What is Ethical Fashion, and Why Is It Important?

What is Ethical Fashion, and Why Is It Important?

Ethical fashion is a term that we widely use interchangeably with “eco-fashion” “sustainable fashion” and “green fashion”. But do they really all mean the same thing?

Not quite. While all of the terms above are working towards the same goal of improving the fashion industry, they are slightly different in meaning. Words like “eco”, “sustainable” and “green” fashion generally refer to the environmental impact of the fashion industry.  However, “ethical fashion” generally refers to the social impact of the fashion industry.

In this sense, ethical fashion is about producing, selling and consuming fashion in the most humane and ethical way possible. So what exactly are the “ethics” behind fashion?

What is Ethical Fashion, and Why Is It Important?


Ethical fashion is rooted in transparency. 77% of leading UK retailers admit that there is a likelihood of modern slavery in their supply chains. How is this possible? Because the globalised supply chains of production in the fashion industry are so complex and murky. As a result, it can be nearly impossible to keep track of who is doing what. If you don’t know where your clothes are actually being made, how can you be sure they are being made ethically? You simply can’t. That is why transparency is at the heart of ethical fashion.

Fair Wages

Ethical Fashion requires brands to treat their garment workers fairly and pay them a fair living wage. Unfortunately, garment workers around the world are often exploited and underpaid for their work. Even here in the UK, it was revealed that garment workers were paid as little as £3.50 an hour. For clothing to be “ethical”, everyone throughout the entire supply chain – from cotton to sales- must benefit from fair wages. 

Safe Working Conditions

In addition to fair wages, fashion labels must give safe and humane working conditions to everyone throughout their entire production process. Unfortunately, many of the factories where high-street clothing is produced lack proper facilities and infrastructure. This was seen with the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza factory which claimed the lives of over 1,300 garment workers in Bangladesh. No worker should have to risk their life or well-being for fashion.

Care for our Environment

While ethical fashion is more human-focused than “green” or “eco” fashion, it doesn't mean that environmental impact doesn't feature. Ethical fashion can be considerate of the environment by adopting the “slow fashion” philosophy. Creating smaller, more versatile wardrobe pieces while championing for more considerate, meaningful and ethical clothing industry.

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