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Being ethical and fashionable is jolly expensive

Published 16th October 2009 - 4 comments - 1295 views -

Eloise Gray sells tweedIt's winter. It's cold and it's time to wrap up in something warm. So, is £1,030 a lot of money to spend on a good winter coat? Or would the price be less painful it you knew that this rather large sum will get you a coat made of organic tweed, which will last a lifetime? And because the tweed naturally resists water and dirt, it is very low-impact to maintain. As well, it is woven by the Isle of Mull Weavers at Ardalanish Organic Farm in Scotland, where Aeneas and Minty Mackay aim to sustain the traditional art of weaving of the Hebrides. Eloise Gray sells fashion, tweed, ecology and the superior feeling that comes from knowing that one is been green and good.

The price of being an eco fashionista is high, no doubt. Here's another example: jeans. Except we're not talking any old jeans here. We're wearing Sharkah Chakra denim. For £220, I fancy myself in a pair of gorgeous Sharkah Chakra vintage straight fit sunbaked whites, with "a classic straight silhouette", and, what's more, "The classic red and white selvedge is detailed on the inside seam and inside fly." Nice touch, that.

The £220 price tag comes with the Sharkah Chakra declaration that: "We aim to care for all the artisans involved in making our denims; the Fairtrade cotton farmers, the indigo farmers, the indigo dyeing craftsmen, the hand loom weavers, the tailors and the laundry masters. Creating a circle where everybody benefits from the work that we do."

Two questions: Does this kind of "ethical" clothing, given its costs, exacerbate the divide between the eco elites and the shabby masses? And, are such prices "ethical"? 

Category: Agriculture, | Tags: fashion, organic, fair trade, cotton, ecology, weather,


Adela on 16th October 2009:

In the last 2 years or so, the organic clothes industry boosted sky high. Many companies simply saw an opportunity & took advantage of the ‘eco’ trend to increase their profits.

To answer your questions, I don’t think the gap between social classes is exacerbated, simply because the “ethical” products follow the same line as every other garment on the market. Whoever doesn’t afford to pay for a pair of Sharkah Chakra (or Prada, Chanel, etc) now, will buy it on sale smile

And no, prices are not ‘ethical’ but there will always be a high-end fashion consumer that will pay it without asking themselves ‘ethical’ questions.

Ruth Spencer on 16th October 2009:

in this case, the divide between a classic tweed and an eco-tweed isn’t just a matter of a couple hundred pounds/dollars. it’s a matter of many many hundreds. the market these brands are catering to is the elite - and i don’t blame them. so often it’s the couture that sets styles and changes trends until they trickle down to us (the masses) - Devil Wear’s Prada, anyone? the question is, how many people who would spend that kind of cash on a tweed coat anyway would prefer the homemade panache of organic to a luxe chanel?

Nanne Zwagerman on 17th October 2009:

People are used to dealing with clothes as throwaway items that they need a lot of, to be able to vary their style. Variation is vital because we can’t be seen in something Anna Wintour says is over.

I’d rather have people pay a bit more for quality and cut down their wardrobes. The problem is that you’d need to be able to recognise it (I know I can’t). So, if you’re seriously buying this coat to wear as a winter coat for 30 years or so, it’s alright to pay that much money.

gucci shoes online on 10th February 2010:

Quality things have always been expensive and they will be no cheaper, taking into consideration the deterioration in environment. Of course, such high prices aren’t “ethical”, anyway, but the expenses of the eco-products’ manufacturers are higher as well. So everyone chooses what to wear and what not to wear. I don’t think the divide line between different social classes has a lot to do with this problem. It’s just a matter of personal choice.

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