Clothing with Integrity: Utilizing Digital Notebooks to Promote Ethical Fashion
For some, fashion as evidenced by styles of clothing, footwear and accessories, is seen as “the poster industry of consumerist materialism.” As writer Kate Fletcher continues, “It [can be] shaped by the superfluidity of mass production and unlimited consumption; an industry linked to abuses of workers’ rights and the creation of waste.” Still, others view fashion as an art form, a way for those who create it and those who wear it to express themselves: “our personal style tells a story, whether deliberately or unconsciously…They are the sum of our experiences, our education, our heritage…” How does one reconcile these two views of fashion as self-expression and fashion as waste?
The fact is fashion is often both unless the industry can improve its “ecosystem.” Fletcher discusses that the fashion industry involves “millions of people, from those growing and processing raw fibre to workers in vast sewing factories and the employees and shoppers in millions of retail outlets worldwide.” It is then imperative that the fashion industry begin to take seriously the importance of “ethical fashion” in order to increase sustainable practices, protect the environment and encourage its consumers to do the same. Indeed, conscious consumers “who demand to know the story behind a fashion product, [are most likely] to lead the charge for transparent, ethical production.”
The Rise of Ethical Fashion and Clothing
So what exactly is ethical fashion? Let’s first consider what it is not: in 2012, a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed killing over 400 workers and injuring many others, even after its owner had been warned of perilous conditions in the building. Ethical fashion is then the creation of clothing that respects labor rights by ensuring that employment is freely chosen, workers are paid a living wage and there are safe and healthy working conditions, among other conditions. Much like the organic food industry, companies should begin to take more care to ensure that the products used to make fabric — from fibers to the actual sewing — are obtained in an ethical manner. By addressing these factors, companies can attract those consumers who are becoming increasingly concerned about the source of their items.
Digital Notebooks Can Help Keep Track of Products and Their Sources
The use of digital notebooks can go a long way toward identifying and maintaining the information about how and where an item is produced, ensuring that this information can be conveyed to consumers as in the organic food industry. Here are two specific ways digital notebooks can be used in the fashion industry to improve organization and help ensure ethical fashion:
- Monitor the pipeline: Digital notebooks have been used to monitor experiments in research fields and these capabilities also indicate that digital notebooks can be used successfully in fashion. By identifying where fibers come from, down to the specific building where they are produced, companies can better influence and regulate their suppliers. Part of the problem with unethical fashion is that consumers and even companies are divorced from the people who supply them with resources. By mending this bridge through careful record-keeping, people can put pressure upon unethical companies, thus prompting them to employ better tactics.
- Clothing functionality: There are various methods employed by companies and seamstresses to create clothing; however, some techniques create more or less durable products for a variety of reasons. Ethical fashion requires some understanding of the environmental consequences of certain practices. Using digital notebooks, companies can determine the best types of sewing patterns, for example, for winter wear versus summer wear and can use that information to develop more durable, long-lasting products.
As has been seen in other industries, digital notebooks can go a long way toward improving record-keeping and organization within a company, characteristics that are increasingly important for a fashion industry that should ensure items are being ethically produced. To see how digital notebooks can support work in your chosen industry, please contact us today and learn what the BIOVIA Notebook can do for you.