What is the Difference between Ethical and Sustainable Fashion?
For many women, and you are most likely one of them, fashion is all about self-expression. You decide how you want to come across with the pieces of clothing and accessories that you choose to wear. This might mean picking a certain color or design or even a brand that you feel best expresses the kind of person you are or want to be.
However, your fashion style is just one aspect of self-expression. What you support through your purchasing power is a vital form of self-expression. Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of that lovely dress you are wearing – from the gathering of materials, the production process, up to the distribution of the merchandise? Each of these steps tells a story and we all, with our fashion choices, form a part of that story.
Maria Andretta, founder of Wyohflowers, hopes to make our role in that story one that helps heal the environment and lift people from poverty. Wyohflowers Ethical Fashion & Impact Boutique is home to unique fashion pieces that are ethically sourced, support indigenous communities and artisans as well as sustainable consumerism. That is the main difference between ethical fashion and sustainable fashion—the former is broader than the latter. While sustainable fashion focuses on sustainability of the processes and materials used in the production of fashion items, ethical fashion means more. Ethical Fashion is a movement in the fashion industry that advocates, practices, and patronizes fashion items produced in a manner that respects human rights and uplifts the dignity of persons. While sustainable fashion focus on caring of the environment, ethical fashion’s focus is the uplifting of the dignity of the human person—the worker or artisan as well as the end consumers, the labor employed, the processes and materials used, the design and the end usage of the fashion pieces. Inevitably, ethical fashion also includes sustainable fashion.
How Can Fashion Be Ethical and Sustainable?
For years, ethical and sustainable fashion is not a common topic of conversation in the fashion industry. Fast fashion magazines usually talk about fashion models, colors, designs and their designers, and every aspect that appeals to the eyes.
What many fashion magazines do not talk about is what goes on behind the scenes. Behind those pieces of clothing and accessories, there are workers involved in getting hold of materials and putting them together to create that beautiful item that you have your eyes on. More often than not, big fashion brands outsource the production of their pieces in China, Cambodia, or some other third-world country to ensure a large profit margin. Workers are generally paid very meagre wages and have to labor in substandard sweatshop conditions. This is not ethical.
With the advent of ethical fashion movement is the awareness that each piece of clothing or accessory represents a person with rights and needs to be supported and fairly rewarded in exchange for his or her time, labor, and talent. The fashion pieces offered are handmade by artisans – skilled, creative individuals in search of fair livelihood, appreciation of their indigenous culture, respect for their rights. Wyohflowers Ethical Fashion & Impact Boutique offers just that and in addition, the end profits are donated in support of students living in extreme poverty as well as for healthcare support. With each purchase of a Black Cherry Beads Statement Bib Necklace or a Blue Hand Embroidered Mini Dress, you help support artisans living in extreme poverty, persons with disabilities or survivors of abuse, and those with a significant barrier for mainstream employment. Profits raised through the sell of items in Fashion For Education Collection are donated in support of girls in extreme poverty and without the means to continue with online studies for lack of necessary resources.
Sustainable Materials for Sustainable Fashion
Another aspect worthy of concern in fashion is its sustainability. Plenty of clothing items these days are made from fabrics like polyester (a petroleum by-product), acrylic, or nylon. Your favorited top or pair of jeans most likely got its beautiful colors from dyeing practices that release chlorine, chromium, and other pollutants into the environment. These pollutants pose health risks to farmers and assemblers, and you, the consumer. Besides this, 7 of the top 15 pesticides for non-organic crops used for fabric production are known to be cancerous.
Sustainable fashion utilizes ecological or earth-friendly materials. Where else could you find a collection of fashion pieces made of natural fibres such as linen, abaca, cotton, bamboo, piña and other natural resources? Just marvel the beauty of the piña midi dress made of natural pineapple fibres or the handwoven natural grass straw bag made out of pandan fibres!
To help conserve the planet, Wyohflowers artisans also upcycles metal and fabric scraps, that would have filled the landfills and the pollute the ocean, into beautiful fashion pieces.
Waste scraps from big corporations, like excess fabric from curtains in a five-star hotel, were salvaged and innovatively crafted into beautiful bags and accessories.
The T’boli Tribe in Southern Philippines, well known for their skills in blacksmith and jewellery-making, rummages metal scraps, melts them down and recrafts them into beautiful one-of-a-kind jewellery. These hard-to-find items are what you will discover in these Upcycled Collection.
Ethically Made and Fairly Traded Fashion
Maria Andretta envisioned Wyohflowers not mainly as a profitable business but as a social enterprise. While she promotes her own handcrafted pieces, Maria carefully vets indigenous artisans and works with trusted organizations to source sustainable and fair-trade pieces from indigenous communities in the Philippines. Her advocacy in ethical fashion and fair-trade drives her to support workers’ rights, campaign for fair trade practices, and encourage sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.
Aside from these, Wyohflowers cares about fashion and the women wearing their clothes and accessories. Wyohflowers believes that creating a real fashionable piece takes time and that shopping can benefit both the shopper, and everyone involved in the item’s creation. An artisan’s attention to details will eventually mean a better piece of clothing or accessory for you.
By buying a fashion piece that is ethically made, fairly traded or ethically sourced, you can be putting a hard-up youth through to school, providing a source of income to home-based business owners, or making sure that local small businesses thrive, all while looking and feeling good. You can happily carry your Palawan Handloomed Grass Bag or Rectangular Palawan Natural Straw Bag knowing that something so beautiful also helps make the world a better place.
Are Ethical, Sustainable Clothing and Accessories Good for You?
At this point, you may be wondering, “Why should I join the ethical and sustainable fashion revolution? What’s in it for me?”
By joining the ethical and sustainable fashion movement, you are using your purchasing power to change the way fashion is made. Gone are the days when the only consideration is how an item looks on you. That is important, too, of course, but coupled with looking great, we, worthy women, can change the world.
Ethical fashion respects you, the consumer or end-user of the fashion pieces. It uses healthy, sustainable fabrics and biodegradable materials (like organic cotton, hemp, bamboo), and reclaimed, recycled, or upcycled materials, natural materials that are non-carcinogenic and not toxic to the skin. The colors you see in an ethically sourced fashion piece come from low-impact fibre-reactive dyes as well as vegetable dyes that are guaranteed not to cause environmental damage. This means that the Tribal Green-toned Cotton Cordilleran Shawl or Orchid Purple Handwoven Cotton Shawl are not only beautiful additions to your wardrobe but they are also kind to your skin.
Through ethical fashion, the environment is conserved for future generations to enjoy the goodness of this earth. By using your purchasing power to support an ethical and sustainable fashion business like Wyohflowers Ethical Fashion and Impact Boutique, you can look good and trendy without wasting your hard-earned money on mass-produced fashion pieces which pollute and contribute to the eventual death of this planet.
So, choose from our carefully vetted ethical fashion pieces, look good, feel good, while making a good impact and changing the world one ethical fashion piece at a time.