Matrade urges local fashion industry to ‘go ethical’

Abu-Bakar-Yusof-matrradeKUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) has urged local designers and manufacturers to shift to ethical fashion to cater to growing global demand in the trillion-dollar industry.

Lifestyle director Abu Bakar Yusof said the global market for ethical fashion had quadrupled over the last four years.

“For example, the ethical fashion industry in the United Kingdom increased 29% to RM9.76 billion in 2016,” he told a media briefing on the ethical fashion industry here, today.

Ethical fashion encompasses an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing and accessories such as shoes, handbags and handicraft that maximises benefits to the community, while minimising impact on the environment.

Abu Bakar said currently, there was a shift to demand for ethical fashion in developed countries, especially in Europe, Australia, North America and Japan.

“In China, more brands are actively looking at production facilities that meet ethical standards of materials, labour practices and working environment,” he added.

He said consumer behaviour was leaning towards ethical fashion as it not only had a positive impact on local society, but also brought value to the international market.

“Consumers are willing to pay a higher price for such premium products,” he added.

Abu Bakar said fashion that is unable to comply with ethical fashion would no longer be able to compete.

Meanwhile, Earth Heir Partners managing partner Sasibai Kimis said ethical fashion had entered the mainstream industry internationally.

“Paris, London, Berlin and New York have introduced fashion shows dedicated solely to ethical and sustainable fashion,” she said.

However, she said as the industry was still in its infancy, especially among Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, awareness of it remained low.

Sasibai, who is also the country coordinator of Fashion Revolution Malaysia said under the global movement, less than 20 local fashion companies had adopted ethical standards, as of today.

“If about 10% of the local industry players shift towards ethical fashion, they could make a difference,” she added.