The fashion industry is massive and highly influential. With an estimated market worth of over $3 trillion, the industry employs hundreds of millions of people globally. Unfortunately, this does not mean the fashion industry provides stable grounds for a profitable economy, as millions of garment workers face poverty, health risks, and hunger.
On top of this, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, out-ranked only by the oil industry. The fashion supply chain is often complex and hard to track down, as it crosses over numerous other industries such as agriculture, manufacture, retail and marketing. Conventional cotton also has a huge effect on the environment as it is one the highest impact crops and requires more chemicals to cultivate than any other crop in the world.
However, there are fashion professionals all over the world who are trying to make things better and build a profitable fashion business that respects people and the environment.
In light of this knowledge I sat down for a chat with a woman who is focused on the need to create a more sustainable and ethical method to clothe ourselves.
Her name is Simone Schroeter, and she has done much of the groundwork for those of us who may not know where to begin supporting more ethically friendly companies. She has been collating fashion professionals who are ethically creating sustainable clothing with a supply chain that is easy to track down and placing them in the one location.
In December 2015, Miss Schroeter created The Ethereal Edit, an online platform so named for its aim to aid in the Cultural Revolution of sustainable living that is teaching people to “tread lightly and live authentically.”
“I focus on finding out the stories behind fashion designers or labels that are trying to move towards more sustainable or ethical practices,” Schroeter explains as my coffee is being placed on the table between us.
“Are you sure you don’t want anything?” I ask her politely. She simply shakes her head in thanks and tells me she is full from a large lunch. We are sitting in a large café with windows mounted from the floor to the ceiling that reveal a calm grey sky outside.
“I had wanted to do something else creative,” she begins telling me about how she started up the blog. “I had been looking at [doing] something online that involved natural beauty products or ethical fashion, and in the end I started The Ethereal Edit and just started writing about it.”
The Ethereal Edit, such as other online entities like it, is an outlet where Miss Schroeter, as an informed individual, educates those interested in helping the cause to create a more sustainable society. A part-time digital strategist for WelleCo and yoga teacher at Beyondbeing Yoga Studio and Yogaworx – two of Perth’s prominent yoga studios – Simone calls The Ethereal Edit her passion project.
“The true cost of fashion and the fast fashion industry that we have today is that it churns out new styles and new clothing every week. And people are thinking they have to keep up with that, and that’s impacting on the environment, and it’s impacting on the people in the countries that make all the clothes.”
Another online platform that is doing a similar thing by making ethical manufacturing processes clear and helping designers choose more ethical supply chains is Ethical Fashion Forum. In 2011, Ethical Fashion Forum launched The Source Database, a groundbreaking social enterprise designed to transform the livelihood of 2.5 million people in the developing world and significantly reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry. The database provides more sustainable options for designers to employ, making the process more thoroughly ethical.
One hopes that, one day, sustainable fashion will simply be known as ‘fashion’. Blogs like The Ethereal Edit help push this movement forward by informing us about different designers and companies whose policies are focused on steering us all towards a more sustainable future.