The fashion industry employs millions of people all over the world and accounts for a massive share of our global economy. With such a vast proportion, there come the ethical apprehensions that are both compound and immense. As there are increasing concerns from the global population about environmental tolls and human rights, the fashion industry continues to remain under a spotlight as being an enabler of these issues.
Such an instance was the 2013 collapse of the eight-story Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh. Due to the varying levels of safety and inspections, over 1,100 factory workers lost their lives. Within the building were products being outsourced from many Western retailers such as Joe Fresh, Primark, and Benetton. There was a global outcry about the conditions in which the clothes were being made, and yet another dark cloud was placed over the fashion industry.
Ethical enterprises in the fashion industry have always been linked with skepticism. Is it a company desperately attempting to show their connection with societal issues for profit, or is it an authentic act to really try and make a difference? The trend of “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” is very steady, as we have seen over the past few years. However, the debate stands with if these practices will stay a trend, or if they will become the new regular in a brand’s DNA.
We are beginning to see strong correlations between company’s policies and their consumers desire to purchase their products. Paying it back to society is not an opt-in anymore; it is becoming a critical factor of success. To make it short, CSR initiatives can’t merely be based on short-term plans anymore. They need to be integrated into a fashion brand’s overall philosophy.