Know the Difference: Ethical vs. Sustainable

Know the Difference: Ethical vs. Sustainable

Are you confused about what certain fashion terms mean? Is there a difference between sustainable and ethical fashion? Keep reading to know more.


Ethical fashion is an umbrella term to describe ethical fashion design, production, retail, and purchasing. It looks into the fair treatment of garment workers, the health and well-being of the communities which may be affected by the process of making the garment, occupational health standards, workers’ rights, child labor laws, safety standards, the effect that the company has on the community it is a part of, and animal welfare. 

Some issues around ethical fashion

  • Concerns are often raised about exploitative working conditions in the factories that make cheap clothes for the high street. 
  • Child workers, alongside adults, can be subjected to violence and abuse such as forced overtime, unhygienic surroundings, bad food, and very poor pay. The low cost of clothes on the high street means that the workers who actually made them receive even less.
  • Cotton provides much of the world’s fabric, but some manufacturers who grow it still use insecticides and pesticides, chemicals that are harmful not only to our environment, but also to the farmers who grow it.

  • Some cotton textile growing practices are considered unsustainable because of environmental damage, and high water consumption required for cotton production and dyeing. 
  • Many animals are farmed to supply fur for the fashion industry, and many people feel that their welfare is an important part of the ethical fashion scene. 


Sustainable fashion focuses primarily on the environmental concerns of the garment industry. A sustainable and environmentally-responsible brand considers their design process and tries to have minimal or no waste. They consider fabrics, threads, buttons, and other materials, and where they’re sourced from. They look at energy consumption, recycling, and packaging. The best sustainable brands are now working on circularity in the supply chain and the end of life processes of a garment once consumers are done wearing it. 

According to Green Strategy, “Sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes and , accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects. In practice, this implies continuous work to improve all stages of the product’s life cycle, from design, raw material production, manufacturing, transport, storage, marketing and final sale, to use, reuse, repair, remake and recycling of the product and its components.” 

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