Saturday, August 23, 2008


So, the eco-fashion party I spoke of some weeks ago happened. And it was quite an instructive happening – from the venue (Club4Climate’s Surya bar), the designers who exhibited, the fact that there was an auction – of important pieces donated by participating designers -- proceeds from which went to Ethical Justice Foundation (EJF) to the vibe among those who attended – everything about this event was about activism via the (increasingly popular) platform that is ethical fashion.

Throughout the evening a key fact loomed large -- ethical fashion now, without a doubt, straddles two things almost equally: as it has always done, it is about awareness, issues, taking a normative stand…things that people might say are ‘serious’ (things that the DEVI in you will tend toward). Equally, with the rise of chic, cool and seriously stylish designer clothing, it is now about looking good (things that the DOLL in you will appreciate deeply) and in this respect it is no more or less than all other fashion. No need to take a stance, make a point. Just get us to look fab, thank you very much.

Also it was interesting to see how, in just the last year, ethical/eco fashion has gone from being a quirky, cool, edgy concept to a real live business prospect. Selling organic cotton/locally produced/natural fabric/animal free etc etc fashion, works. As you can imagine, we at DeviDoll are pleased that in 12 months so many have joined our ranks. But it also throws up an interesting question:

as this arena opens up – new retailers, ‘specialists’, stylists, designers –who will who will take ethical fashion on as a retail issue, full-stop and who will take it on as the complex, messy issue that it is? Who will stay well clear of activist type events but be very smart about selling, merchandising, trend marketing (‘its cool, it’ll sell, lets do it’) and who will open themselves up to, even welcome, questions like

Can ethical fashion really make a difference?
How can I be ethical and fashionable on a limited budget?
How can I ethically style my wardrobe, my life?
Is there good and bad bamboo?
Should I choose the organic cotton tee designed by Lacroix for EJF or From Somewhere’s upcycled fabric tee -- is one ‘more’ ethical/eco than the other??
If this is fair-trade and ethical, then why is it so expensive?

Don’t get me wrong – the retail-minded focus is instrumental in giving ethical fashion business legs and without those the ‘space’ won’t gain the credibility and participation it needs and deserves. So no slagging off the pure ‘lets-sell-it-because-that-works’ type here. Just noting that ethical fashion, unlike conventional fashion, has (always had) serious heart and now, as the eco-fashion party showed, it is developing a serious rational, bottom-line oriented mind.

There can be no doubt that, given the very premise of ethical fashion, the meeting of heart and mind will raise interesting debates and issues about the business of ethical fashion. Stay tuned.

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