Improve Ethical Fashion Design: 8 Practical Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Embrace sustainable materials
  2. Improve supply chain transparency
  3. Promote fair trade practices
  4. Implement efficient production processes
  5. Encourage clothing longevity
  6. Design for recycling or upcycling
  7. Educate consumers about ethical fashion
  8. Advocate for industry change

So, you're on a mission to get better at ethical fashion design? That's fantastic! This exciting journey is not just about making eye-catching designs—it's about making a real difference in the world. Fashion is not just about looking good; it's also about doing good, right? In today's world, ethical fashion design is becoming more important than ever. Here, we'll share eight practical tips to help you step up your game in ethical fashion design.

Embrace sustainable materials

The first step in getting better at ethical fashion design is embracing sustainable materials. But what does it mean exactly? It's all about choosing materials that are kind to our planet—like organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, or recycled polyester. You might be surprised at how many brands are now offering these options!

  • Organic Cotton: Unlike regular cotton, organic cotton is grown without harmful pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. It's a healthier choice, not just for our planet, but also for the people growing it.
  • Hemp: This is a real superhero among sustainable materials. It grows super-fast, needs little water, and improves the soil it's grown in. Plus, it makes incredibly durable, breathable, and comfortable clothing.
  • Bamboo: Bamboo is another sustainable superstar. It grows incredibly fast, needs little water, and absorbs more carbon dioxide than most trees. It can be transformed into a soft, silky fabric that's perfect for clothing.
  • Recycled polyester: This material is made from recycled plastic bottles. Yep, you read that right—those pesky plastic bottles can be turned into fabulous fashion! It's a great way to reduce waste and make your designs more eco-friendly.

So, next time you're picking materials for your new designs, why not give these sustainable options a go? They're not just good for the planet—they can also add a unique touch to your designs and make you stand out in the ethical fashion scene. Remember, getting better at ethical fashion design is all about making choices that are good for both style and sustainability.

Improve supply chain transparency

When it comes to getting better at ethical fashion design, improving supply chain transparency is a must. But what does supply chain transparency mean? It's about knowing where your materials come from, who makes your clothes, and under what conditions. It's about being open and honest about how your fashion pieces are made.

  1. Know your suppliers: You can't be transparent if you don't know who your suppliers are. Make sure you know exactly where your materials come from. Are they environmentally friendly? Are they socially responsible? Do they treat their workers fairly? These are important questions to ask.
  2. Understand your manufacturing process: How are your clothes made? Are they made in safe and fair working conditions? Are workers paid a living wage? Understanding your manufacturing process is key to improving transparency.
  3. Share your practices: Transparency is not just about knowing—it's also about sharing. Be open with your customers about your practices. Let them know you care about ethical fashion design. This will not only build trust with your customers but also set you apart in the fashion world.

Remember, transparency is not a one-time thing—it's an ongoing commitment. It might take time and effort, but it's worth it. By improving supply chain transparency, you're taking a big step towards getting better at ethical fashion design.

Promote fair trade practices

Fair trade practices are at the core of ethical fashion design. But what does it mean to promote fair trade? Well, it means you ensure that everyone involved in making your fashion pieces—from the cotton farmers to the seamstresses—gets a fair deal.

  1. Support fair wages: It's not enough to just pay the legal minimum wage. Fair trade means paying a wage that allows workers to live a decent life. This is a significant part of getting better at ethical fashion design.
  2. Ensure safe working conditions: Fair trade also means providing safe and healthy working conditions. This includes everything from ensuring the workplace is clean and safe, to providing necessary safety equipment, to respecting workers' rights to rest and leisure.
  3. Reject child and forced labor: Fair trade is firmly against child labor and forced labor. By promoting fair trade practices, you commit to reject these unethical practices in your supply chain.

Promoting fair trade practices might mean making tough choices. You might need to change suppliers or alter your designs. But remember, every step you take towards fair trade is a step towards getting better at ethical fashion design. And that's something to be proud of.

Implement efficient production processes

Efficiency and ethical fashion design might seem like two concepts that don't exactly go hand in hand. But hold on a minute—let's look at this from a different perspective. Increasing efficiency in your production processes can actually reduce waste, save resources, and improve working conditions, all of which are key areas of focus when you're aiming at getting better at ethical fashion design.

  1. Minimize waste: By refining your production processes, you can reduce the amount of material waste. This not only saves resources but also decreases the environmental footprint of your fashion line.
  2. Optimize energy use: Energy efficiency is another important aspect. By using energy-efficient machinery and optimizing energy use in your production facilities, you can significantly reduce your carbon emissions.
  3. Improve working conditions: Efficient processes can also lead to improved working conditions. For example, automation can reduce the need for manual labor and help prevent work-related injuries.

