top of page

What is the Difference Between Sustainable, Ethical, Fair Trade, and Slow Fashion?

There are different areas to sustainable fashion that you might have heard of but not sure exactly what they mean. Here at HannahMaria Shanahan we are a sustainable oriented label and we pride ourselves on being ethical and slow fashion.

The fashion industry is evolving and changing all the time and especially in the last few years where global warming has come to the front headlines and people are becoming more conscious of what they buy. Recently, Sir David Attenborough has issued a grim warning to world leaders on climate change: “It’s already too late.” The fashion industry unfortunately is the second contributor to the global warming crisis. Let us take a look into the actual definitions of what these terms mean when it comes to sustainability.

Fashion industry words such as sustainable fashion, fair trade fashion, ethical fashion and slow fashion always get stuck in our minds, but what do they really mean in the first place? How do they differ from each other when they’re so closely related?

While they may sound the same, these terms are technically different and we listed down what they mean below. The following information has been taken from global garbs.


We’ve all heard about sustainable fashion, maybe from a blogger, or maybe somewhere from a website we’ve accidentally clicked through. If you haven’t heard it yet, sustainable fashion is also known as “eco-friendly” fashion. This term focuses more on the materials the clothing was used from and how these pieces of fabrics can have a positive or negative impact on the environment. It somehow advocates the use of clothing made from different environment-friendly materials and recycling these materials to be made new again.


First of all, there is fair trade and then there is Fairtrade. The term ‘fair trade’ refers to the general movement, which encompasses many different organisations with the shared aim of alleviating poverty and promoting sustainable development by ensuring a just and transparent supply chain. Fairtrade on the other hand, specifically refers to the certifying and labelling organisation Fairtrade International. This type talks mainly about the people behind the clothing that you use. It focuses more on the condition of the labourers that work for the company that provides you with clothing.


This term is so closely related to both sustainable and fair trade fashion, that you might end up which is which in the world of fashion. However, in reality, a combination of both terms can be considered as “ethical fashion”. This focuses more on the condition of the labourers plus the type of eco-friendly materials a brand uses for the clothes. According to the Ethical Fashion Forum, “Ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing, and manufacture of clothing which maximises benefits to people and communities while minimising the impact on the environment.” In short, it reduces the negative impact on the environment by way of an ethical culture from where clothing is made.


HannahMaria Shanahan is a slow fashion label. We have a production process called made-to-order fashion, meaning that clothes are made only when they are ordered. Each piece is made especially for you. There is a high emphasis on the craftsmanship, low waste and we use eco-friendly and ethically sourced fabrics. Our production is organic and we use cruelty free fabric. Our production process is zero waste which is gentle on the environment.

If you have come across the term “fast fashion”, then slow fashion, as the name suggests, is the exact opposite of it. The term slow fashion focuses on the importance of the quality of clothing a brand produces. Its main goal is to produce pieces that lasts longer and can maintain quality for a longer period of time compared to fast fashion. It is basically the movement of designing, creating and buying garments for quality and longevity. With slow fashion, it encourages fair wages, slower production schedules and technically zero clothing waste. Though somewhat different on how these terms work, these types of fashion are closely related to each other. At some point, they all go towards one same goal, and that is to make fashion a sustainable and a more consumer-friendly one. Though somewhat different on how these terms work, these types of new standards are closely related to each other. At some point, they all go towards one same goal, and that is to make fashion more sustainable and bring a more mindful consumer perspective.


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page