Clean Clothes

Fashioning an Ethical Industry across Europe

Between June 2008 and May 2010, the European Union are funding a European Fashioning an Ethical Industry project run by project partners in the UK, Poland, Austria and The Netherlands. The partners are also working to share their learning across other European countries during the course of the project. The project aims to support university, college and high school educators of fashion-related courses in incorporating social responsibility issues into their teaching - so their students develop a sense of social responsibility towards garment workers and are equipped to contribute to more socially responsible policies and practices in the industry.

The Netherlands: Fair Fashion – Schone Kleren Campagne

Fair Fashion: naar een eerlijke kledingindustrie (Fair Fashion towards a fair garment industry), is a Schone Kleren Campagne project designed for students at fashion colleges in The Netherlands. In all our activities we focus on the social aspects of garment production and by doing so we contribute to fairer working conditions for the workers that stitch our clothes. Fashion students have the opportunity and responsibility to design and do business in a fair way. Our responsibility lies therein to provide them with the tools and knowledge they need to discover their role in cleaning up the international fashion industry themselves. Hence our slogan: Upgrade your ethical fashion skills!

Fair Fashion mostly works with colleges that provide undergraduate and postgraduate courses on a polytechnic level like fashion branding, fashion management and fashion design. In the coming period we are looking to expand our activities to the different art academies and other educational institutions that offer fashion related courses and the community colleges (MBO).

Next to our web site that’s intended to be the starting point for all students interested in fair fashion, another important tool in the project are the Fair Fashion Files: a publication that’s a practical guide detailing what students could do, while at university and college, to engage with ethical issues in the fashion industry so that they – as the next generation of industry players – can fashion a more ethical industry in the future. The student manual is accompanied by a cd-rom for tutors containing a powerpoint presentation, images and other resources they can use and adapt in their classes. Fair Fashion also run tutor training and tours by speakers with expertise on workers’ rights. 

The reaction to the project so far have been very positive, both from students as tutors. Our past work has built a solid base for our future activities. The number of Fair Fashion Fans, active students that guide the project, are growing and we keep exploring and expanding our network of groups and individuals that want to contribute to our different activities which number is rising too. Fair Fashion has high hopes in the fair future of fashion!


Austria: My Design. My Responsiblity. - Südwind Agentur

Südwind Agentur coordinate the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) in Austria, which is focused on improving working conditions in the global garment and sportswear industry and empowering the workers in it. The Südwind Agentur project Mein Design. Meine Verantwortung. (My design. My responsibility.) builds on the work of the CCC by working with fashion schools and fashion educators about social and environmental responsibility in the clothing industry. The project provides a variety of opportunities for educators and students. Together with fashion educators we develop new study units and run training sessions for educators about social responsibility and methods for teaching. We are supporting fashion educators with their projects and give lectures and workshops in schools. We also do regular email-newsletter and provide a homepage where we inform about news, teaching materials and projects.

As well as participating in the European Fashioning an Ethical Industry project, Südwind Agentur’s coordinates global education centres and activities across Austria, produces international development media and lobbies decision-makers on a variety of global justice issues.


Poland: Fashioning an Ethical Industry - Polish Humanitarian Organisation

Raising awareness about the global dimension of our everyday purchases is a new approach in Poland and the Fashioning an Ethical Industry project in Poland has given us the opportunity to focus on workers’ rights and the interdependency between countries of the North and Sough.  Being part of a European project, means we can learn from other organisations with more experience in the field and can adapt materials, utilise resources such as a photo database and gain from the knowledge of these other organisations.

As social and environmental responsibility in the garment sector is a new subject within Poland, the project has focused on developing a website in Polish, creating Polish versions of teaching materials from partner organizations and publishing translated reports, articles and fact sheets.

We run training sessions for educators, students and volunteer trainers and make presentations at conferences.  The volunteer trainers act as multipliers for the project by running their own workshops.  We’ve also coordinated an exhibition, which travelled to educational institutions and student societies about working conditions in the garment industry and its environmental impact and ways to take action with the aim of mobilising students and other interested persons to engage in the project. A workers’ rights activist from China also toured the country to talk to student and educators.

During the first year of the project, social responsibility issues in the garment sector have risen in prominence in public debate and received widespread interest from media, tutors, NGOs and young people. We have worked with a number of Polish organisations (KARAT Coalition, Grupa eFTe, Polish Green Network, Against Gravity) who also added the global dimension to their educational programs, thus increasing the impact of the project.  .


UK: Fashioning an Ethical Industry – Labour Behind the Label

Fashioning an Ethical Industry in the UK was established as a result of requests for support and information from students and educators from UK fashion-related courses at higher and further education levels.  Teaching about socially responsible fashion in the UK has changed dramatically since the start of the project in 2005. Now well over 20 universities are teaching about the issues, specialist courses have been set up and research positions have been set up. 
Students and tutors use our website to find out more about workers’ rights in the fashion industry including over 20 factsheets and links to films, reports and images.  Educators can explore information about teaching resources, our student workshop programme and tutor training events, and students can find out about opportunities such as internships and competitions. We’ve also produced a student magazine ‘Sense’ that covers everything from business ethics to sourcing fair trade fabrics, packed full of industry tips and profiles of students designing an ethical industry.  Sense offers inspiration and ideas for students wanting to learn about ethics in fashion and get involved in creating change while at university or college.


"Corporate Social Responsibility - fashion, manipulation or strategy?" – Conference in Poland

Polish Humanitarian Organization (within “Fashioning an ethical industry” project) and Faculty of Economic Sciences and Management, Nicolas Copernicus University in Torun, informs about an interdisciplinary academic conference "Corporate Social Responsibility - fashion, manipulation or strategy?" which will be held on 10-12 December 2009 in Torun.

International Conference "Fast Forward"

From 2nd to 3rd March 2010 the International Conference about "Social Responsibility in the Garmentindustry" will take place in London!!