Life & Faith

You Are What You Wear

August 30, 2018

People are prepared to pay the price for ethical fashion – and the industry is taking notice.

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“We believe that we won’t need to use the word ethical in the next five years - because that is what the fashion industry will be.”

Davyn de Bruyn has a bold vision – and he doesn’t think it’s too far out of reach. As the Managing Director of Thread Harvest, an ethical online fashion marketplace based in Australia, he knows that “people are prepared to pay more for ethical fashion”.

He’s not the only one who’s convinced the needle is moving in the fashion industry towards ethical wear.

Gershon Nimbalker puts together Baptist World Aid’s annual ethical fashion guide. It scores fashion companies – from Cotton On and Country Road, H&M to Zara, even major department stores like David Jones and Myer – and gives them a rating from A through to F.

The scoring criteria include company policies and how well they’re enforced, whether companies have a relationship with their suppliers, factory conditions, and worker wages.

“People are willing to pay the difference to get this right,” Gershon says.

And companies are starting to notice - but competing on price while achieving ethical standards in the fashion industry is not without its challenges.

“The one question mark we have with some of those fast fashion brands, is whether their business model is consistent with workers being paid a living wage,” Gershon says.

“The only brands that are paying a living wage, are usually niche ethical brands that are committed to working with workers from the ground up … and you often pay more for those products as well.”

For both Davyn and Gershon, their Christian faith is woven into their advocacy for ethical fashion.

Gershon says, “My faith has certainly crystallised for me the things that are really important – that commitment to make the world better, to make it just,” Gershon says. “Love transcends boundaries, it’s not just limited to my family and friends, but extends to wherever in the world there’s need.”

“When you look at a garment, you can immediately see where there’s a tear or a rip, and you’re drawn to it – but you go and repair it,” Davyn says. “In the Christian faith, we believe that you are created in the image and likeness of God, which means you have infinite value and worth. … If someone has infinite value and worth, then surely we should all have equal opportunity to thrive and enjoy the benefits of this beautiful world we were created to live in.”

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Read the 2018 Ethical Fashion Guide: www.baptistworldaid.org.au/resources/2018-ethical-fashion-guide

Shop at Thread Harvest: www.threadharvest.com.au

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