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Ethical fashion and Fair Trade fashion are often used synonymously. The lines between the two can be blurred or crossed quite easily. However, as the author of a recent article on Bustle pointed out: “The truth is, there is a difference between ethical and fair trade fashion — and that difference matters when you’re trying to make the smartest shopping decisions possible. Of course, buying clothes that are labeled either way is a big step forward towards being a conscientious consumer, but we can always educate ourselves even more.”

In this article: http://www.bustle.com/articles/79529-ethical-vs-fair-trade-fashion-because-the-difference-definitely-matters

The author discusses the differences between the two terms. Including definitions (Fair trade relates to workers being justly compensated while ethical fashion is “an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment.”), branding and factory conditions.

While the discussion is definitely insightful. The truth is, for the average consumer the distinction shouldn’t necessarily matter. As long as a brand or designer is genuinely adopting ethical, sustainable and/or fair trade practices. It is a positive step in the right direction. The key is transparency so that the consumer understands the journey of their product from fibre to store shelve.

The distinction does matter if you are not sure about the reliability of the claims made by a producer. In this case, “ethical” can often be used to mask processes that might not truly fall under this category.

So while a lot of work and discussion has been made around the discussion of these definitions and how they can be applied. The focus should likely be on ensuring companies know how to be transparent and express their intentions in an understandable way to consumers.