Ethical Fashion aims to promote the development of the ethical fashion industry. The project supports the development of marginalized communities and mainly works with micro-producers operating in poor rural or urban areas. The project allows these disadvantaged African communities and informal producers to be integrated into the production line, to develop their export capacity and strengthen their position in the domestic and regional production lines to ensure they also can benefit from the potential of commerce with the perspective poverty reduction.
The Ethical Fashion Ghana project is implemented by the International Trade Center, in collaboration with various partners, including SECO, ICV, ECOS, the University of Geneva and Helvetas.
Ghana's textile industry is experiencing hard times. Since the country's independence in 1957, exports have been declining in favor of imports, especially of Chinese textile products. These compete with the Ghanaian production because they are sold at lower prices than local products in the local market. This has resulted in the closure of many textile factories and caused widespread unemployment.
The Ghanaian government, which has recently become aware of the importance of the textile industry and its growth potential, has taken various measures - import taxes, credits for plant modernization, strengthening of customs controls, etc. to revitalize the sector. With these new measures and the long tradition of Ghana's textile and accessories, the country has the potential to become a hub for transforming inputs (traditional fabrics from organic and fair cotton) provided by local suppliers from Burkina Faso and Mali.
The Ethical Fashion project is therefore in a favorable local context. However, this project also aims to integrate the international fashion industry which is still far from being favorable to small producers in developing countries. Even if the ethical fashion is experiencing a significant development in recent years - for example it is the sector that has experienced the highest growth in terms of trade fair in France in 2009 - the market for fashion remains extremely competitive.
For thirty years, the democratization of fashion has created new constraints for producers. To survive in this competitive market, it is continually necessary to develop the culte of novelty, demonstrating great flexibility, and instaure a new relationship between creation, production and distribution.
In seeking to integrate the international fashion and retail market, these are the constraints to which the Ethical Fashion project needs to respond to. The project's objective is not to stimulate the market in conjunction with ethical fashion but rather to help the conversion of the mainstream fashion industry into an ethical market, it is essential to consider the strategies to adopt in order to bring together mainstream distribution and fair trade without removing any meaning out of this term to mislead the consumer.