How Ethical Are You When It Comes To Fashion?

by Arash Mazinani on March 2, 2011

I decided to put the ball in your court with this post. I had intended to write a big post on the ins and outs of ethical fashion but it still would be centred around where I stand rather than encompassing the general mood. This post was first inspired by Fuyume’s post on fur, but I wanted to go beyond just fur. The reason I wanted to go beyond fur was mainly influenced on my own opinions on the whole ethical debate.

 

I guess you can say I’m pretty neutral when it comes to ethical fashion. The way I see it I probably would not wear fur mainly because it doesn’t appeal to me. However, I’m more than happy to wear leather items and I wouldn’t turn my head about someone wearing silk. As this is my position I’d rather not speak out about fur because I feel you can only justify it if you go the whole hog. I mean they boil silk worms in their cocoons before unravelling them to use in silk garments.

 

But the majority of us, not all, seem to turn a blind eye to leather or never even consider how we get silk. Maybe it’s because we are so used to cows being used for meat and leather being less ‘luxury’ than fur. Maybe it’s the ‘cute’ factor I mean a cow is hardly as cute as a rabbit or a chinchilla. Then you have a silk worm, a grub that many would probably shudder at. That’s why I don’t really pass comment on those that choose to wear fur as I’d personally feel hypocritical.

Fancy a Chinchilla coat? He doesn't look too pleased!

 

That’s before you even consider the conditions of those making your clothes. Surely if you care about the welfare of animals you should also consider the welfare of the people involved in the production process. It’s been exposed on TV before the less than acceptable conditions the workers for Primark endure. I imagine it’s the same for mainly other fashion retailers who employ 3rd world labour to ensure ridiculous markups.

 

Anyway I digress…. so I’d love to hear;

How ethical are you when it comes to fashion?


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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

fuyume March 2, 2011 at 5:36 pm

good post some interesting points there tho i dont wear silk either – i’ve actually got another ethical fashion post going live tonight so stay tuned :)

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Arash Mazinani March 2, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I will most definitely check it out. Thanks for commenting :-).

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Fabienne Jach March 2, 2011 at 8:52 pm

I describe myself as a sometime carnivorous pescetarian with vegan ethics. It sounds like it would make no sense at all until I clarify. Starting around age 12, I experimented with vegetarianism which led to becoming a vegan for over 15 years and a pescetarian for about another 7. I only recently started experimenting with eating fowl and red meat. Personally, I find both the fur industry and factory farming appalling.

When I was a vegan I wore non-leather for a number of years. I was not comfortable with the shoe options and started incorporating leather again, justifying it by telling myself people eat the meat, it doesn’t go to waste. Strictly for health reasons I had to consider eating animal products again. It was traumatic at first but like most humans capable of adapting, I knew I could and eventually did.

My dietary choices have been mirrored by my fashion choices. Though I may not necessarily condone it, I have made peace with the general status quo. I find that practicing mindfulness with regards to both keeps me on a path that continues to strive towards a higher ethic. At no point have I preached to anyone, I understand the multiple levels of hypocrisy that exist, absolute abstinence is impossible and I hold every life form with certain regard. I’m that girl that grabs a spider by the hand and tosses it outdoors without killing it.

That mouthful translates to: I do my best, I try to choose carefully how I incorporate animal products into my life, I don’t pass judgement. I haven’t even touched on where clothes are fabricated, that’s a whole other thing that I would like to pay more attention to. Baby steps!

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Arash Mazinani March 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

That’s awesome to find that out about you as I mentioned everyone is different and has different views. You can beat a leather shoe though ;-).

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Fashnlvr March 2, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Wow – way to make me feel guilty as I sit here in my 100% silk blouse, leather stilettos and leather jacket. I wear thrifted fur – I don’t buy it new. I would not personally treat an animal cruelly nor do I step on worms. I am more concerned that those laboring to create garments are treated fairly.
People matter more to me than animals or insects in the grand scheme of things.
http://www.fashnlvr.blogspot.com

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Arash Mazinani March 3, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Again love the response Yvonne thanks for commenting. Lol I didn’t mean to make you feel bad just to put things in perspective and also get my point across.

