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Fair Fashion: Education for Sustainable Consumption

Elements of education for sustainability include raising awareness and spreading information about the consequences of climate change, human rights and how the world market operates. Who is responsible for doing that?

Symbolbild zu Schaufensterpuppen Mode Trends Bild: Fotolia/Firma V #30016377

The media, of course, shed light on the reasons why certain lifestyles are neither sustainable nor responsible. Civil society organizations frequently assume this role as well, as do political representatives. But rarely does one particular factor in the equation come to mind, which in most cases contributes the least to sustainability: the economy.

An entire industry has evolved whose survival relies on creating awareness for sustainable production. That includes companies and corporations that market fair-trade and organic products. They not only have to inform potential customers about environmental damage and human rights violations in the production chain and thus the benefits of buying sustainably produced items; they also have to explain how to identify whether products genuinely fit into that category. One economic sector making strides in that direction is the fashion industry.
Fair-trade items of clothing are no longer confined to bulky, uncomfortable cotton sweaters. They've now reached the runways of high-profile fashion centers. To sell their products to customers who buy fair-trade textiles, companies not only have to convince clients of their philosophy and that the items are worth the higher price. They also have to prove that their textiles were manufactured according to good conditions. But it's a complex topic - and who wants to read through long, ethical reports while shopping at the store?

With the rise of social media networks, smaller labels can now advertise cheaply and more easily assert themselves on the global market. Online shopping has made it possible for fashion labels to save intermediary and vendor costs, and in turn charge lower prices. Last but not least, digital media channels have caused more attention to be drawn to information about production conditions.

This panel discussion will explore questions such as: How can companies get their message across to consumers, especially those not yet committed to socially responsible practices? How can they be motivated to seek fair conditions in the fashion industry. What role do the media play in that? How do you make organic products appealing? International participants in this workshop will also gain insight into the design and distribution of fair products in Europe. The panelists will also address subjects such as the amount of educative content that is suitable for fashion magazines and how online and social media can bridge the gap between marketing, background information and consumer prices.

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