The fashion industry doesn’t get the greatest rap when it comes to worker’s rights or sustainability. As to the former, there was that notorious Condé Nast lawsuit regarding unpaid internships. Then there’s the reality of certain modeling agencies exploiting their charges. Add to those the rampant manufacturing violations and you have just a few examples of fashion’s Devil Wears Prada-esque attitude towards its employees. When it comes to sustainability, well, you’ve likely heard the stats: Consumers across the globe buy about 80 million pieces of clothing annually. The fashion sector, worth about $2.5 trillion, is the second most polluting industry on Earth, bested only by oil. Suffice it to say neither Karl Marx nor Mother Nature is very pleased with us fashionistas right now.
However, before you vow to stop shopping forever, let us point out that the industry is making strides on both fronts. For example, this week Nike, the world’s largest athletic gear company, not only granted full-time workers paid leave, it also announced it now uses recycled materials in 71 percent of its footwear and apparel products. (more…)