Becoming more efficient doesn't mean compromising on ethics. On the contrary, it's a win-win situation. You save money and resources while also making your business more sustainable and ethical. Now, isn't that a step towards getting better at ethical fashion design?

Encourage Clothing Longevity

Fast fashion is like that double cheeseburger you know you shouldn't have but still crave — it feels good momentarily but leaves a lasting impact, and not the good kind. So, how does one combat the allure of fast fashion and encourage clothing longevity? The answer lies within the core of getting better at ethical fashion design.

  1. Quality over quantity: By using high-quality, durable materials, you can create pieces that stand the test of time. This not only reduces the need for frequent replacements but also adds a sense of value and attachment to each piece.
  2. Timeless design: Trends come and go, but classics always stay. Designing clothing with timeless appeal helps ensure that they remain relevant and wearable for years, not just seasons.
  3. Repair, not replace: Make your clothes repair-friendly. This can be as simple as including extra buttons or offering repair services. This encourages customers to fix minor damages instead of discarding the item.

Remember, the longer a piece of clothing lasts, the less impact it has on our environment. So, promoting clothing longevity is not just good for your customers and business, but also for our planet. Now, isn't that a stylish way of getting better at ethical fashion design?

Design for Recycling or Upcycling

Imagine if the shirt you're wearing could have a second life as a tote bag or a scarf. Sounds cool, right? This is the essence of designing for recycling or upcycling — it's like giving your clothes a superhero alter-ego in the world of ethical fashion design.

  1. Choose recyclable materials: Not all materials can be recycled. When getting better at ethical fashion design, opt for fabrics like cotton, wool, or linen that can be recycled into new textile fibers.
  2. Design with upcycling in mind: This means creating clothes that can be easily transformed into something else. For example, a dress that can be shortened into a top or a pair of pants that can become shorts.
  3. Modular design: This involves designing clothes in separate parts that can be replaced or updated. Think of a jacket with detachable sleeves or a dress with a removable skirt. This allows for customization and increases the garment's lifespan.

By designing for recycling or upcycling, you're not just making clothes — you're creating a cycle of continuous use and reducing waste. It's like giving clothes nine lives, but without the fur and whiskers. Now, isn't that a clever approach to getting better at ethical fashion design?

Educate Consumers About Ethical Fashion

It's great to make clothes that are good for the planet and the people who make them, but it's equally important to help others understand why ethical fashion matters. So, how can we do this?

  1. Clear labeling: Ever tried to decipher the symbols on a clothing tag? It's like trying to crack a secret code. Make it easy for your customers to understand what they're buying by using clear labels that show your clothes are ethically made.
  2. Tell the story: People love a good story, especially when it's about making the world a better place. Share the journey of your clothes, from the cotton fields to the sewing machines. This will help your customers connect with your brand and the values it stands for.
  3. Use social media: Social media isn't just for cute cat videos or drool-worthy food pictures. It's a powerful tool for educating people about ethical fashion. Share posts about your design process, the impact of fast fashion, and why ethical fashion is the better option.

Remember, education isn't about pointing fingers or making people feel guilty. It's about opening eyes, inspiring change, and showing that ethical fashion isn't just a trend—it's a movement. And you have a key role in this movement. So, are you ready to take your ethical fashion design to the next level?

Advocate for Industry Change

You may be wondering, "How can I make a difference in an industry as large as fashion?" Well, every big change starts small. Advocating for an industry shift towards ethical fashion design is a step in the right direction. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Network with other ethical designers: You're not alone in this journey. There are many designers out there who share your passion for ethical fashion. Connect with them, share your experiences, and learn from each other. Together, you can create a louder voice for change.
  2. Engage with policymakers: Changes in regulations can have a big impact on the fashion industry. Reach out to your local lawmakers and discuss how they can support ethical fashion. Perhaps it's through stricter labor laws or incentives for using sustainable materials.
  3. Participate in fashion events: Fashion weeks, trade shows, and expos are great platforms for getting the word out about ethical fashion. Show your designs, speak about your ethical practices, and inspire others to follow suit.

Getting better at ethical fashion design isn't just about enhancing your personal skills and practices. It's about fostering industry-wide change that promotes fairness, sustainability, and transparency. You have the power to influence this change. Ready to step up and make a difference?

If you're passionate about improving ethical fashion design and want to explore innovative ways to make a difference in the industry, check out the workshop 'What is Digital Fashion?' by Beata Wilczek. This workshop will introduce you to the exciting world of digital fashion and its potential to revolutionize the fashion industry while promoting sustainability and ethical practices.