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Casee Marie March 3, 2011 at 12:58 am

I love that you’re starting some conversation on this topic. I honestly don’t put ethics into fashion; it might sound a little over-the-top, but I respond to fashion emotionally and just go from there. If I like something then I like it, and if it’s leather…well, that’s how it goes. I have a few faux fur things, but otherwise I’m not really partial to the look so I don’t wear that anyway. But I don’t have a massive wardrobe so if I have animal products, they’re few and well-adored. I love animals, though, and I’m a bit more ethical when it comes to diet.

Thanks for this post! It’s interesting to see where everyone stands on the subject.

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Arash Mazinani March 3, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Definitely interesting to see where everyone stands on the subject. Thanks for commenting Casee Marie.

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Kim March 3, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Excellent point you make here. I mean, I don’t wear fur but mostly because I think it’s too flashy and expensive. Then again, I have no problem with leather or silk. I think the cute factor is definitely something that influences people, and you’re right it’s a bit unfair to judge someone only when they’re wearing fur.
brunetteblogging.com

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Arash Mazinani March 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Thanks for the comment Kim, you’re right about the cute factor I’m sure it does influence some people’s perspectives.

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Bonnie March 3, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I really try not to wear anything real — except for leather. I don’t wear fur. I can’t wear fur. I feel too guilty, and it makes me sad. Faux is the way to go.

http://glamkittenslitterbox.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

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Arash Mazinani March 5, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Thanks for commenting :-)

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Courtney March 3, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Glad you brought this topic up! I’m a hypocrite on this because I am adamantly against fur but never really thought about silk and found ways to justify leather. I don’t buy much leather, but do own some. I also wear silk shirts (all bought second hand, of course). Very interesting to think about.

Courtney

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Arash Mazinani March 5, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Thanks for your comment Courtney :-)

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Madeleine March 3, 2011 at 8:09 pm

This is a great subject. And you bring up really, really great points especially about human labor. I have to say when it comes to fair treatment I tend to side more towards the fair treatment of humans versus a 4 leg creature. Don’t get me wrong, I have a huge soft spot for cute little animals.
It seems with the whole going green movement in fashion going ethical in fashion has more prevalent. I think thats great.
I wear leather and I wear silk. I don’t actively seek out fur. And usually the fur I do buy is faux. Umm, I have been in my grandmothers closet and debated about stealing her fur coats. I have also debated about buying fur items from upscale consignment stores. I guess my reasoning behind that is.. someone bought it first,the animal is long dead and what am I going to prove by wasting a nice item. But then I get scared that PETA might attack me so I *chicken* out.
-Madeleine

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Beautifully Invisible March 3, 2011 at 8:20 pm

This is such a wonderful post. I also had read Fuyume’s (both her fur post as well as her most recent) but I relate to your stance on the subject much more.

I tend to be fairly neutral when it comes to ethical fashion. I respect people who do try to make ethical choices, but I admittedly am not one of them. I don’t wear real fur, but that is simply because I don’t find it aesthetically (or emotionally) pleasing. Faux fur I wear. Leather I adore. Silk I wear. I make my clothing purchases based on what strikes my fancy and that is it – plain and simple.

This isn’t necessarily because I don’t care, but rather, as you said, because I am an all or nothing type person. There are so many other things to consider when it comes to the materials and labor used in the fashion industry beyond the “fur vs silk vs feather vs leather” debate. Just not wearing fur or not wearing silk wouldn’t be enough if I truly wanted to be ethical – I think I’d have to become a nudist!

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Angga Heinrich March 4, 2011 at 3:17 am

Such a wonderful post, I would try to get my way of not wearing fur or real leather, and yes I hate the living condition or the working condition where the 3rd world country have to endure for western indulgence in fashion, I just think that its so weird that we still wearing real fur when everything can be made synthetic, why all those cute animals have to suffer for us to be walking in public to geta social status?? I hope more designer go without fur, would totally love that
<3
http://reserveradefashion.blogspot.com

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Madison March 4, 2011 at 4:41 am

Wow this was such an interesting post! I really had to think about this… more because of my personal experience about fur and animal cruelty.
I do not acquire fur, however, I do have a vintage fur coat that was passed down to me from my grandmother, (this I keep for sentimental reasons).
But, when I think of fur and what it means to me yes, I am quite against real fur, but often love the aesthetic of (faux) fur on garments, i.e. jackets, or coats. There are so many things about the fashion industry that are not adressed enough at times. I used to work in a textile mill, and learned a great deal about factories, varied conditions etc. some more than I’d care to know at times.
I entirely agree with you, in terms of feeling a bit hypocriticol. Though, I’m sure if we all knew more about the story of our threads, we might be quite surprised.
Happy that you brought this up (per Fuyume’s inspiration), and liked the way you tackled this issue.

