Not every name on the High Street scores high marks when it comes to ethics, but you might be surprised to learn that many are taking steps in the right direction in terms of
sustainability, social responsibility and fair trading. New Look
in particular is championing the way for the High Street to get serious about ethical fashion. From New Look’s signature shoes
right down to their jewelry and hair accessories, New Look is absolutely committed to the cause of ethical trading. Additionally, the
brand is dedicated to animal welfare, meaning all clothing, jewelry and hair accessories are not only on trend but also guilt free. That’s right, those fashionable feather earrings, snakeskin heels and pearl hair accessories are man made—no birds, snakes or mollusks were harmed in the process.
How else are New Look pioneering ethical fashion? The brand has set out a rigorous code of conduct which all of their suppliers must sign and abide by. According to their
website, New Look has 4 principal aims for their brand:
· Be a good neighbour to the world.
· Deliver value and ethical values to our customers.
· Continuously improve.
· Ensure that ethical trading is central to how we operate.
Above all, New Look is clearly concerned with welfare of the workers and craftspeople who make their products. The brand is constantly revising their policies to ensure health
and safety needs are consistently being met. For instance, New Look has put a
ban on the practice of sandblasting their denim and other products. Sure, that
pre-worn in look is chic, but to achieve it via sandblasting the fabric is
blasted with crystalline silica via air compressors. This practice poses great
health risks to the sandblasting operators who often inhale dangerous dust from
the machines which can cause silicosis, lung cancer and autoimmune diseases.
If you’re going for a faded denim look but don’t want to shop second hand, you
can be assured that all of New Look’s distressed fabrics have achieved their
faux-vintage patina through alternative techniques that didn’t put anyone’s lung
health at risk. Beyond all this, New Look has set up it’s own namesake charity which has raised over £750K for charitable causes through donations, fundraising and dedicated sales.
Additionally, the brand works with MacMillan Cancer Support
, donating generously to the worthy cause of cancer support. Who says fashion has to be a superficial pursuit? New Look for one is working in the right direction.
Nobody wants to buy clothes from an unethical source, no matter how cheap they are. Furthermore, we don’t want to purchase clothing from companies that aren’t doing their bit to help out local communities both at home and in the myriad places they source and produce their clothing. Although corporate social responsibility is improving, it is by no means applied equally across the board. Some companies are better than others and it is important we highlight and hold up the companies that are working to create a better, more ethical fashion industry as examples to those that can do better.
New Look has been helping local, domestic charities for decades, but in 2009 it set up its own charitable foundation The New Look Foundation, tasked with ‘educating, inspiring and empowering people to feel good about themselves’. The foundation, made up from a small group of partnered charities, such as Macmillan and Whizz-Kids, is funded through proceeds from in-store and online products as well as fundraising activities and payroll giving. This means you can help out and do your bit for global society whenever you purchase dresses, jeans, shoes, t-shirts and so on from New Look.
The money that is accumulated from the sale of dresses and the like is split between different causes. 40% of the funds are divided among New Look’s charity partners; 40% is donated to local causes near to New Look’s shops and offices; 10% is reserved for disaster relief appeals, such as the DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal and the final 10% is held in reserve to go into a big pot of funds to help larger projects in the future.
The New Look Foundation makes it easy for you to help out; in fact you can help without really thinking about it. Any time you purchase one of its limited edition Foundation dresses you will be helping people all around the world have better access to education, health care and support. However, you need to look out for the selected foundation products if you want to make a real difference.
In the long run it is important to choose shops like New Look over those that don’t place such high value on social responsibility and charity. By picking retail brands that help and support the global community and work sustainably all around the world we can help create a fairer society not just at home, but on the other side of the planet too.