Ecochic Magazine the inspiring green glossy for EcoChic lifestyle lovers.

Made-By, the little blue button with a big fashion impact agenda

Made-By, the little blue button with a big fashion impact agenda


Ethical Fashion has emerged and some of the big fashion names are evidently pressing the blue button for green impact.

For the first time in its history, London Fashion Week 2010 reserved a slot in it’s packed, A-list schedule for a catwalk dedicated entirely to ethical fashion. With Erin O’Connor modelling and well known designers such as Stella McCartney alongside newer and smaller labels, the British Fashion Council have embraced the interest in this growing ethical and fairtrade fashion market. UK ethical fashion accessory company Bottletop are thriving with celebrity fans including Livia firth, VV Brown, Paris Hilton, Peaches Geldof, Miriam Clegg and many more.

The key questions

The ethical fashion arm of LFW known as Estethica. In its ninth season, sponsored by Monsoon, 2010 saw a first in a collaboration over guidelines with not-for-profit agency ‘Made-By’. Together they have redefined the key questions which designers and brands should ask themselves. For example, how can intelligent design reduce the social and environmental impact of a product’s lifecycle? What are the social costs of your production process? Does it take a lot of water to make your fabrics and have you tried to decrease the mileage of your transportation process?

Made-By defined

MadeByMade-By follow the motto, “Fashion with respect for people and planet”. They have created a community of fashion brands united by their commitment to eco conscious end products. Although most have an ethical ethos or have already taken steps towards ethical clothing production, they are by no means 100% clean. The idea is that the umbrella platform of Made-By is a commitment to be transparent and engage in an ongoing process to improve the supply chain.

Track and Trace and the Blue Button

MadeBy IIMade-By have created their own label for the fashion industry, the Blue Button. Launched in 2006, this button appears next to the care label on the garment and signifies that the item has been produced in a people and environmentally friendly manner.

Brands joining the Made-By community must fill in a scorecard annually which is then displayed on the website so that progress is transparent. On top of this, the ingenious Track and Trace system means a code entered into the website allows you to see exactly who made your clothes, how and where. There is also an information section regarding the more nitty gritty details such the textile producers Social Accountability 8000 certification, world cotton prices, the effects of pesticides on workers and wildlife, and social policies in developing countries.

MADE-BY Track&Trace follows the trail of your clothes. With the MADE-BY code in your garment you can find out where your garment was made and by whom. In this way, MADE-BY brands open up the doors to the production process. They can’t guarantee that all their clothes have been manufactured in a 100% clean and honest way. A garment completes numerous stages before it ends up in a store, and brands do not have the power or resources at their disposal to change all of these stages for the whole collection in one go. But in the meantime, they show their progress. MADE-BY Track&Trace is the very first system to trace the origin of clothes. It is however, easy to be cynical. What gives Made-By its credentials? Why are the brands committed all smaller labels that fall in the eco category as opposed to brands we might find on the highstreet?

Firstly, Made-By is itself an initiative of international development organisation Solidaridad. Using twenty years experience in creating sustainable supply chains and fair trade systems, Solidaridad support Made-by in advising how to clean up the manufacturing process by outlining strategies around issues such as working conditions, organic cotton, and achieving environmental and social certifications.

Of the thirty six brands on the Made-By website, it is true that most are well known only in the ethical fashion space. Particularly popular are those such as Kuyichi, Edun (run by Ali Hewson, Bono’s wife) and Imps and Elves stocked by Selfridges. Ted Baker seems to be the only mainstream name on the list but there is no Track and Trace option for them and they don’t mention Made-by on their website (although they do state they don’t use sweat shops and have signed up to carbon reduction commitments in their company policy).

A call for greater transparency

Many of the bigger brands would find it hard to lay open their production process for all to see. There is nothing glamorous about child labour or 80 hour weeks for £5 wages. The likes of Primark, Tesco and H&M have this year alone come under great criticism for their supply chain management and hazardous orking conditions in third world factories. For the moment however let us commend those that are leading by example such as Stella McCartney and Monsoon and hundreds of many smaller ethical fashion labels and those who have listened to criticism such as Timberland and Nike. And let us note that with the Director of Corporate Sustainability for the Gucci Group, and representatives from the Central School of St Martins as part of the LFW Estethica Advisory Board, the mainstreaming of ethical fashion is likely to be sooner than we may think.

For information on ethical fashion

EcoChic Magazine


The Ethical Fashion Forum

Labour behind the Label

Ethical Trading Initiative

Fashion Futures 2025, Forum for the Future

Top Image: Ethical Fashion Label Ada Zanditon, Winner of the 2010 EFF Innovation Award.

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