What is an ethical clothing brand?
An internet search for “ethical clothing brand” will give you lots of different content and opinions including articles using terms such as sustainable, eco-friendly, slow fashion, green …. Ethical can be defined as “that which relates to beliefs about what is morally right or wrong”, whereas sustainable means “able to continue over a period of time causing little or no damage to the environment”. These are two discrete concepts that the fashion industry has difficulty in separating or perhaps finds it less problematic to blur together.
Of course it is right to believe that an ethical clothing brand must operate in a sustainable way, causing a minimum of damage to the environment throughout the supply chain, and through the life cycle of a piece of clothing. But being an ethical fashion brand goes much further than that. The treatment of people and animals in the industry has been (and still is in most cases) immoral.
Within the global workforce, estimated at 3.4 billion people, some 430m work in fashion and textile production. Women make up 75% of factory-based garment workers and are paid wages that trap them in poverty and deny them the ability to sustain a basic decent life. This is a denial of their fundamental human rights. Culthread partners with an NGO founded by Annie Lennox called The Circle, whose mission is to fight for a fairer world for women and girls; their current project, EU Legislation on a Living Wage, is concerned with urging the EU to protect the (mostly) women who make our clothes from a lifetime of extreme poverty by introducing legislation to this effect.
A survey done by Labour Behind the Label found that of 32 big fashion brands, 31 could show no evidence of a living wage being paid to any workers. The single outlier, Gucci, was able to show that 25% or over (but below 50%) of their supply chain workers earned a living wage. For decades, fashion brands have profited from poverty wages, leaving garment workers with no security; Covid affected millions in the industry that had no legal protection and were simply not paid from one day to another, even their poverty wage.
Culthread is a PETA approved brand because we do not use any animal products at all, even those that profess to “cruelty free”. Unfortunately, certification around animal-based products such as natural down can be, and is, abused, and we do not believe that it is possible to be an ethical fashion brand whilst using products derived from animals, whether dead or alive.While we are doing all we can to move forward in the most sustainable way possible by using 100% recycled fabrics, insulation, trimmings, and thread in our products, at culthread we believe that it is as important to be an ethical clothing brand as it is to be a sustainable clothing brand. We pay wages above regional (higher than local or national) living wages, plus benefits, and we are a 100% cruelty free brand.