Jasmin Schister has been vegan for almost ten years. The muso-koroni shop owner decorates her body with clothes made of pure vegetable materials. Vegan is not automatically called biological. Biologically does not mean automatically produced under fair, environment-friendly working conditions. Fair, organic and vegan does not mean automatically from the region. Yes, fair fashion is hard to make out.
To get vegan, fair, plant-dyed, organic clothing with short transport routes for herself and her shop in Vienna, Jasmin Schister had to ask many questions. She found that the majority of sellers of large and small fashion chains are not informed about the origin and production of the offered clothing. "You're the first to ask such questions," she heard. Especially the word "bio" is a popular, but not a protected term to go to customer catching. Schister saw in a yoga shop that the saleswoman wanted to offer her a biological garment that was not one. Only after three inquiries and a look at the inside label, on which neither an independent seal of quality nor organic cotton was to be read, she could convince herself of the error of the saleswoman.
A snapshot on Vienna's Mariahilfer Straße confirms Jasmin Schister's experience. "Customers do not ask for organic products," says a Palmers saleswoman. She rummages a white abdomen made of organic cotton from a drawer: "That's the only thing we have here on organic cotton." A seal of approval is not found on the abdomen. So that's nothing to do with fair fashion.
Quality labels and formulations
“Isn't that the organic label?” Asks an H&M saleswoman, pointing to the green label attached to a “Made in Bangladesh” shirt from the Conscious collection. She's getting reinforcements. Three saleswomen examine the T-shirt. They point to the paper certification on the label and the phrase "Organic Cotton" circled in white, which is printed on the inside of the camisole. "There it is! Organic cotton! Is that it? ”Asks the second saleswoman. The third admits: "We weren't trained on that."
The three most important, independent seals of approval in fair fashion are for Jasmin Schister Fairtrade, GOTS and Fair wear, Each seal accompanies another area in the production chain. The three charitable organizations that award the seals are considered engaged in the fair fashion scene. But here, too, the consumer should look behind the clever formulations of the marketing departments.
Fair Fashion: "100 percent fair is unrealistic"
“It is unrealistic to describe a piece of clothing as 100 percent fair fashion. International supply chains are complex and long. To ensure that everyone in the supply chain is treated well is unrealistic, ”wrote Lotte Schuurman, press spokeswoman for the Fair Wear Foundation, which advocates fair working conditions for seamstresses, in a statement to Option. Even at Fairtrade, which campaigns for the rights of plantation workers and farmers, child labor under the age of 15 is allowed on their parents' farms “if it does not affect the lessons, they are not exploited or overworked, and they do not have to take on any dangerous activities and that only under the supervision of the parents ”, explains the press spokesman for Fairtrade Austria, Bernhard Moser, about fair fashion. "Details on the distance from school and residence, time required for homework, playing and sleeping as well as the specific timetable naturally vary depending on the country, region and village community", adds Moser.
The NGOs see their task as supporting the worldwide members and running awareness-raising work and training. “Members are given the opportunity to make improvements. Sustainable changes don't happen overnight, ”explains Lotte Schuurman. Fair fashion is therefore said faster than implemented.
Many countries - a garment
The C&A customer has no transparency as to where the “We love organic cotton” T-shirt comes from. The well-known "Made in ..." label is missing. "It is produced all over the world," says the C&A saleswoman, "everyone does it that way."
The press department of C&A justifies the lack of identification of the country of manufacture as follows: On the one hand, there are no production facilities of its own, but 800 suppliers and 3.500 sub-suppliers worldwide. Different countries are often involved in an item of clothing, which makes labeling "naturally difficult". Second, labels could lead to the sale of corresponding products being discriminated against for a variety of reasons.
The aim is to provide developing countries with access to Western markets through their products. There is no obligation to label the countries of manufacture in the EU.
Fair Fashion: The reality of this world
The textile industry relies on chemistry. Pesticides, bleaches, dyes, heavy metals, plasticizers, soaps, oils and alkalis are used on fields and in factories. Pollutants on the textiles and environmental pollution such as the contamination of the soil and the groundwater and the high water consumption does not see the consumer. He does not see the people who produce his garment while endangering their health and unfairly rewarded. He does not see the discarded fabric remnants of the manufacturing plants and the waste of resources.
