Calling on Australia to source fashion ethically

29 May 2013
ITC News
ITC calls on industry leaders to buy from artisans in developing countries, ensure safe working conditions

Paris may be the fashion capital of the world, but the industry’s biggest names are now turning to developing countries to source ethically produced goods. The Australian Financial Review (AFR) Magazine hosted the Bespoke Luxury and Fashion Summit earlier this month, where the International Trade Centre (ITC) called on industry leaders to partner with artisans in developing countries by buying their products, giving them a chance to fight poverty through higher incomes.

ITC’s Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) was invited to address the 1,700 people at the inaugural Bespoke summit, held at the Sydney Opera House on 16 May. Mr Simone Cipriani, EFI’s Chief Technical Adviser, delivered a presentation called, ‘Making Fashion Fair’, in collaboration with sass & bide designers Ms Sarah-Jane Clarke and Ms Heidi Middleton, as well as its CEO, Mr David Briskin. The purpose of the speech was to call on luxury fashion brands to realize the business sense of sourcing ethically made products from Africa.

During his portion of the presentation, Mr Cipriani stressed the importance of ensuring good working conditions for labourers in developing countries, referencing the April 24 collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 people, making it the worst garment-industry disaster in history. The collapse was the latest in a series of disasters that resulted in the deaths and injuries of thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers.

Not to die for

‘Do we need another disaster such as the one in Bangladesh before there is any change? Fashion is never, ever, to die for,’ Mr Cipriani said during his speech.

The Bespoke conference also featured other leading stakeholders in the fashion industry, including supermodel Ms Coco Rocha; the sister designers behind the Australian label Zimmerman; Business of Fashion founder Mr Imran Amed; editor-in-chief of the online men’s retailer Mr Porter, Mr Jeremy Langmead; and chief executive officer of J Brand, Mr Jeff Rudes.

The Ethical Fashion Initiative connects artisans in Africa and Haiti with fashion businesses around the world. The focus is on empowering women by training them to produce high-quality products that meet the standards of the industry’s leading companies. The ultimate goal in assisting workers in developing countries is to enable them to export their products to earn decent wages, fight poverty and improve the circumstances of their families and communities.

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