What your clothing labels say about your ethics

shutterstock_247564159Next time you see a pair of $8 jeans on a rack, take a moment to think about how they got there—and how exactly they are $8.

This was one of the questions posed by Jordan Catalana, BS ’14, one of the panelists at the Fair Trade Club’s recent panel discussion on sustainability in the fashion industry.

Catalana, who now works at Kenneth Cole Productions, described fashion as “the second most wasteful industry on the planet”—a label that made everyone sit up and listen. She noted that for big retail companies, for whom margins are very small, being sustainable and ethical is exceptionally challenging.

Do you care where your thread is coming from when you are struggling to make a profit?

Catalana and her fellow panelists, Kate Black, founder of Magnifeco, and Andrea Reyes of the New York City Fair Trade Coalition, pointed out that even if companies aren’t making ethical choices, we can. As consumers, each of us gets to choose our brands.

They urged audience members to remember that their purchasing power can change fashion from the bottom up.

Prior to the panel, the audience heard from Kiera Maloney and Alyssa Rose, both FCRH ’17, whose small business, Radiate Market, is a member company in the Fordham Foundry. Radiate Market provides an online marketing platform for artists in developing regions; learn more about their work here.

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