International Retail Fashion and Ethics

One of the positive effects of the rapid globalization is the increasing awareness amongst people and society about ethical and moral as well as environmental issues. While political leaders and global organisations as well as scientists are concerned about global warming and loosing energy crises, we see the birth and rapid growth of green earth concept covering all fields of enterprise. The building of awareness and addressing issues and concerns is actively promoted by NGOs and interest groups.

In recent years we have also seen the rise of expectations with reference to social responsibilities of the Corporate and Business Houses. The issues that are socially relevant are not limited to the above issues but extend to other humanitarian and environmental issues as well including animal welfare. Fashion industry has had to be responsible for ethical issues concerning child labour and working conditions of labour at the Supplier’s end. As principle employers, the International Retailers are held responsible in case where the suppliers default on providing the right working conditions and payments to labour.

In the third world countries and south Asian countries there have been practices of using child labour, discriminating between men and women for wages as well as not providing basic amenities and safety to the labour. In certain instances the retails like GAP and Nike had to face the wrath for the irregularities found at their supplier sites. With rising public outcry and mounting pressure from the interest groups as well as from authorities, the fashion retailers had to stop procurements from the suppliers and make amendments.

As the awareness groups and animal protection groups are becoming more and more visible as well as aggressive, they are raising voice against use of fur and leather in fashion clothing. Use of animals for testing in by cosmetic industry as well as use of rabbits farming for wool production and culling of some species for their skin are forcing the fashion industry to abandon such product range and cultivate environment and animal friendly products. The proactive action to move away from such practices and follow ethical fashion is seen to be limited to the big and well known fashion brands and houses alone. The smaller as well as local companies continue to push products for commercial gain.

Fashion houses are also turning to be environmentally conscious and finding suitable environmental friendly dyes and chemicals as well as other ingredients that go into making their products and avoid harmful chemicals. Sometimes the products are slightly priced higher when they are environmentally friendly.

In all cases, the trend that we see is that the awareness of the consumer is increasing and the common man is asking questions to the fashion retailers, thus forcing the retailers to adapt ethical practices in fashion business. In the coming years, the consumer voice and the activities of the interest groups is expected to get stronger pushing for ethical rules to be brought in place holding the International Retailers responsible to ensure they follow ethical practices as well as ensure their suppliers follow the same.


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