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    When Ethics Meet Fashion


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2006 

    © Pulse Iinvestments Limited 

    The world of fashion has a world of market opportunities. At a time when industries are consolidating and high-volume, low-cost manufacturing is a competitive driver, one new alternative is emerging. "Ethical fashion," including the luxury segment, is on the rise. Several stories in this issue reflect this new trend.

    We looked at four ITC projects, included in this issue as part of our "Portraits of Trade Development" series. We then stepped back to see what they had in common. All four stories reminded us of trends related to fair trade or non-governmental organizations reported in our previous issue. Three of the stories are from least developed countries. Three are linked to fashion.

    Why is the United Nations working in fashion? Indeed, the general public is aware of the UN for its role in diplomacy, and for humanitarian assistance. Its work in development, an ongoing, step-by-step process, makes headlines less frequently. We therefore found the question, posed to ITC by a journalist of The Times of London, very relevant.

    In short, supplying ethical fashion markets is an innovative way to reduce poverty. A growing body of consumers wants to invest in high-quality, well-designed products that are environmentally sustainable, help disadvantaged groups and reflect good working conditions. Ethical fashion allows developing countries to tap into their traditions and culture, deliver finished products, and harness the power of national branding, rather than supply raw materials. The market is one with real development potential to build sustainable new jobs and industries among poor communities.

    Readers will also find opinions about the suspension of global trade talks. Most find it a tremendous setback, but not all. ITC's Executive Director, Patricia Francis, weighs in on the need for business to make its voice heard. We include a sample of opinions after reviewing 50 media sources, as well as the views of Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

    In this context, Aid for Trade, which can help countries build capacities and skills to trade in new markets, is of renewed importance. ITC outlines its views on this topic, and takes a look at the "Enhanced Integrated Framework" as a model in designing new Aid for Trade initiatives.


    Natalie Domeisendomeisen@intracen.org