German Christians emphasize ethical issues in fashion industry

Published April 16, 2012

Ethical Fashion Action Week in Frankfurt, Germany is taking a critical but creative look at problems in the global fashion industry. Photo: catwalker /

German Catholic and Protestant organizations are working together to encourage young people to think beyond image and consider the backstory of the clothes they wear with an “Ethical Fashion Action Week” launching on April 16 at Goethe University, Frankfurt.

“Many students are very concerned about what they wear and which trends they follow. Many have their own fashion blogs where they regularly post new outfits. But no one asks where their clothes are produced,” said Kathrin Schreivogl, of the Protestant Student Association, Frankfurt in an interview.

The events kick off with the opening of an exhibition, “Made In — Made By,” which documents environmental and human rights issues involving the global fashion industry.

“These everyday items provide ‘material’ for complex global issues: how do we in Germany connect with people in the manufacturing countries,” Schreivogl said. “Almost every new acquisition in the closet has a world tour behind it: For example, the cotton comes from Benin, the fabric is woven in India, dyed in Turkey and sewn together in low-wage countries like Romania.”

A fashion show of “ethically-produced clothing” will give students a taste of high-style looks produced by fair trade and ecologically-conscious companies, while panel discussions with experts from advocacy groups including Future for Cotton and the Campaign for Clean Clothing will examine how such standards can be promoted.

There will also be a screening of the film “China Blue,” by Micha Peled who went undercover to reveal the inhumane conditions of teenage workers in a Chinese factory producing jeans for consumers in the Western world.

“We are trying to make clear what the problems are and what people can do — but in a creative way,” said Dominic Kloos of the Rhine-Mosel-Saar Ecumenical Network in an interview. His organization is collaborating on the Action Week with groups including Frankfurt’s Protestant and Catholic student associations, the diocese of Mainz, the Protestant Church of Hessen-Nassau and Pax Christi, a Catholic organization that works for peace and justice.


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