Tag Archives: Responsibility

[Lesson 1] Sifting through the ‘Ecofashion Lexicon’

Lesson1This lesson introduces the following concepts: consumer choice, designer choice, the ‘Ecofashion Lexicon,’ greenwashing, unintelligent design, and cradle to cradle design theory. For more information on these issues, please visit the ‘Works Cited’ page at the end of the lesson.

* If you are planning to use this lesson, please let us know so that we may keep track of our progress.


Both consumers and designers alike have been left to fend for themselves when it comes to understanding the social issues and environmental concerns increasingly associated with the fashion industry. Signals of deception, such as greenwashing, as well as unintelligent designs that have created products with hidden ingredients, known as products plus, have seemingly hijacked the potential for any real choice to exist at all.

Click here to download this lesson: Lesson 1: Sifting through the ‘Ecofashion Lexicon’


Image courtesy of Kick4change on flickr.com, © All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Kick4change on flickr.com, © All rights reserved.

Kick4change is a European social enterprise started by Jamie Tosh and Simon Brown with the goal of “making sport as accessible as possible for as many young people as possible, allowing them to benefit from the life skills and experiences that only sport can provide.” This is done by reinvesting 50% of the profits back into schools and community sports clubs that register with the company and specifically purchase 4sport branded cleats (boots).  The other 50% of profits is also used to invest into grassroots sports and other causes.  The cleats are priced at £14.99 (around $25 US).  According to the website:

“We can afford to sell the products at such a competitive price because we are not dictated to by executives or shareholders driven by short term profit. Our quality rivals anything currently available on the market and our products are as aspirational as any brand due to their overriding values, design and style.”

Working with Kick4Life, an organization with similar goals focused on Lesotho, Kick4change is investigating the idea of “boot libraries.”

What a beautiful idea!!

Sources: Kick4Life and Kick4Change

Curb Your Consumption

MA Design Studies (MADS) student, Katie Hart has recently launched an initiative set to investigate the relationship between consumer behavior and over-consumption. Through the online lab, Curb Your Consumption, Hart shares her research and ideas, bringing together resources, news, events, and links on the subject.

Her final project explores patterns of consumption within the UK. Along the way, Hart hopes to “work with a diverse range of consumers to:

  • Educate and communicate the problems with over-consumption of fashion products in the UK
  • Understand what consumers need in order to actually change their behaviour (i.e. labelling, information pack, seminars etc)
  • Contribute to a grassroots movement of positive change in consumer behaviour” (Hart, About Me)

Here are some of the exciting things happening over on her site:

Hart has created a large visual artifact that illustrates “the problem with fashion overconsumption, and the global torment we are creating with this excessive spending” (Hart, About My Project). She will also be conducting a series of workshops. If you are interested in participating, be sure to contact her. Her book, titled Buy Now. Pay Later – today’s treasure is tomorrow’s trash, will soon be available on her site, and she is currently working on what she calls “bite-size learning materials” on the following topics:

  • Fibres and Fabrics – taking the microscope to our clothes
  • The hands that touch our fashion – a journey into the histories of our garments
  • Fast Fashion – the issues
  • Recycling/Reuse – what to do with your clothes when they are worn out

If you would like to learn more, be sure to follow Hart on her journey toward solutions for sustainable consumption and learn how you can ‘curb’ your consumption habits.

***Will you be in London the first week of December? Her work will be on display at the MA Design Studies Final Exhibition, Applied Imagination – Bringing Method to the Madness at T2 Truman Brewery – from 4th – 8th December 2009.

Here are some images of her work via the online lab:

The_global_problem with fashion2     So Far_So What     The_global_problem with fashion

For more images, visit Curb Your Consumption.

MADS is a graduate program offered through Central Saint Martins. For more information on the program, click here.

A New Approach to the Issue of Living Wages

Stitching a Decent Wage Across Borders[Worker sowing at home. India, 2009. © Ankur Ahuja/ Clean Clothes Campaign.]

One of the root causes of poverty wages in the industry is the power of global buyers to constantly relocate production in search of ever lower prices and better terms of trade. This power is used to exert a downward pressure on wages and conditions – labour being one of the few ‘production costs’ or ‘inputs’ that can be squeezed. 

The solution

The basic idea of the Asia Floor Wage is to put a ‘floor’ under this, thereby preventing this competition from forcing wages below poverty levels and making sure gains are more equitably shared along the supply chain. The Asia Floor Wage alliance have formulated a unified, regional demand for a minimum living wage which is decent and fair and which can be standardised and compared between countries. This regional collective bargaining strategy will unite workers and their allies from different Asian countries behind one wage demand. 


The goal is to attain this standardised minimum living wage for workers across Asia through negotiations between garment industry employers and workers’ representative organisations, and with the mediation and support of governments, inter-governmental organisations and social movements.

