Thursday, October 18, 2007

Is Paris Buying?

Ethical fashion seems to be an oxymoron in France, for the time being:

At Paris's Ethical Fashion Show, currently the world's largest event spotlighting eco and fair-trade fashion, California's Maia Anderson concluded her first European order, for a store in London.

"I think Brits like well-designed but down-to-earth urban wear," she said of her Convoy label clothing made of recycled, organic and sustainably grown materials. "But tell me, why London or Switzerland, why not orders for Paris?"

....though the event clearly is attracting widening interest, the question even the organisers were asking was whether ethical fashion was really taking off? And if so, where?

....In France, hypermarket chains such as Monoprix and Carrefour are featuring ethical fashion designers and also produce house brand organic cotton T-shirts. But the buzz has yet to hit the streets.

"Frankly," said Florence Godinho, owner of a boutique in an upscale western Paris suburb, "though I'm interested in the whole ethical fashion thing, my customers know little about organic cotton and don't seem interested in the women's coops in India or Kenya who make the clothing."

"I'm looking for a couple of labels to sell in my store," she said at the event, "but I have little demand for organic anything."

Even mighty La Redoute sees a snail's progress ahead for now. "Mentalities are changing here, but slowly and not at any price," said Elisebeth Cazorla, the firm's ethical fashion head.

"Consumers must be able to wear the product to buy it, and the fact that it is fair trade is secondary," she said.

"In spite of steps we and others have taken, the move to ethical fashion has been much slower here than in London."

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