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GRIT & GLAMOUR March 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Thank you so much for making these points. As much as I’d like to not harm anything in the world, I do eat meat, eggs, fish, and I wear leather, fur, and silk. If I had to kill to eat or to clothe myself, it would probably be a vastly different situation for me.

I do not like hunting for sport and while I have been blessed to have never felt the true desperation of famine and hunger, what we all might do when faced with nothing at all may be quite different than what we would when we have choices. I feel like Native American Indians had the right approach to nature and human consumption; we should not be wasteful or injurious, we should respect nature. I try to live my life that way, and mind my own business.

••V••
http://www.gritandglamour.com
@gritandglamour

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Mark March 5, 2011 at 10:19 am

What a wonderful idea to blog about this subject. It’s close to my heart and I love that it’s being brought up.
I like your point about caring about who makes the clothes, not just what they are made from. I think consumerism is such a large part of our lives these days we are far to quick to purchase without noticing where it has come from. When I buy strawberries I will always check to see that they are from the UK, if not then I don’t want them; but I’ve never checked a label to make sure it’s not made in china…
My girlfriend has taken it one step further against the wasteful society we live in. Always buying new just perpetuates the problem further. She’s only buying second hand, used clothes for a whole year. So that means charity shops, Ebay and vintage shops, and she’s doing it to raise awareness for the Macmillan Cancer charity.

Mark
http://www.prelovedreloved.co.uk
\o/

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chouchou March 7, 2011 at 8:26 pm

even though i’m not really a fan of fur, people often forget that they also wear leather clothes/shoes and so on. that’s actually what you wrote in your post and I’m really glad that you mention that. i guess we are used to eat cows and sheep and therefore it’s “ok”. but is it really ok?? I mean, I do eat meat and therefore I can’t be a really opponent to fur. HOWEVER, the main difference is that the fur-animals suffer more than the other ones and that’s NOT ok at all. – thanks for all the interesting words..!

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Arash Mazinani March 9, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Thanks for all your replies guys really appreciate it :-).

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Emily March 10, 2011 at 4:19 pm

first up, just found your blog – and I love it! Hi!!

Second, what a great post! We have family friends who are vegans and it has always intrigued me. Vegetarianism has tempted me before but never very seriously. As for leather – for me, I can’t beat that new leather smell and the durability of leather shoes and bags. Fur – I can’t afford it, so the issue never arises. I guess leather is such an available product that I’ve never really given it enough thought. Or maybe I’m just a hypocrite who wouldn’t wear fur but loves a leather shoe!

Definitely food for thought :)

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Eboni Ife' | The Fashionista Next Door March 10, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I agree with you 100% on this one. I just can’t justifiably pass judgment on people who choose to wear fur, leather, silk, or anything else for that matter. I would be a hypocrite to the core! Even if I chose to avoid fur, leather, silk and became a full on Vegan, unless I also choose to only buy close made in the US my supposed ethics would be compromised. Instead I choose to respect people’s choice to wear what they like, and I will do the same. You just can’t throw stones when you live in a glass house.

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Célèste of Fashion is Evolution March 10, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Great post. I’d also like to point out that even when considering all the animals that are harmed for fashion, people still don’t think about human rights issues surrounding fashion very much. The truth is that even if you boycott fur, leather, and silk, most of the clothes you buy will be made by children in sweatshops.

A person could really, really go whole hog and buy all clothing second hand or from stores like American Apparel that pay people in their factories a living wage, but I don’t think that going whole hog with a personal boycott is necessary or even the most effective way of trying to change the industry. What’s most important is to take the time to consider where our clothes come from and to spread awareness about ethics in fashion and in other industries like you’ve done with this post.

