There is an emerging code of ethics making its way through the fashion industry. This global movement is gaining momentum. Designers, manufacturers and distributors are addressing ethical concerns such as the fur debate, sweatshop labor, outsourcing, environmental impact, global trade and fashion-inspired body-image disorders.
In 2006, the fashion industry in Italy embraced an informal code of ethics aimed at fighting anorexia and bulimia. Stylists, agents and photographers within the region signed unofficial agreements to not use under-age models and beefed up the model size for runway shows.
Regulations & Guidelines
In the United States, fashion is an industry with few regulations. Compliance with minimum wage affects onshore production which spurred the industry to head offshore. Underage labor and sweatshops are illegal in the United States, causing the bulk of American designers to move production elsewhere. Fashion, like most industries, is governed by profit.
Companies involved in fashion are aware, however, of public opinion and its potential impact on their profit line. In the 1980s and '90s when consumer approval of fur dropped, fur sales vanished. Fashion learned a pricey lesson. Its response to consumer concerns is the emerging fashion code of ethics.
E. T. I. or the Ethical Trade Initiative has created a Global Sourcing Marketplace to ensure fashion designers and manufacturers have access to an ethical supply chain. Eco Fashion World uses its website to spotlight small designers and artisans who abide the rules of fair trade.
Headed by Diane Von Furstenberg, New York's fashion powers have added to fashion's code of ethics by seeking regulation protecting creative property. Going beyond what is now protected, (logos and line-for-line designs) ideas and trends would become off-limits to knock-off designers such as Forever 21.