Sunday 31 October, 5.30pm until 6.30pm, Student Union
While the glitterati have often been accused of supporting fashionable causes, until recently this rarely extended as far as the whole fashion industry. The supermodels of the 1990s would rather have gone naked than wear fur, but today’s fashionistas are eager to be seen wrapped up in ethical chic of all kinds. Ethics are no longer applied to the odd piece of women’s wear and the way it’s made but to all clothes and accessories, their production and consumption.
Fashion magazines praise designers for their sustainable and green-friendly credentials. Being seen in last year’s outfit is just as likely to provoke cheers for ‘upcycling’ than gasps of derision. Meanwhile some leading fashion shows show off their ‘plus-size’ models. Off the cat-walk ethical concerns are increasingly taking over high-street fashion as well. Budget retail giant Primark has reaffirmed its commitment to offering bargains but ‘not at the expense of the people who make our products’. TV schedules are awash with programmes revealing the human cost of Western luxuries. Campaigners and parents have called for regulation over everything from padded bikinis for children (and other ‘inappropriate’ goods) to the airbrushing of models in ads.
Is sustainable fashion a contradiction in terms or is it time the fashion industry woke up to its responsibilities? Should we cheerlead for a culture in which designers can realise their artistic vision above all other concerns? Would fashionistas be better off getting a bit of perspective on the world’s problems? Can fashion change the world, simply make it better-dressed, or both?
Listen to session audio:
fashion designer, visiting tutor, Royal College of Art; winner, Fashion Collection of the Year, International Talent Support 2009
founder and managing director, Ethical Fashion Forum; author, Can Fashion Be Fair?
chairman, Graduate Fashion Week; consultant, Hearst Corporation; former chairman, COMAG, largest magazine distribution company in UK
speakers' agent, Ed Victor Speakers Bureau LLP
broadcaster, management consultant, journalist and author
investigative journalist; director, The Queen & Us
Indian workers are paid just 25p an hour and forced to work overtime in factories used by some of Britain's best-known high street storesGethin Chamberlain, Guardian, 9 August 2010
Western women have fallen in love with “throw-away” fashion, to the extent that we’re buying a third more clothes than ten years ago.Anne Jonhstone, Herald, 30 July 2010
Orsola de Castro, of From Somewhere, created a dress using 'liability' fabric that was destined to be used as car-seating material – instead the Viper went on to become Tesco online's bestselling dress. Meet the queen of upcycling...Lucy Siegle, Observer, 14 June 2010
'Ethical' and 'fashion' are no longer mutually exclusive…Polly Vernon, Guardian, 14 June 2010
Partly, we have the recession to thank. It has turned us into a nation of savers rather than spenders. But there is also a growing sense of unease about the environmental implications of disposable fashion.Anna Shepard, New Statesman, 1 June 2010
They live in a mass slum; she lives in luxury. But Ali Hewson – perhaps better known as Mrs Bono – is determined to bring a little bit of paradise to these African lives;and in so doing, she is breathing life back into her ethical-fashion companyCraig McCLan, Independent, 31 May 2010