An Interview with ‘Ans’ – Argentinian Artisans & the Future for Ethical Fashion
by Jennifer Barton: ethical fashion/living blogger and founder of SocialChangeRoom.com
Can you give us a brief insight into who you are and what you do?
Being passionate about art & design, I started Ans with the idea of supporting and portraying the work of Argentinian designers and artisans to the world. Born in Argentina but living in London with our three children, our dream is to support people in need. We examine the various ways in which fashion designers and artists approach Fair-trade design, from materials and processes to concepts and techniques (products made from organic or alternative fibres, recycled or re-used materials). We are committed to provide our customers with brilliant products and to exceed their expectations in every way possible. We offer door to door delivery internationally. Where did the name ‘Ans’ come from?
We named our project “Ans” to honour a friend of us who was a great artist and who very unfortunately died of an epileptic attack.
What made you decide to take your line in an ethical direction?
I am a believer that we can all contribute to make a better world to live in, I think of the future of the human race, animals and plants and it really worries me that we still don’t seem to care about our habitat as we should, my husband thinks like me so we decided to do something about, we hope our project will grow so we can fulfil our plans to support artisans who care about our environment. This way we aim to discourage people buying mass produced fashion and home accessories cheaply but painfully made in sweatshops.
What do you think are the most important issue when considering ethical fashion?
Ethical Fashion aims to address the problems it sees with the way the fashion industry currently operates, such as exploitative labour, environmental damage, the use of hazardous chemicals, waste, and animal cruelty.
• Serious concerns are often raised about exploitative working conditions in the factories that make cheap clothes for the high street.
• Child workers, alongside exploited adults, can be subjected to violence and abuse such as forced overtime, as well as cramped and unhygienic surroundings, bad food, and very poor pay. The low cost of clothes on the high street means that less and less money goes to the people who actually make them.
• Cotton provides much of the world’s fabric, but growing it uses 22.5% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of the world’s pesticides, chemicals which can be dangerous for the environment and harmful to the farmers who grow it.
• Current textile growing practices are considered unsustainable because of the damage they do to the immediate environment. For example, the Aral Sea in Central Asia has shrunk to just 15% of its former volume, largely due to the vast quantity of water required for cotton production and dying.
• Most textiles are treated with chemicals to soften and dye them, however these chemicals can be toxic to the environment and can be transferred to the skin of the people wearing them. Hazardous chemicals used commonly in the textile industry are: lead, nickel, chromium IV, aryl amines, phthalates and formaldehyde.
• The low costs and disposable nature of high street fashion means that much of it is destined for incinerators or landfill sites.
• Many animals are farmed to supply fur for the fashion industry, and many people feel that their welfare is an important part of the Ethical Fashion debate.
Do you think it is ever okay to buy jewelry from high street stores?
It depends if you know from where it comes from and how it’s produced. We must be aware of the social impact of mining and production within the jewellery industry and with the lack of transparency within the supply chain.
What do you see for ‘Ans’ in the future?
Hopefully, Ans would have grown enough to be able to make a profit, support artisans and designers from South America and create awareness about ethical fashion.
Who do you admire in the world of ethical fashion?
Stella McCartney, Izzy Lane, Chichia, Carrie Parry
What would like to see changed in the fashion industry?
I would love big fashion retailers to stock only ethical designers. People love fashion, which by its nature is constantly moving, fickle and hugely wasteful. To counter this I believe in wearing items for their functional lifespan and being more discerning when making purchases, hopefully people will try to only ever buy an item they truly love and will wear to death. Then recycle what’s left of it.