Friday, March 19, 2010

How The Sa 8000 And Other Standards Are Shaking Up The Fashion Industry

Environmental, social and ethical pressures on the global textiles and fashion sector emerged in Europe in the early 1980s. The main driver was consumer concern over the safety of the materials. However, in parallel with this trend, a minority group of ethical consumers demanded chemical-free and low environmental impact clothing and fashion goods. This resulted in the European and later the U.S. organic labeling system being extended to include criteria for clothing and textiles, such as organic cotton. As of 2007, the sector was the fastest growing part of the global cotton industry with growth of more than 50% a year. Regarding safety standards, the Oeko-Tex standard has become highly popular in the industry. Although unknown to consumers, it tests for chemicals such as flame retardants in clothes and categorizes goods according to their likely exposure to humans (e.g. baby clothes must adhere to the strictest standards for chemicals). Thus the issue of chemicals in clothing has become largely one of liability risk control for the industry with the consumers obviously expecting products to pose no risk to their health. Organic and eco fashion and textiles attracts a far smaller, but fast growing group of consumers, largely in Western Europe and Coastal U.S.

Of far greater concern to the global fashion sector is the issue of worker welfare. The issue was highlighted by pressure groups such as
Global Exchange in the U.S. targeting Levis and Nike and others.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s anecdotal evidence began emerging from labor activists in the U.S. and Europe concerning the supply chains and overseas factories of leading U.S. and European multinationals. A key target was the world's leading maker of denim jeans Levi Strauss, but more significantly Nike, the world's largest sports shoe marketing firm. Global Exchange launched its Nike Anti Sweatshop campaign, focusing on the firms sourcing in China and Indonesia.

A good deal of negotiations and stakeholder meetings led to a generally accepted code of practice for labor management in developing countries acceptable to most parties involved. The SA 8000 emerged as the leading industry driven voluntary standard on worker welfare issues. SA 8000 supporters now include the GAP, TNT and others and SAI reports that as of 2008, almost 1 million workers in 1,700 facilities have achieved SA 8000 certification. The Fair Trade movement has also had a significant impact on the fashion business. The standard combines a number of ethical issues of potential concern to consumers environmental factors, fair treatment of developing country suppliers and worker welfare. The Fair Trade label has show explosive growth.

Albeit on a very small scale and not always at the top end of the fashion industry, many niche brands have emerged which promote themselves primarily on sustainability grounds. People Tree in the UK states that it creates Fair Trade and organic clothing and accessories by forming lasting partnerships with Fair Trade, organic producers in developing countries. Leading fashion journal Marie Claire ranked its top 10 eco brands in a recent issue. The key issues remain chemicals in clothing (certified by organic and Fair Trade labels), worker treatment (certified by SA 8000 and Fair Trade) and increasingly mainstream environmental issues such as climate change. The worlds largest fashion brand Louis Vuitton recently acquired a small eco fashion label. It is clear, however, from the example of Nike and Levis, that certain issues are here to stay, such as a demand by Western consumers that leading brands manage the issue of worker welfare in their supply chain properly.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How Fashion Movies Influence Society

Fashion is a general term for a currently popular style or practice, especially in clothing, foot wear, accessories and hairstyles. In recent years, it was commonly illustrated through portraits and several other artifacts showing entirely different forms of fashion. Fashion books and magazines are essential tools for everyone in fashion industry and mostly for individuals who always want to keep up with the latest trend.

Most of these books and magazines were written by fashion experts, who have a wide range of knowledge when it comes to appropriate attire and styles and have the capability to influence individuals choice and taste. On the other hand, fashion nowadays was likewise greatly exploited in the movies and music industries. Movie and music enthusiasts usually follow the style of their favorite icons, thus making the celebrities become trendsetters.

Fashion movies and music industries impact society. For instance, a teenager may choose to cut her hair for a short curly hairstyle or highlight it simply because her favorite star looks the same in a particular movie or her favorite rock star wears the same. These fashion trends have all happened at different times where people can simply copy their favorite celebrities after watching them on TV or going out to the movies. Media influence is an all important factor in todays society.

In India, Bollywood celebrities greatly influenced the latest fashion among young boys and girls because it uses glamorous look and standout fashion trends. From time to time, film makers create new exclusive designs and styles feature in the movies, which are accepted in everydays lifestyle. Fashion movies generally took advantage of the inherent theatrics of fashion. In Hollywood, on the other hand, several fashion movies greatly affect the viewers preference because of its standout and beautiful clothes and styles.

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys established little black dress as a fashion must-have. This style basically fit her long and thin body frame, and practically no curves interfere with the garment silhouette. In The Seven Year Itch, Marilyn Monroe standout at a particular movie scene where she wore white halter dress and got hit with a blast of cold air. The movie became so popular and was imitated by most women even equally famous celebrities.

While most of the clothes are a bit skimpy to have been worn in the 1920s, fashion designers did a great job evoking the jazz age in the movie Chicago, which is starred by Nicole Kidman and Catherine Zeta-Jones. If you like great music, clever cuts, and over-the-top costumes, then you will understand why Colleen Atwood won the Oscars Best Costume design for this movie.
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