The report constructed by the Asia Floor Wage organisation is available here.

Source: Asian Floor Wage

Watch//Waste = Food

“Waste = Food” is a fantastic documentary, perfect for incorporating into course curriculum as a visual aid to inspire fashion design students to think critically about ‘waste.’


Man is the only creature that produces landfills. Natural resources are being depleted on a rapid scale while production and consumption are rising in na­tions like China and India. The waste production world wide is enormous and if we do not do anything we will soon have turned all our resources into one big messy landfill. But there is hope. The German chemist, Michael Braungart, and the American designer-architect William McDonough are fundamentally changing the way we produce and build. If waste would become food for the biosphere or the technosphere (all the technical products we make), produc­tion and consumption could become beneficial for the planet.

A design and production concept that they call Cradle to Cradle. A concept that is seen as the next industrial revolution.

 • Design every product in such a way that at the end of its lifecycle the component materials become a new resource.

 • Design buildings in such a way that they produce energy and become a friend to the environment.

Large companies like Ford and Nike are working with McDonough and Braun­gart to change their production facilities and their products. They realize that economically seen waste is destruction of capital. You make something with no value. Based on their ideas the Chinese government is working towards a circular economy where Waste = Food. An amazing story that will definitely change your way of thinking about production and consumption.”


Director Rob van Hattum

Research Gijs Meijer Swantee

Production Karin Spiegel en Madeleine Somer

Editors in Chief Doke Romeijn en Frank Wiering


Source: Google and Tegenlicht

Let`s Clean Up Fashion: 2009 Report

Let’s Clean up Fashion 2009: The State of Pay Behind the UK High Street reports a disconnect between the what’s happening in the boardrooms, the development of corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and procedures, and what is actually happening on the ground.

“Wages are low because they are kept that way through a global competition that engages workers, factories and whole countries in a race to the bottom – A race where the winners are those that can produce as quickly, cheaply and flexibly as possible” (LCUF, 2009 Report: 2)

LCUF 2009


According to Fashioning an Ethical Industry (FEI), this year’s guide is not only relevant to high street retailers, but should also be of interest to both fashion design students and tutors, “with indepth company case studies that can be incorporated into university projects or teaching.” (FEI)

“The scandalous truth is that the majority of workers in the global fashion industry rarely earn more than two dollars a day, in an industry worth over 36 billion a year in the UK alone.” (LCUF, 2009 Report: 2)

In this year’s report, Let’s Clean Up Fashion (LCUF) has claimed that “[n]o brand or retailer is paying its workers a living wage, or has yet put together a systematic programme of work that is likely to raise wages to acceptable levels in the near future.” (LCUF, 2009 Report: 3) In 2008, LCUF argued there are “four pillars that underlie a meaningful living wage initiative: using a collaborative approach by working with other companies, trade unions and labour rights groups; supporting worker organising and participation; addressing commercial factors throughout the supply chain and creating a clear road map to implementing the living wage for all workers.” (LCUF, 2009 Report: 4)  

The 2009 report lists high street companies who have lost the plot when it comes to basic human rights in the workforce, and presents in depth case studies of each, citing where and why they have fallen short, with comments on what they need to improve. Here is the list of companies included in the report:

Alexon, BHS, Ethel Austin, House of Fraser, Peacock Group, Asda/George, Clarks, Debenhams, French Connection, John Lewis, Laura Ashley, Levi Strauss & Co, Matalan, River Island, Sainsbury’s, Arcadia Group, Aurora Fashions, Burberry, Tesco, Gap, Marks & Spencer (M&S), Monsoon Accessorize, New Look, Next, and Primark.

Click here to read the report online, and here to download the full report in PDF.

Labour Behind the Label has been reporting on these issues since 2006. Click here for previous reports.

Labour Behind the Label. (2006 – 9) Lets clean up fashion: The state of pay behind the UK high street, Bristol: Labour Behind the Label.


Source: FEI and LCUP

AATCC Global Conference & Exhibition: Emerging Trends in Textile Processing for a Sustainable Future

Title: AATCC Global Conference & Exhibition: Emerging Trends in Textile Processing for a Sustainable Future
Location: Mumbai
Link out: Click here

This years AATCC Global Conference & Exhibition will be held at The Bombay Textile research Association (BTRA) in Mumbai. The theme will be “Emerging Trends in Textile Processing for a Sustainable Future,” with breakout sessions focused on “color, dyeing, finishing and printing, plasma technology, sustainable development, biotechnology n textiles, and eco-friendly aspects of textile & garment production.” (AATCC)

Here is the list of the presentations confirmed so far:  

Using Color Measurement & Communication Tools Effectively – Ann Laidlaw, X-Rite Inc.

