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The ethics of the fashion industry


‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ is the provocative title of the first ever Sustain Debate, a new event that will launch this month as a part of 2014’s Brighton Fashion Week.

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A panel including Caroline Lucas MP, Carry Somers and other renowned changemakers will be gathering to debate the ethics and sustainability of the fashion industry and its practices.

The event was conceived in the wake of the collapse of Rana Plaza, Bangladesh in 2013, and in support of the Fashion Revolution campaign started by Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro. Fashion Revolution highlighted the broken links in the fashion supply chain, and how little we really know about the journey our garments make before they get on shop shelves.

Bring it on, Brighton

Brighton has always identified with a stong ethos, where a One Planet Living attitude inspires a constant exploration of ways to celebrate a high quality of life within a fair share of the Earth’s resources.

Liz Bishop, Event Director at the Brighton Fashion Week, said, ‘Brighton is overflowing with moral thinking and fashion industry practices are not exempt from the discussion. We can all do our part in sharing existing resources and limiting new purchases, but the reality is that we are all still ‘consumers.’

‘We want to have an open discussion to educate ourselves about the hidden costs behind the things we buy.’ After being approached by Brighton and Hove Fair Trade Steering Group members Siobhan Wilson and Christine Gent, Liz seized the opportunity to use the event to draw public attention to the issues around ethics in fashion.

Ethics in fashion

As owner of the FAIR shop on Queens Road, Siobhan has become very outspoken about the fashion industry’s ethical issues since the factory collapse at Rana Plaza. She said, ‘So many people perceive that buying ethically is too expensive, yet so much of what we buy is sitting untouched in our wardrobe or going to waste. It just doesn’t make sense.

‘We hope that this event will really highlight this and offer solutions to people on any budget so that we can all consider the impacts of the buying choices we make.’

At 3pm on Friday 10 October, inside Brighton University’s Sallis Benney Theatre, a panel of key influencers will be debating the ethics and sustainability of the fashion industry, asking: What will it take for manufacturers to show model behaviour? Why is there such a difference between what we say and what we do? How can we move from ethical martyrs to everyday heroes?

In the green corner…

Insights and ideas on practices, profits, resource scarcity and globalisation will be shared by:
Caroline Lucas MP: MP for Brighton Pavilion and member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion
Purna Sen: Former Director of Human Rights at the Commonwealth Secretariat and Labour candidate for Brighton Pavilion
Carry Somers: Founder of Fashion Revolution and Pachacuti
Ben Ramsden: Founder of Pants to Poverty and Creator of 3D P&L
Tamsin Lejeune: CEO of the Ethical Fashion Forum

The inaugural Sustain Debate is one of the many inclusive and innovative events of the Brighton Fashion Week. ‘What we want’, says Liz, ‘is to gain a greater understanding of how our purchases can help us shape more sustainable business practices and a more responsible economy as a whole.’

Drop Dead Gorgeous: The Sustain Debate on ethics in fashion will take place on Friday 10 October, 15.00-16.30, at Sallis Benney Theatre, Brighton University, Brighton BN2 0JY. Tckets are available for £5 through Brighton Fashion Week.

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