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Can fashion be redesigned to ensure fairness for all?

  • Date: Thu, Oct 15, 2020

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Each year Rio Ethical Fashion brings together over 600 stakeholders including academia, industry, NGOs, brands and producers from different sectors of the fashion industry to discuss the boundaries of the fashion market on one key theme - how to make fashion more ethical and sustainable.

It is a global multi-stakeholder platform and this year’s forum will be running from 30 October through 30 November in a fully digital format. Various events including panel discussions, film screenings and webinars which will be orchestrated to critically address one central question: how can we redesign the fashion system?

This year Dr. Hakan Karaosman, Researcher for UCD College of Business, joins the distinguished speaker line-up as an advocate for social and environmental justice in and across fashion supply chains, and will bring UCD to a global platform to showcase how our leading-edge research is calling for radical systemic change.

The 1.3 trillion-euro fashion industry employs more than 300 million people with a strong gender focus, as 75% of all garment workers are women. Fashion is indeed one of the few industries that benefits from long, dispersed and fragmented supply chains which are notoriously secretive. Geographical as well as social distance between buyers and suppliers and imbalanced power relations prevent the transition to environmentally and socially sustainable supply chains.

As part of the event Dr. Hakan Karaosman will host Livia Firth in a key-note interview.

“I will be uncovering some social constructs and will be talking social justice, inclusion and representation in a frank conversation with Livia Firth,” said Dr. Karaosman. “Livia and I would like to highlight the fact that the actual business model is broken and absolutely unsustainable. That being said, I will explore how we must restructure the fashion system through worker representation and inclusion. And this conversation with her will be a monumental manifestation of what our research advocates for.”

Working with Professor Donna Marshall, Vice-Principal For Research & Innovation at UCD College of Business, the Fashion’s Responsible Supply Chain Hub (FReSCH) project was awarded by the European Commission Research Executive Agency. It is one of the first research projects to investigate the trade-offs, tensions and outcomes between economic, social and environmental sustainability in the transition to a low-carbon circular fashion industry.

“We need a supply chain culture to make the fashion system resilient, responsible and effective,” said Dr. Karaosman. “Professor Marshall and I are determined to advocate for worker representation, inclusivity and fairness for all. We are and will be creating theoretical frameworks and conceptual models to demonstrate how purchasing and supply practices can support the development of responsible and effective partnerships. We are not interested in incremental messages, we are interested in robust, scientific and transformative research to help overcome the tensions between economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainability.”

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