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August 5, 2019

Sustainable ethical fashion

There’s been a lot of media coverage in recent months around brands that are being accredited as sustainable and ethical. Fashion Revolution, a global movement that believes “in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure” has put forward a manifesto of 10 points relating to sustainability and ethical practice. So, we thought we’d take a closer look at them and see how we measure up.

IN TERMS OF PEOPLE…

#1 Fashion provides dignified work, from conception to creation to catwalk. It does not enslave, endanger, exploit, overwork, harass, abuse or discriminate against anyone. Fashion liberates worker and wearer and empowers everyone to stand up for their rights.

#2 Fashion provides fair and equal pay. It enriches the livelihood of everyone working across the industry, from farm to shop floor. Fashion lifts people out of poverty, creates thriving societies and fulfils aspiration.

#3 Fashion gives people a voice, making it possible to speak up without fear, join together in unity without repression and negotiate for better conditions at work and across communities.

#4 Fashion respects culture and heritage. It fosters, celebrates and rewards skills and craftsmanship. It recognises creativity as its strongest asset. Fashion never appropriates without giving due credit or steals without permission. Fashion honours the artisan.

#5 Fashion stands for solidarity, inclusiveness and democracy, regardless of race, class, gender, age, shape or ability. It champions diversity as crucial for success.

How we measure up…

We’ve invested time, money and effort into ensuring that our studio is a secure, clean and happy working space for our diverse team of women. Every member of the team has been given responsibility for her specific area of expertise in an effort to nurture a real sense of empowerment and each garment we create is handled with care and skill throughout the production process. Our team enjoys a stable income throughout the year, and we have a fully defined HR policy in place to ensure that employee rights are acknowledged and upheld. 

IN TERMS OF THE ENVIRONMENT…

#6 Fashion conserves and restores the environment. It does not deplete precious resources, degrade our soil, pollute our air and water or harm our health. Fashion protects the welfare of all living things and safeguards our diverse ecosystems.

#7 Fashion never unnecessarily destroys or discards but mindfully redesigns and recuperates in a circular way. Fashion is repaired, reused, recycled and upcycled. Our wardrobes and landfills do not overflow with clothes that are coveted but not cherished, bought but not kept.

How we measure up…

We are firm believers in conserving and restoring the environment. However, the availability of fabrics and price makes the environmental aspect slightly more difficult to follow in full. These are the ways in which we are currently fulfilling these ideals:

  • We use only natural fibre fabrics like cottons, linens and silks. Man-made fabrics will never biodegrade and given the huge problem that landfills are globally, we don’t want to contribute to them any more than we absolutely have to.
  • We are currently recycling some of our offcuts to pad our Quilted Bolero jacket and will be looking at other ways to reuse these pieces of fabric going forward.
  • We create classically styled clothing that is timeless and can be worn season after season, which helps to address the issue of mass production and consumption.
  • We use paper bags in our store (unless our clients have their own reusable shoppers or tote bags) and cardboard boxes for our online orders. Each online order includes a cotton bag that we are hoping customers will use for veggie shopping and other smaller purchases.
  • We regularly source fabrics from a local fabric mill that generates a large amount of employment in our city.

Going forward we will focus on…

  • Sourcing organic fabric alternatives – considerable amounts of pesticides can be used during the cultivation of cotton and hemp plants.
  • Sourcing natural dyes that are less harsh on the environment in order to create our beautiful colour palettes.
  • Most of our fabrics are imported, as many of our local fabric mills have closed down.

IN TERMS OF OUR PROCESSES

#8 Fashion is transparent and accountable. Fashion embraces clarity and does not hide behind complexity nor rely upon trade secrets to derive value. Anyone, anywhere can find out how, where, by whom and under what conditions their clothing is made.

How we measure up…

We are committed to being completely transparent with our studio and production processes and are always more than happy to answer any questions our customers may have about them.

IN TERMS OF OUR VISION

#9 Fashion measures success by more than just sales and profits. Fashion places equal value on financial growth, human wellbeing and environmental sustainability. 

#10 Fashion lives to express, delight, reflect, protest, comfort, commiserate and share. Fashion never subjugates, denigrates, degrades, marginalises or compromises. Fashion celebrates life.

We believe that by supporting small businesses in South Africa, we can support one another in job creation, encourage creativity in our society and grow a pride for our beautiful city and diverse country. 

In closing…

It is key that as a fashion house in today’s society, we constantly strive to do better and be better when it comes to our people, our environment, our processes and our vision. At Margot Molyneux, we are committed to aligning as closely as we possibly can to each and every one of the ideals outlined in the Manifesto for a Fashion Revolution.