The downward spiral of fashion today harms people, animals, and the planet. Ethical Fashion is trying to stop this, but at the same time, it is trying to be spread through the systems of Prevailing Fashion. A second problem that occurs next to the fact that it can’t be spread, is that the closing the cycle of Ethical Fashion itself is being blocked because most of the time the designers and manufacturers forget about the role of the consumers in the cycle. Here the use and disposal of clothing is being ignored and so the impact of all the effort is almost none and the garment ends up to the garbage or the clothing containers which then encumber the fashion industry of the countries where the garments are being sold for very cheap prices.
The relationship people have with a brand today is of low quality. Consumers do not have a bond with the brand, especially since the digital revolution allows us to find information about what happens behind the scenes, for example in sweatshops. Because of this low-quality relationship brands need to strategically keep presenting themselves as desirable for ensuring the sustaining of the company.
Also, the relationship that people have with their clothes is of low quality. Most people don’t consider the fact that actual people have made it possible for one to participate in society dressed as chosen. People do not appreciate the garments because of the lack of actual understanding of their value. The interaction with the creators of the garment (resource farmer, designer, producer, sewer) has become abstract and invisible today, causing the appreciation and the gratitude to have almost disappeared. The garment as well is being treated as a utensil which can easily be replaced by another most of the time, since there are so many cheap options available. This is where a shift in our thinking has to happen. The focus today is on Relational Design. A designer always had to work in relation to a user and more or less pay attention to the function of a product. Fashion designers also had to incorporate modesty and decoration in their work, since fashion has more of a psychological side to it than the products we use only functionally. According to J.C. Flugel the tension between modesty and decoration is key in fashion.
Slow Fashion claims that one way to initiate slow fashion is to develop personal style. Finding an independent personal style freeing the user from the fast pace fashion cycles, is part of the foundation towards slowing down the fashion industry. “Slow fashion requires a changed infrastructure and a reduced output of goods.” Slow fashion is closer to local resources, small-scale production and traditional techniques. The ideology promotes the uniqueness through traditional manufacture and defends mass-production. Supporting local business will nurture the idea of belonging to a place, through which identity and emotions will be bonded to the garment. Every item is then ‘writing’ its own story along the production process. This will create a new kind of relationship between product, maker and user (Fletcher & Grose, 2012).
Consumers have a responsibility to know where their clothes are coming from and how they were made. In this current wave of sustainable fashion, we, as consumers, must educate ourselves in order to make informed decisions. It is up to us to make the positive changes that designer and brands will have no choice but to follow.