Week3 Ethical consumerism

While thinking about ethical topics in fashion area, many Regrettable issues are found out which are sweatshop, animal abuse, child labour, poor working condition, environmental destruction, counterfeiting and more. Actually, fashion and environmental protection are seem to be in the opposite. Fashion is short life cycle from the recent season to the next season and some cheap clothes especially from fast fashion shops are disposal. (Cervellon, 2012)

One of the prevalent ethical consumerism activity is a consumer boycott. In an extreme logic, to let consumers buy clothes as few as they can is one of the solution to avoid these issues but as a worker in fashion industry, it is a hard situation for the business because it will discontinue the consumption cycle then it lead the decline of fashion industry. Keeping the balance between activation of fashion industry and being ethical company or consumer is always problematic challenge.

Organic cotton is known as the one of eco-friendly fibre. Organic fibre grows “without restricted synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, growth regulators or defoliants.” (Fletcher, 2012)  Choosing organic cotton instead of other cotton is expected to keep away from the human body contamination and soil pollution caused by chemical fertilizer. Otherwise, returning to an organic farm from a regular farm takes long time and avoiding to use fertilizers reduce crop yields so organic cotton is more expensive than regular cotton. As a result, many consumer choose regular cotton products even organic cotton products seem to be much more morally right.  According to my experience in women clothes company, organic cotton T-shirts was not success like regular cotton T-shirts in the sales. In contrast, lyocell T- shirts made big sales even though it was more expensive than regular cotton T-shirts. Lyocell is one of another eco-friendly fibre made by pulp. Costumers said lyocell T- shirts was more expensive but really comfortable to wear and looks elegant so it was worth as the price besides organic cotton was not looks elegant because of thread clause it had then not seemed as worth as the price. Several consumers give priority to practical benefits and practicality and ethical mind would follow later.

Eco- bag movement from Anya Hindmarch was succeeded ethical consumerism in environmental studies.

“Hindmarch launched her now-famous canvas “eco-tote” emblazoned with the slogan “I’m Not a Plastic Bag”. The limited edition bag, which cost just £5, was intended as a replacement for plastic bags. When it was seen dangling from the arms of Keira Knightley and the model Lily Cole, all 20,000 of the first run sold out in an hour, and within days they were trading on eBay for more than £200.” (Nikkhah, 2009)

eco bag

BBC NEWS MAGAZINE (2007) It’s in the bag, darling[Online image]. Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6587169.stm [Accessed 23/10/13]

The number was not only shows in the sales but also in the number of reducing plastic bags.

“The impact of Hindmarch’s initiative has been huge. Statistics from Wrap, the Government’s anti-waste body, show that shops gave out 3.5 billion fewer plastic bags last year, with the number of plastic bags dispensed falling from 13.4 billion in 2007 to 9.9 billion last year” ( Nikkhah, 2009)

It was different approach to consumers. She pushed environmental issue up to fashion trend and caused that she changed ethical consumerism for general fashion consumers which was done by only activists.

Reasonable trendy bag from famous brand made big sales but how they made it in £5? There seems other ethical issue under the table but Hindmarch said it was. “Typical tabloid hot air.”

“Hindmarch dismisses the negative coverage she received soon afterwards, when it emerged that the bags were made by cheap labour in China, and not with Fairtrade cotton. “Typical tabloid hot air,” she says. “We were upfront from the start that in order to stay within our cost limit, we weren’t going to be able to manufacture the bags in Britain, and we offset all the carbon output from production. And don’t forget we made a loss on every bag. The factory workers were paid double their usual wage, and the factory is checked all the time because it is used by some of the world’s biggest companies. I’m proud of what we did. It made a difference.” (Nikkhah, 2009)

Actually, the bag got into other issue. The bag was limited edition and also popular in the world so there are various replicas in a black market.

“Within 24 hours a Chinese woman married her prince wearing a replica of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. Many fashion designers are monitoring what Kate Middleton is wearing so they can produce replica fashion creations. This phenomenon is not new. Copies of Red Carpet fashions (e.g. Golden Globes, the Emmys and the Oscars)are sold as wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses, cocktail dresses, prom gowns or ball gowns, and are quickly distributed to the market after such events”(Miller, 2013)

img-kate-middleton-wedding-dress_075548914142_jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2

VOGUE DAILY (2011) Catherine Middleton and her sister, Pippa Middleton [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.vogue.com/vogue-daily/article/kate-middletons-wedding-dress/#1 [Accessed 23/10/13]

This is typical story about counterfeiting but there are a large amount of replicas not only in the black market. Most of trend for next season is recognised from the runway of world famous brand collection. Fast fashion companies often use these design details and use it for their design sauce.  Sometime we can find new trend design before the original product would be appeared in the shop. Education for copy products boycott of luxury brands are slightly expanded by customs control but clothes copies are difficult to recognize.

Companies try to produce clothes and fashion goods quickly and reasonable as demanding of customers but  they also need to mention that reading consumer psychology and predicting consumer behaviour then approaching to consumer with back ground information will guide smart consumer to a right purchasing without losing sales for a company.

Reference

Cervellon, M.C. and Wernerfelt, A.S. (2012) Knowledge sharing among green fashion communities online Lessons for the sustainable supply chain. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 16(2), pp. 176 – 192.

Fletcher, K and Grose, L (2012) Fashion & Sustainability: Design for Change, London, Laurence King.

Miller, K. (2013) Hedonic customer responses to fast fashion and replicas. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 17(2), pp160-174

Nikkhah, R. (2009) Anya Hindmarch: bag lady with a £20m empire [Online] Telegraph. Available from: http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/news-features/TMG5178887/Anya-Hindmarch-bag-lady-with-a-20m-empire.html [Accessed 23/10/13]

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