Ethical fashion is a way of running a fashion business and producing and purchasing clothes that is concerned about the well-being of the people involved in the start-to-finish process. There are many aspects of ethical fashion – paying living wages, safe labor laws, fair trade, dismantling injustices and racism within fashion, the treatment of animals or vegan fashion, and more – and they are all important issues in this industry that go back to our values and business ethics. But I think there is another important aspect that gets left out of the ethical fashion conversation – good fit.
When you are out shopping, how do you feel when you try on something that fits you well and seems like it was made for your curves? It feels great, right? It is affirming. It makes you feel confident in who you are and the body you have. On the other hand, what does it feel like when you try on style after style and return home empty handed? Each ill-fitting garment that you hang back up in the reject stack leaves you questioning more and more if it’s the clothes that are messed up or if it’s you. We’ve all been there, and it is not fun.
As a brand, it is your job to make clothes that sell and as an ethical brand, it is your job to make sure that the people who cross paths with your brand are treated well. With poorly-fitting clothing, you can’t do either. Good fit shows that you care about the people who will be wearing your clothes and you care how your clothes make them feel.
Yes, good fit takes time and effort to get right for your target customer. It requires that you understand who they are and know what they care about. It requires empathy and knowledge of the fit issues your customer typically encounters and what makes them feel confident (or not). If you’ve been around here a while, you know I talk about knowing your customer all the time because it is so important in so many ways, but especially fit.
Good fit needs to be good fit across all sizes that you offer, too. We’ve all witnessed a few big brands who have dipped their toe into plus sizes, but have done so so half-heartedly that the resulting collections are almost insulting. The fit seemed like an after-thought and the narrow breadth of the collections looked like they got the leftover budget and resources. Even the styles themselves showed a lack of understanding of the customer and her lifestyle. They left people feeling left-out and discouraged. Poor fit doesn’t put the wearer’s best interests at heart.
Good fit, though, honors the body of the wearer and says “you are worth the time and effort to get this right and you are worthy of wearing something beautiful and feeling beautiful without needing to change a thing. This garment is made to fit you just as you are.” Good fit in all sizes puts bodies of all shapes and sizes on equal standing and shows that you have taken the time to understand them and respect them enough to make your designs fit their needs and desires.
Fashion has the power to create either a positive or negative impact on people at all levels of the industry. There are so many aspects in which ethical fashion aims to do better for people – and I think good fit can be a part of that. Well-fitting clothing is clothing that demonstrates equity, understanding, and respect. That sounds like ethical fashion to me.