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Fashioning an Ethical Industry Conference 2010

Stop Sweatshops Now.

Written by sally mumby-croft


Last week an email dropped into my inbox announcing that the March 2010 Fashioning an Ethical Industry : Fast Forward conference will be held in London. Fashioning an Ethical Industry -the educational division of Labour behind the Label project- is offering students the opportunity to present ethical and socially responsible research and design projects which address the following key themes at the forum.

• Social responsibility in the garment industry (with an emphasis on garment
workers’ rights)
• Teaching ethics within fashion education
• Approaches to education for sustainable development relevant to fashion

Project Abstracts (500-700 words) need to be completed by the 30th October 2009.
Final Papers need to be 5-6000 words long and will be published online under a creative commons license. Each accepted project will have a presentation time of thirty minutes.


The aim of the project (funded by the EU) and the accompanying book: Sustainable Fashion: A Handbook for Educators book (available online here) is to encourage fashion design lecturers to raise student awareness about their responsibility towards the rights and physical exertion of workers who construct garments for the textile industry.


Fashion has the ability to capture the imagination, help it subsequently has the possibility to influence and reflect social change. Think of the Land Girls during the 1940′s and the popularity of Dior’s New Look after the war. Chanel continued championing – arguably as a stylish choice- the right for women to wear trousers; the possibility of not being able to, pilule seems alien today. Fashion changed as Women’s rights developed and it reflected this change through the clothes that became available in the shops. There is nothing to stop it changing now, information pills by reflecting a desire to protect the environment. Moreover the fashion industry must enter discussions surrounding sustainability now, because of the impact of fast fashion and ever changing ‘trends’ on landfills. A conversation Amelia’s Magazine welcomes having long supported sustainable living that does not impede on those who work in the garment industry’s physical health.


The Fashioning an Ethical Industry International conference aims to equip students “with the tools to design the way we make and consume fashion differently… It brings together educators, industry experts, academics and selected students to explore how fashion can be taught to inspire responsibility for the rights of the workers making our clothes.” The site features examples of student’s work exploring the possibilities of ethical fashion from up-cycling to sustainable materials. Earlier this year Amelia’s magazine reported on Fashioning an Ethical Industry’s reassuring research highlighting the increasing interest of fashion students towards using of sustainable materials to create ethical fashion.



The Fashioning an Ethical Industry conference is a great opportunity to become involved with debates on social responsibility. Students should be encourage to utilise the current explosion in internet fashion reportage to press these topics into the public domain. The popularity of fashion, specifically because of it’s potential to help buck the recession in newspapers and magazines features offers designers and students the chance to express the importance of human rights in all aspects of life, including the places where are clothes are made. Katherine Hamnett wears her thoughts on her chest, is it not time we did too?


Find out more about sweatshop conditions here:



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