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From batik to store

Levi's, Nike and Bono make ethical items everyday. Pia Haraldsen also dresses ethically. Can the shoppers save the world?


[fashion] Nydalen metro station's rugged concrete floor becomes a catwalk and bright yellow Fairtrade football becomes an accessory when Ny Tid arranges fair fashion photography. Kult meets kindly in this autumn's collections, both at the designers and in fashion chains. Slave labor is only so last year, and gone are fluttering batik robes and striped dresses we traditionally associated with fair clothing. Bono does it, Sienna Miller does it, Morten Harket and Karita Bekkemellem do it, and now jaggu fashion expert Pia Haraldsen and social geographer Karl Fredrik Tangen do it too: Dress ethically.

Haraldsen points to Tangen's pants and says something only he can hear.

- Yeah right? They are also so soft, he answers, before he returns to the role of social punishment.

- Probably full of environmentally harmful softener. That was what killed Lake Mjøsa, he grins.

But Levi's has promised us that is not the case. The group's eco-jeans, Eco, are coming to Norway now before Christmas. This is the world's first 100 percent organic jeans, according to Morten Isaksen in Levi's Norway. The buttons are made of coconuts.

- If there had been respect for Levi's, they would have made the entire collection organic, says Tangen, who is an associate professor at Oslo Market College.


He believes that if an entire clothing chain became organic, eco-awareness could become a necessity for the entire industry.

- When eco-jeans are what you differentiate yourself with, it does not become an necessity to the same degree. Car safety equipment is not today something car manufacturers use to stand out, even if it once was. It is to this level that ethical production must be raised, he says.

So why does not Levi's make all their clothes ethical, once they throw themselves into the environment?

the wave? Isaksen in Levi's Norway explains that there is not enough organically produced cotton for a supplier as large as them.

- Less than one percent of cotton produced is organic, and I do not think that all our customers are willing to pay the small extra cost of producing cotton organically.

- Corporate shopping is fashion. Is this organic series Levi's' strategy for draining the organic segment?

"Every company must earn its money to look after jobs and the shareholder's interests, but if we had not cared about the environment or cared about the world, we would not have done this," says Isaksen.

Goodbye to the SV uniform

Pia Haraldsen believes Levi's eco-investment focuses on ethics and arouses interest among potential customers. She even traded Fairtrade when she lived in London.

- In the beginning it was mostly out of curiosity, but it is clear that it gives a little better conscience to have spent money when you have acted ethically.

- This black silk dress is just as beautiful as if it were not ethical. Ethical clothing is often associated with almost home-knitted, coarse garments, she says.

Editor-in-chief of the fashion magazine Elle, Signy Fardal, entrusts Ny Tid with similar prejudices.

- Ethical, ecological and socially responsible clothing was previously associated with felted wool and in no way compatible with fashion. Now it has become hip and cool to care. We have received super hot products, both in clothing and cosmetics, which are also ethical, says editor-in-chief Signy Fardal.

The SV uniform, Tangen calls the so-called old-ethical fashion.

- It is clear that these new clothes can speak to a larger audience, but I think they should be more visibly ethical. The price difference makes it a little less attractive if consumers do not get proper social benefits for wearing them.

7 out of 10 Norwegians want to act ethically, according to new figures from Opinion. However, one must not only be conscious. One must also be a patient consumer in order to distinguish the ethical from the unethical. On November 7, the web portal opened. It summarizes useful information about goods and manufacturers.

Increases availability

- When I now have an overview of what is okay to buy, and what to avoid, it is because I have been able to spend several man-days looking for the right information, said editor Eidi Ann Hansen when was launched.

She believes consumers have all the power they want to take.

- What we want, the business community offers us.

Just a bark?

But trends are coming and going. If ethical fashion is trendy, will we eventually stop caring?

Signy Fardal in Elle thinks that's a good question. However, she points out that this is not a trend in line with thigh cards versus knee cards skirts.

- I am still waiting to see if ethics is something that forces itself forward, Tangen says.

And go home without returning the ethical brief.

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