Etiko is a Fairtrade fashion company intent on creating social change for the people who make their clothing, while also demonstrating the possibilities of ethical fashion. The brand ensures their products are ethically produced, from the way the cotton is grown to the final product you see in-store. The cotton used for their products is organic and Fairtrade certified, their fabric scraps are recycled to produce paper, and all their workers are paid a living wage instead of a government-sanctioned minimum wage. It is fair to say that Etiko is an industry leader when it comes to ethical fashion.
On Monday the 14th of June, we had the pleasure of interviewing the founder of Etiko, Nick Savaidis. He told us that when he was young, ethical fashion was virtually non-existent. He talked about how his mum used to work very hard, for a very small amount of money, and the company she worked for would make a large profit from paying their workers so little. This drove him to learn more about fast-fashion, and from that eagerness, Etiko was born.
When asked about the next steps fashion brands need to take to create a more sustainable future, Mr Savaidis said clothing brands need to start taking responsibility for their products at the end of its lifecycle. “I think any manufacturer should consider what happens to their product when it is no longer needed,” Mr Savaidis explained. “At Etiko, we have implemented a take-back program for our rubber thongs and sneakers where we reward customers for returning their old shoes and we then send those shoes to a local company that recycles the rubber.” Etiko will soon implement a similar recycling program for their clothing range, with the exception of underwear.
We then asked Mr. Savaidis how his company offsets their carbon emissions. He said that brands should be minimising their co2 emissions firstly, then offsetting the emissions which can’t be avoided. To minimise emissions he said clothing brands should avoid using plastic packaging and prioritise the use of natural textiles like cotton and hemp over polyester and other synthetics. To offset their emissions, Etiko partners with a Timor Leste social enterprise called Carbon Social.
We talked about why school uniforms should be made from natural textiles instead of polyester.
“In recent years, many schools have transitioned to polyester school shirts. But when polyester is washed, it sheds microfibres which are tiny pieces of plastic that enter our waterways,” explained Mr Savaidis. “Microfibres are the largest source of human-made debris found on our shorelines, and it’s a form of pollution that easily enters our food chain via fish and drinking water. Considering about 3.65 million Australian children wear and wash multiple synthetic uniforms every week, this is an area with substantial environmental impact.”
Talking to Nick was very interesting and the whole team who was there for the interview found it very rewarding and learnt a lot about the ethical fashion industry. Etiko is a truly incredible fashion brand, and is very serious about its intentions in being ethical and sustainable. If you want to learn more, or are interested in buying from them you can check their website out here.
Article and Interview by Bronte Wolfe