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tymbre March 11, 2011 at 1:20 am

Great post. People often bad talk individuals who wear fur, and don’t realize they are wearing silk and or leather. Because fur is so obvious and aggressive as opposed to leather or silk, we barely notice when someone is wearing the two because pieces made of leather or silk just look like well made, good quality clothing. Where as fur is … well fur. lol

Now, I do not wear fur bc I simply cannot afford it. However, if I had the funds I probably still wouldn’t because it is a bit too flashy for my style.

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Asteria March 12, 2011 at 6:26 am

you know what, you’re right. I don’t wear fur (or even consider wearing fur) because fur just doesn’t appeal to me. But I do love leather bags and shoes. Honestly, I’ve never thought about how my leather goods came to be, and I guess it’s because we’re not exposed to the reality behind how they make them as oppose to the ever-growing media attention to fur.

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The Cyniqueen March 12, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I love that you’ve opened up this topic. It is important to remind ourselves about and to reflect on the ethical aspect of fashion. Always a pleasure to go through your blog. Keep writing :)

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A March 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Completely unethical I’m afraid. Although I don’t own any fur and wouldn’t buy it new. My favourite vintage store gives a % of all its fur sales to animal rights charities which I think is a good thing :)
Nice post
x

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Corinne Monique March 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Thanks for posting about this issue! I’m kind of on the fence – I love fur, leather, & silk, but I also understand & disapprove of the manufacturing processes behind these materials… It’s a good subject to think about so you are at least making informed choices!

Corinne xo

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Fashion Limbo March 13, 2011 at 9:28 pm

I’m pro fake fur…in the sense that fake fur proves that you don’t need to kill anything to wear something inspired by nature, and warm at the same time. Fashion is bound to be inspired by nature, its colours, shapes, textures. People are not going to stop wearing fur it seems but why can’t they just swap to fake?

leather on the other hand is something I didn’t used to mind, but now I’m becoming more and more against it, and trying to find goods that are “vegetarian”, but good quality ones are hard to come across.

I wish I could be more ethical, but my budget limits how good I can be on that respect, and also the fact that still vegetarian fashion is somehow limited.

The whole silk thing is wrong, as much as I love silk, I cannot stop thinking about the poor worms :S

Great post Arash!!

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Marissa March 14, 2011 at 5:18 pm

I had no idea that silk was made this way! It won’t stop me from wearing it, but I do feel better informed now.

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Ephemeral Maze March 15, 2011 at 6:32 pm

ahh such an interesting topic! there does seem to be an abundance of hypocrisy and/or double standards about this issue.
personally, I have resigned myself to the fact that people will always use animals for their own progress/comfort. that doesn’t mean I’ll encourage the killing of even more animals for my sartorial choices (I’ve always found fur unappealing anyways) when I can avoid it.

it’s so complicated though, things humans have developed and now take for granted are attained by harming other creatures and that can’t make us indifferent, especially seeing as how fashion is a widely vain matter. it makes me feel pretty hopeless and small to realize that there isn’t much that can be done – there are more people alive now than have ever lived on Earth previously, so we can’t all wear vintage and second-hand.

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Arash Mazinani March 15, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Thanks for all your comments sorry couldn’t reply individually to you all but I really appreciate it. :-)

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Relatable Style April 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm

There is so much in this topic except for leather, silk and fur… About that: I don’t wear fur and I feel a little uncomfortable wearing leather, but I would wear it. I eat meat, after all, too. And I hadn’t thought twice about silk, to be honest.

But how about child labor or slave-like working conditions in the countries that make our clothes? I might just post something on my blog about that because I’d really like to know how people think about that. I mean, I only buy clothes in the lower price category. And of course, brands need to get the costs down to increase the margin. So they just might “invest” in slave-like work conditions or child labor, as it’s much cheaper than sensible conditions. But then I hear that just about every clothing brand at just about every price level is caught every now and then violating work ethics in third world countries. So I keep on buying the cheap stuff, because I know buying expensive stuff doesn’t make anything better – except for the bank accounts of those who already have enough. Of course, I could buy fair products. But have you seen them?? Sorry, I’ll pass. But I can’t help having a bad conscience.

Relatable Style

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Arash Mazinani April 5, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Check out the link in the post to Fuyume’s blog she has plenty of links to brands that are both ethical and stylish.

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