By Avril Groom
A decade ago, ethical and sustainable fashion was a minority interest in a world dominated on one side by high-end luxury apparently unconcerned with such matters, and on the other by fast fashion driven by cheap, quick production. Opinion formers found it hard to shake off suspicions that ethical fashion meant shapeless oatmeal tunics and hairy hand-knits. How times change.
Events like the Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013, which killed more than a thousand Bangladeshi garment workers, lifted an uncomfortable lid on dreadful working conditions.
At the top end, the work of people like Stella McCartney, with her commitment to beautiful, vegan and – where possible – environmentally sustainable fashion, Eco-Age founder Livia Firth who campaigns on both environmental and humanitarian fronts and whose film The True Cost reveals shocking facts about the global clothing industry, and Vivienne Westwood who has long used organic cotton, artisan wools and works with African women’s groups on production, have caused many consumers to re-examine their values.