Why Does All Ethical Fashion Look the Same?

While sustainable fashion does a lot of things well, bold colors and exciting patterns aren’t one of them, which has led Fashionista to wonder why most brands that pump consciousness are also pumping frustratingly similar, assertively neutral garms.

“The ethical fashion scene may be a still-burgeoning one, but it’s already a space with more than its fair share of minimalist brands,” the story says. However, if “ethical fashion is more about how something is made than its aesthetic,” then “why is there such a specific look so often associated with it?”

A couple of reasons. For starters, one blogger quoted in the piece noted that “’fun’ materials are simply not sustainable for brands to use or make” — like sequins or vinyl — and therefore, “she posits [that] it should be unsurprising if they rarely show up in ethical fashion spaces that involve primarily new, rather than used, clothing.”

Practicality was another chief cause for the homogeneity. “If you’re trying to create a piece of clothing that’s timeless enough to be worn over and over… that’s easier to accomplish with a foolproof color like black or navy than with a trendy hue like millennial pink or slime green,” which tracks.

But then there’s a slightly more virulent third reason: loud patterns and vibrant colors aren’t a staple, historically, of white people’s wardrobes. And because of this disparity, a few experts saw “a connection between ethical fashion’s most commonly presented aesthetic and the race of the often-privileged people who shape its narrative.”

“That’s not to say people of color always want to wear brights, or that they can’t enjoy wearing neutrals,” the story says. But “when the ethical fashion community overlooks the political and historical implications of dressing in… color and pattern in the name of versatility and ‘timelessness,’ it risks alienating a group of people who may use those former elements to connect to their heritage.”

And that alienation – intentional or not – is undoubtedly diminishing ethical fashion’s potential for positive impact. But the more inclusive the space gets, the more “[you’ll] see new points of view. More color, more innovation, more fashion-forward designs… [which] entices new people [to] shop ethically.”

You can read more about it at Fashionista.

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