How can we shop more ethically?

October 27, 2014 5:35 pm Published by

I  always feel that the sign of a good debate is when you come away with more questions than when you started. The first Sustain Debate, held by Brighton Fashion Week was one of those.

I try to be a sustainable clothes shopper: I buy second hand where possible and try to buy fewer pieces that will last longer in an effort to use fewer of our dwindling resources. Of course, I’m not immune to the odd thrilling impulse buy from cheaper high street stores like H&M… It happens more often than I’d care to admit.

But an awareness of resource scarcity is only a tiny part of the ethical fashion story. The session was kicked off by a thoughtful performance by Izzie Roffe-Silvester about the life of a garment, with a particular focus on the people making the garment. How often do we pause to think about all those hands that cut, dyed, sewed and shipped our throwaway chiffon dress from Primark that doesn’t quite fit? And ends up stuffed at the back of the wardrobe.

A lively debate followed with well known Brighton figure Caroline Lucas MP alongside sustainable fashion brands and advocates pioneering change in the industry: Carry Somers, Founder of Fashion Revolution and Pachacuti, Ben Ramsden, founder of Pants to Poverty, Tamsin Lejeune, CEO of the Ethical Fashion Forum and Purna Sen, Deputy Director of the Institute of Public Affairs at London School of Economics and Labour candidate for Brighton Pavilion.

The panel posed some key questions: How do we stop companies from moving countries where ethical standards are more lax? How can we create an effective international trade body that regulates working conditions and pay? And how can we arrive at a communal definition of what sustainability is?

Tamsin Lejeune ended the debate with an appeal to everyone in the room: She said: “For your next purchase, make it something good, that makes you feel empowered and empowered those who made your garment.” Who’s up for the challenge?

For more information on ethical fashion brands, have a look at the directory on or have a look at this list on The Guardian website:

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This post was written by Fugu PR