Session 4(a): Fashion Ethics

3rd Global Conference


Thursday 22nd September – Sunday 25th September 2011
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

À la mode? Fashion Design Protection in Canada
B. Courtney Doagoo
Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, Canada

This paper is designed to illustrate a brief overview of the legal framework for fashion design protection in Canada. Articles of fashion design are classified as ‘useful articles’ and are therefore subject to specific provisions which limit their protection under Canada’s Copyright Act. It is not entirely clear that fashion design could in fact qualify for copyright protection in the first place due to the fact that it unclear as to whether or not it would meet the mandatory eligibility requirements. This uncertainty would subject fashion designers to seek protection under the Industrial Design Act, which may prove to be a prohibitive option for many firms.

In the United States, there is currently a Bill specifically createdfor fashion design protection called the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act (IDPPPA), causing a spillover of interest in Canada. Certain elements of the IDPPPA model may prove to be a workable solution and address some of the concerns with the current framework for fashion design protection if implemented in Canada.

The Fashion Paradox: Can Green Ever be the New Black?
Elinor Franklin
Bath Spa University, UK

Garments with ethical credentials are often expensive, elitist and sparse on ‘fashion’ employing whimsical materials and superfluous design that belie the notion of fashion per se. Supermarkets dip their toe into this market with faded cotton t shirts cashing in on yet another trend with eco friendly emblazoned labelling. Such ‘green-washing’ begs the question; can fashion ever be truly sustainable?

This paper is concerned with the development of what appears to be paradoxical; garments which are both fashion and sustainable. How can one be both at the same time?

Japanese designers like Issey Miyake employ innovative production techniques and fabrics that exemplify environmentally sound practices, such as zero waste, fabrics that are made from recycled waste and perhaps even more significant garments that have a timeless quality and that the consumer can wear throughout a lifetime. This certainly seems the most sustainable way to produce and consume fashion, and forms a case study within this investigation. Indeed, no-one questions the ‘fashionability’ of Miyake’s collections.

This paper focuses on the ways in which eco concerns such as waste can be incorporated into high fashion collections, offering beauty without novelty, and consequently offering sustainable garments that offer wardrobe longevity. There are indeed, many approaches to eco and sustainable fashion that focuses on the re-education of the consumer; this has not worked and therefore needs to be redressed. I propose that the term ‘fashion’ needs re-definition, whilst consumers need to feel good enough about themselves to distance themselves from self-medication via fast fashion.

Would clothing that offered longevity satisfy an ever hungry consumers’ desire for newness? Can eco – fashion exist or indeed evolve and flourish at a time where the general populous is tightening their belts and cutting back on spending where cheap, disposable fashion seems the only option for a large percentage of the population?

New Economies, Research Ethics, Academic Selves
Maureen Molloy
University of Auckland, New Zealand

Despite the large literature which now address issues of audit culture, creative industries and work precarity, there has been little written on how new formations of work and enterprise may necessitate a re-thinking of the relationship between academic practices of knowledge-making, and understandings of the ethical relations with and between ourselves, and with and between the people and organisational forms we research. Yet we live in a world in which new patterns of work, employment and entrepreneurship in the private sector, and the blurrings between private and public sectors, necessitate a rethinking of the ethics of research. In this paper, therefore, I explore the ways in which the distinctive patterns of work, employment and self-making which characterise the ‘cultural economy’ or ‘creative industries’ impact on how we must think about the ethics of our research. This paper draws on six years of working on a large multi-disciplinary, multi-national study of the New Zealand designer fashion industry, which has involved interviews with designers, agents, etailers, buyers, workshop assistants, garment makers, photographers, stylists and a range of other occupations which comprise ‘the industry’. It argues that the old model of employment research based on large manufacturing and clear lines between employers and employees, does not work in a sectors made up of very small entrepreneurial firms. The centrality of of ‘image management’ and the interdependent and fragile nature of many of these small businesses means that the researcher must negotiate new challenges in the balance between obligation to treat the subjects of the research ethically and commitment to academic rigor.

Download Draft Conference Paper (pdf)