“As part of its global textile purchases, C&A is also repeatedly confronted with conditions that cannot be accepted. Unfortunately, that is the reality of this world (…) ”, writes Lars Boelke, press spokesman at C&A.
Sports fashion as fair fashion: hemp, bamboo & Co
"The most effective argument is chemistry," says Kerstin Tuder, owner of Ecolodge, the first Austrian online shop for fair and organically produced sports fashion, including fair fashion. “Our skin is our largest organ. When we sweat, we absorb all the harmful substances. ”Fair fashion made from bamboo fiber, hemp or Tencel is more suitable than cotton in terms of wearing comfort during sport. Tencel is produced by the Austrian company Lenzing from pulp purchased in Austria. The pulp is produced and sold by pulp mills in South Africa, which in turn produce it from eucalyptus wood from eucalyptus farms. In addition to sportswear, the Ecolodge, which opened its showroom in Kilb (Lower Austria) on Friday, also sells jewelery by Austrian designers and sporting goods such as snowboards made from recycled material. Sports shoes, bikinis and bathing suits are not available in sustainable form. “There is no shoe that is 100 percent sustainable. We have been looking for a long time, ”says Kerstin Tuder.
Carrying on resources saves resources
According to a publication by the environmental organization Global 2000 on the www.reduse.org platform, one Austrian buys some 19 garments a year. "Our clothes are worn twice as long as we wear them," says Henning Mörch, treasurer at Humana, the club for development cooperation. He estimates that 25.000 to 40.000 tons of clothing are collected annually by Humana throughout Austria. The clothes are transported to the collection for cost reasons to Eastern Europe and sorted in local sorting plants. Up to 70 percent will be brought back to Austria or Africa as "wearable clothing" and sold there at market prices. "We only conserve resources when carrying them out," says Mörch. Five billion out of seven billion people are dependent on second-hand.
Socks are usually not available in thrift stores. The designer Anita Steinwidder takes out sorted socks from companies such as Volkshilfe and creates skirts and trousers for her collection. Sewn with two seamstresses in a workshop in Vienna. Old textiles are often washed and therefore much healthier than new clothes, "says Steinwidder. An ecolabel did not want to found her. The designer finds especially the social aspects of clothing exciting. Because in principle it is only "shreds."
Through upcycling to fair fashion
How versatile and creative recycling can be is shown in the all-upcycled business of Rita Jelinek. Here you will find bags from old juice packs, bracelets from can closures or chains of Turkish driftwood. "It's probably the most environmentally friendly way to dress," says Jelinek. It upgrades materials that would otherwise have landed in the garbage. Amongst the international designers from Cambodia, Finland and Poland, who work with fabric scraps from the textile industry, there are also Austrian labels in the shop, such as Milch, which purchases old men's suits from Volkshilfe and uses them to create blouses and dresses. "God knows what it was before," jokes Rita Jelinek, looking at her assortment.
Fair fashion means mindful consumption
In the German-speaking world, the network Mindful Economy was created by students of Buddhist Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. The basic idea is that all people are part of the economy and therefore they can change the everyday life positively through awareness.
Our consumption is often very superficial. We buy things that soon become lifeless in closets or dust on shelves without us benefiting. To conscientiously consume means to build a meaningful and lasting relationship with the things that we leave in our lives.
What, how, why and how much?
The initiator of the network Mindful Economy, Kai Romhardt, advises against pausing to buy and asking four questions. "The first question is about the object. What do I want to buy? What is this product? Is it healthy for me and the environment? "Says the Buddhist. The second question is according to one's own state of mind. It is important to pay attention to what you are buying at the moment. Stop pausing to recognize patterns of behavior.
"The third question is why?" Explains Romhardt. "What drives me? Do I feel more attractive when I buy this garment? Am I afraid of not belonging? "The last question is the measure. Once we have decided on a purchase, Kai Romhardt advises to wear the garment carefully. If we separate ourselves from a piece of clothing, we should do so consciously and carefully. So off to the clothes collection. That too is part of the idea of fair fashion.