Now that is the question that will create a divide between men and between women, and between the sexes. On Thursday 30th May I spoke about feminism on the panel at Mamoq‘s positive pop up alongside Charlotte Bingham founder of From Belo and Paola Masperi, founder of Mayamiko to discuss how we can turn the fashion industry into a source of female empowerment.
It is estimated that 80% of garment workers are women, and many of these women are forced to work in poor conditions for long hours on little pay. So can we really call ourselves a feminist while still wearing shirts made at the detriment of other women?
What are you thoughts, do you think fashion is a feminist issue?
Personally I think fashion affects women, in so many ways. But the solution isn’t going so far fempower that we alienate men. After all if we exclude them, we’re no better than the system we’ve been trying to break. Equality is for both sexes. Let’s not forget there are some amazing male feminists out there that want to see women treated as equals too.
The Power of our Spending – where we shop matters
I think as women we sometimes underestimate our power to influence the system. Our spending power when it comes to the economy is HUGE!!!
In 2018, women were estimated to control about $40 trillion in consumer spending across the world. (Source: Boston Consulting Group)
That’s insane right? That’s no chump change. When we think about it as a collective the impact is more motivating. Imagine if we all committed to spending 10% of our usual budget on ethical brands.
Whilst we may not feel empowered when we hear the stories about the fashion industry (I won’t go on about the negatives, but you get the jist: unfair labour, exploitation, abuse are just a few of the issues that women in the supply chain in other countries face as garment workers in factories), I want you to know, that you can, and we can do all do something!!
Simply changing our shopping habits and transitioning to a more ethically produced wardrobe is a way for us to make fashion a force for good. Where we shop matters.
It’s up to us to be the change – and wear our values
Inevitably, given women control the purse strings when we look at global consumption of fashion, it will be down to us, the women who wear the clothes to make a stance if we want to see a change.
If we demand better, and use our consumer choices as powerful votes, we can help drive change. We can help create that ‘demand’ and bring the costs down so ethical fashion is no longer perceived as a luxury for the privileged.
By supporting brands that are on Ethical Brand Directory and platforms like Mamoq we can be shopping activists. We can use our spending power, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to you as one person; if we all committed to buying 1 thing from an Ethical Brand instead of 1 from the high-street – as a collective, that impact is significant.
Ethical fashion has come a long way in the past 5-years, I agree there are still lots of gaps, but the selection is far greater and more diverse than it once was. For those who favour the more ‘casual look’ there are so many new and exciting brands to choose from:
Let me know your views on this subject matter, I think feminism and fashion has a much deeper more complex set of subjects within it, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
And what, if any, was the last ethical fashion purchase you made and why?
Roberta is the founder of Ethical Brand Directory and Roberta Style Lee. She is a speaker, coach and sustainable stylist. You can connect with her on Instagram: @robertastylelee and on Facebook: @robertastylelee