Wednesday 14 March 2012

Shirahime: radical thinking on ethical fashion

There are an awful lot of truisms about ethical fashion that deserve a second look. We've already seen how certification might not suit a business, and how it can deliver not just the wrong message, but the wrong results. We've also seen how claiming and actually being an ethical business can be two different things, particularly when you look at the way multinationals have jumped on the bandwagon.

Pamela Ravasio, a writer and ethical consultant, takes a clear-eyed look at our little world on her blog, Shirahime. She's very good at digging into the issues and shining a big, bright light on the contradictions. She's also excellent at taking a different perspective.

Her latest post reviews a book on the FairTrade phenomenon by French author Frédéric Karpy­ta and applies it's ideas to the ethical fashion field. And it's a bait of an eye-opener. Ravasio has clearly seen it all before, and is unimpressed with some of the lurid claims that manufacturers and NGOs make about how FairTrade is making a difference. Her, and indeed Karpyta's point is a simple one:
"He tries to cut slack when­ev­er pos­si­ble, but at the bot­tom line for him the real­i­ty remains that the extra money we’re pay­ing at the till (for FairTrade) doesn’t real­ly get to the poor­est of the poor, the small hold­ers whose life we want­ed to improve."
There's a lot more in a similar light, and I recommend the entire post. Karpyta's book is sadly only available in French at the moment, which makes the Shirahima post all the more essential. Ravasio is digging out some essential thoughts and ideas on ethical fashion which we would otherwise have no access to. Shirahime is a must on my reading list. Perhaps it should be on yours too!

Read the post on Shirahime.

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