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Saturday, 06 March 2010

‘There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness’ (Mahatma Gandhi)

The great thing about working with students around the world who do research on ethical fashion, is the free flowing inspiration. The other day, Ishwari called me from London where she is writing her master thesis. She approached me last year after finishing her BA in fashion design at an Indian institute about which school she should choose to continue her studies. We have been working together since and often exchange ideas on our favourite topic.

Ishwari’s question was what I thought about Gandhian ethics versus western technology as a solution to questions of climate change and economic disorder. Gandhi believed that rapid industrialization and craze for mass production causes unemployment and imbalance in the eco-system. His economic school of thought is characterized by its affinity to the principles and objectives of socialism, but with a rejection of class war and promotion of socio-economic harmony. Gandhi's economic ideas also aim to promote spiritual development and harmony with a rejection of materialism.

My perspective on Gandhian ethics and technology is that they need to go hand in hand. I believe in technology as a tool for transformation, not as a destination in itself. Technology without ethics will destroy the planet while ethics without technology might create dangerous situations such as ecomentalism. We need a much more holistic approach and people from multidisciplinary backgrounds working together in mixed teams to really create sustainable solutions.

When it comes to fashion, ethics are becoming increasingly important, but are often critiqued in today’s fashion industry. Leaning only on ethics, we won’t be able to make it as an ethical fashion movement, but we need a healthy mixture of good design, smart use of technology, a great story, a transparent value chain and inspiring new ways of marketing and selling, and all of this built on a strong ethical foundation.

Image: Samant Chauhan

Comments (4)Add Comment
written by Natalee, March 10, 2010
Beautiful quote and perspective. I take a very similar approach to design ethics. Lovely things should be made in a lovely way.
Ghandi philosphy
written by Victoria Meadows, March 11, 2010
I loved the connection to ghandi values.I make ethical fashion and feel strongly about it.
Look good. Do good.
written by THLM, April 29, 2010
What a great perspective on how technology and ethics should go hand in hand. Not a lot of us view it this way here in the West. Hopefully people and businesses will learn to adapt to this way of thinking. www.thehotlovemovement.com

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