Siena works in sustainable fashion so her wardrobe story is a tale of ethical consumerism. Her elegant prairie-style dress had been on her wish-list for a long time, but she wasn’t going to buy it new because of her ethical qualms with fast fashion. However, a sustainable fashion influencer on Siena’s feed had discovered the dress at a charity shop so she knew exactly where to look to find it second hand. Similarly, Siena had scouted this Urban Outfitters jumper when it was released originally but had held off buying it new, eventually it popped up on Depop and she couldn’t resist. Her shoes are classic Vejas, a staple of the socially conscious consumer on account of their ethical labour practices and sustainable material use in production. She recalls buying them when she first became interested in ethical fashion. Although she now acknowledges that taking part in conscious consumption does not simply involve shopping from “sustainable” brands, it's much more complex than that, there’s a whole lifestyle shift that needs to take place.
“When Vejas became popular and I started getting into sustainable fashion, it was a cult thing to buy. I wear them all the time so they are useful to me, they’re a classic example of buying into sustainability before I realized that that’s not actually even that sustainable.”Information is an essential part of this lifestyle shift. A huge part of the problem with the fashion industry is that people are not always aware of what they’re buying. ‘Greenwashing’ and ‘woke-washing’ is on the up and up in the industry, while at the same time, brand transparency is criminally low meaning that human and environmental exploitation continue largely unimpeded. Fashion Revolution, a leading activism group campaign for ethical practice in fashion, has published The Fashion Transparency Index 2021, ranking 250 of the world’s fashion brands and retailers based on their disclosure of information about their social and environmental practices. This report reveals a stark reality: 99% of major fashion brands do not disclose the number of workers in their supply chain that are being paid a living wage; Fewer than 10% of brands publish a policy to pay suppliers within 60 days, meaning that clothes are often worn by consumers before brands have paid the factories that made them; Most carbon emissions occur at processing and raw material levels and while 62% of big brands publish their carbon footprint in their own facilities, only 26% disclose this information at processing and manufacturing level and only 17% do so at raw material level. Transparency is only the first step in establishing ethical practice in fashion.