Feel-good fashion

It's been an uphill climb for high fashion, but luxury brands are slowly brandishing their ethical cred to court a crowd of conscionable consumers. By May Yip

Published Fri, Nov 29, 2013 · 10:00 PM
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WITH a booth promoting plush furs in the foyer, and interviews with upscale designers on their exotic-skin accessories and jewel-encrusted trinkets, the idea of fashion with a conscience seemed to be the last thing on the minds of participants at the recent SEA Of Luxury Conference. But closing the three-day International New York Times conference, an annual event with its latest instalment held here, was a session on socially-responsible luxury. And Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, president, international, The New York Times Company, said: "My pledge is to continue to make sustainability one of the core aspects of the conference."

The luxury industry has been gradually waking up to ethical and environmental responsibilities, even as reputation-tainting scandals of sweatshop facilities continue to make headlines and major brands are put under the spotlight for their non-existent environmental policies.

Indeed, when Livia Firth, creative director of sustainability consultancy Eco Age and founder of the Green Carpet Challenge, which pairs celebs with ethical designer ensembles for the red carpet, was asked if luxury would ever be conscionable, she said: "I truly believe so! A lesson that many fashion pioneers have taught me is that sometimes fashion industry orthodoxy should and can be turned on its head."

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