Emerging Trends in Textile Processing for a Sustainable Future – V.R. Kanetkar, Institute of Chemical Technology

Technologies for Sustainable Dyeing of Cotton – R. Michael Tyndall, Cotton Incorporated

Dyeing Synthetics: Problems We Have Solved and Problems that Remain – Martin Bide, University of Rhode Island

Nanotechnology and Nano-finishes for Textiles – Prabodh Chobe, BASF India

Digital Textile Printing: The Greener Footprint for Modern, Colorful Fabrics – Frank Berninger, DyStar GmbH & Co. Deutschland KG

High Value Textiles via Atmospheric Pressure Plasma Finishing – Peter Hauser, North Carolina State University

Plasma Application in the Textile Industry – Chiara Pavan, GRINP Europe

Understanding the Impact of Environmental Legislation on Sustainable Textile Development – Dr. Wakankar, Clariant Chemicals Chemicals India Limited

Testing for Antimicrobial Properties: Scientific Evaluations, Claims Validation, Plant Application Qualification and QC Testing – W. Curtis White, AEGIS Environments

Bio-solutions to Improve Sustainability – Han Kuilderd, Novozymes

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Carbon Credits in the Textile Industry – Prasad Jakkaraju, TUV Nord

Green Flame Retardant Cotton Highlofts for Mattresses and Upholstered Furniture – D.V. Parikh, USDA-ARS-SRRC

**Networking reception, evening of the 28th

**Two-day exhibition:  29th and 30th

Questions? Contact: Peggy Pickett at pickettp@aatcc.org or +1 919 549 3533.

Start Date: 2010-01-28
End Date: 2010-01-30

Source: AATCC

R4: The Next Dimension of Fashion

 Theives, by designer Sonja den Elzen.

Title: R4: The Next Dimension of Fashion
Location: Toronto
Link out: Click here

“R4 Fashion is an event looking to bring together students, young professionals, industry leaders, fashion community members, and green advocates for a celebration of top and upcoming Canadian fashion designers who view fashion with an added green dimension. Also it’s to promote sustainable design & technology, lifestyle, and eco-friendly consumer decisions in the community.

“Join us for an exciting evening of Haute Couture fashion featuring some of Canada’s top fashion designers including headlining AIME by Monica Mei, CARRIE by Carrie Hayes, Thieves by Sonja den Elzen, and Rachel Jasmine Chan. All will present sexy and fashionable eco-fashion lines proving that going green doesn’t leave style behind.

“Hosted by the wonderful Candice Batista of A Greener Toronto, the evening will also feature upcoming young fashion designers who combine their environmental consciousness with talent for fashion design. A competition will make the evening more exciting, as one winning student designer will be selected from our jury of special guests: Kelly Drennan, Amanda Brugel, and Gail McInnes!”

Start Time: 8:00pm
Date: 2009-11-20

Source (both image and text): R4

Community News

A roundup of some of the stories, headlines, and updates you may be interested in from in and around the community of socially responsible fashion design.


Abigail Doan

Interview with Modebewust

Body Politic

Vancouver based Body Politic launches new online store

Fashion Loves People

Why I’m Over American Apparel

How Nike will legitimize eco-design for the masses (and eco brands won’t)

Ethical Style

Issue #25: Design Issue

Centre for Sustainable Fashion

Green Gucci

Pratt Blog

Valerie Casey: A Leader in Sustainable Design

Clothesource Comments

Forced labour added to list of ethical hot topics

November Summary

EcoTextile News

Handbook to aid retailers source cotton

Click here to download the handbook

Project H

Design Revolution is taking to the road! 25 schools, 75 days and 6300 miles. Click here for more info.

The Girlie Girl Army

Chatting To Summer Rayne Oakes At Green Fashion Week 

DBTV: Girlie Girl & The Brute at The Green Shows, Pt 3 from The Discerning Brute on Vimeo.


Image Source: Core77 via Fashion Loves People

Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion

Thanks to Ecouterre for letting us know about this great exhibition coming to the Pratt Manhattan Gallery in New York. The exhibition will run for 3 months, so if you find yourself in New York, be sure to check it out!

Title: Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion
Location: New York
Link out: Click here

“This exhibition will survey the work of artists and designers (many of whom are based in New York) who explore practical and symbolic solutions to the question of integrating sustainable practices into the fashion system.” (Pratt)

  • Panel discussion with designers and curators: January 26, 6pm, Pratt Manhattan, room 213
  • Guest curators, Francesca Granata and Sarah Scaturro
  • Opening reception, Thursday, November 19, 6 – 8 p.m.


Start Date: 2009-11-20
End Date: 2010-02-20

Source: Ecouterre