” gets old, a new one is reborn, a mainstream person is someone who jumps from trend to trend so that they fit in with the rest of the crowd. Mainstream is being what society thinks you should be, and look like.
2. A gigantic brainwashing cover that the media and the government uses to blindly mislead people into all going the same way.
The other problem that I have with discussions over main streaming ethical fashion is that ‘ethical fashion’ is, as we know, not something that people deliberately look to buy, therefore it seems unlikely that it will ever become ‘mainstream’, if indeed we wanted to to anyway. Language plays such an important part in what we are trying to say and do, but it can all get a little bit confusing sometimes can’t it?
At Style-is.co.uk, we think that people want buy clothing that looks amazing from brands that they love, the ethics side seems to be an additional requirement rather than a want. We also think that they want to do their own thing rather than following the crowd (if that is what they want).
Perhaps ethical fashion isn’t going mainstream and won’t go mainstream in the near future because no one has an interest in it as a collective term, and perhaps we don’t really want it to anyway. But ethics in the fashion industry could become the norm as individual brands that can give consumers what they want whilst being ethical and sustainable become increasingly popular and brands create their own individual following/ community or even movement, in a way they are carving out their own niche.
There are a few amazing ethical fashion brands, I’m thinking People Tree and Toms shoes to start with (but there are many more), that are really leading the way and have shown it is entirely possible to cross over that line. But perhaps their secret lies in the beautiful clothes that they have to offer, along with the ability to tell their story well and create something that people can identify and engage with rather than being reliant on just being labelled as ‘ethical’.
OK it is all getting a bit heavy, perhaps we should just drop the terms ‘ethical fashion’ and ‘mainstream’ for now and chill out a bit!
All of the brands on style-is.co.uk are selected for their amazing style as well as being sustainable/ ethical in some way, so we hope that you can get on and do what you love best, checking out the amazing styles and stories (on the brand pages), which no doubt you will love because they are a bit ‘different’ and ‘individual’ rather than ‘mainstream’.
So what do you think? I would love to know
With warmest wishes
Print addict, blogger and founder of style-is.co.uk