Good Ethical Issue In The Fashion Industry Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Business, Fashion, Ethics, Products, Women, Marketing, People, Owner

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2020/11/12

Present day industry environment has become complex with a myriad of ethical issues disturbing the business image. Fashion industry has often experienced aggravation for using animals, disturbing indigenous cultures, deteriorating the environment, and exploiting poor people in developing nations. These factors go against moral principles that are necessary to govern an individual's behavior and conduct. Issues in fashion industry are so frequent that scholars have coined a term, ethical fashion to represent an approach to sourcing, designing and manufacturing of products that maximize the benefits in the society and minimize the harms.
A recent report by WWF-UK says that global concerns related to social and environmental issues are increasing; it is causing a great cultural shift and forcing the organizations to behave in an acceptable manner. Social and ethical responsibility has become the necessity of the day. Production, marketing, and outsourcing ethics have assumed a significant importance in fashion apparel.
Most of the fashion clothing is manufactured by poor people in developing countries, using child labor at times. On top of that, sellers charge high price for their products and create inequality and sense of superiority in the society. Fashion imparts a distinctly visible signal to people's socio-economic status. It is the reason young people feel obsessed about adopting latest fashion trends.
More often than not, fashion advertisements are seductive and allure people to buy things that they do not actually need. Also, fashion clothing uses women as a marketing instruments. There have been growing concerns about using women as an object in fashion advertisements. This paper analyzes these central ethical issues that may confront a boutique or small fashion business. The author presents a brief case of Fleur De Lis Boutique owned by Kim Czyzyk.
Critics have argued that the primary purpose of advertising is to inform consumers about product's availability rather convincing them to buy things that they do not require. Scholars have opined that using women as a marketing product generates a number of adverse effects on societies and individuals. It negatively impacts the process of socialization, behavior, attitudes, health, and spiritual development in a society. Fashion businesses use so much photo shopping and airbrushing to make their models look perfect. The images on advertisements create a false impression among people, especially children and women, and in the obsession to live up to that unrealistic, carved out images, they feel solace in buying those products. Succinctly, that way this industry advertises their products causes a distorted image of fashion in the society at all levels.
This trend is unethical because it causes unnecessary dissatisfaction in the minds of people. Statistics has revealed that these unhealthy ad images are the most responsible for causing highest rates of anorexia and bulimia in American society. The result is that so many people are being made to feel ugly, overweight and grappling with eating disorders. Thus, fashion advertising takes its toll not on a person's mental health but only on financial health. Advertisements dictate false beauty norms and instill false images in the minds of the people. Feminists scholars including Susan Bordo and Susie Orbach have argued that ideal images have saturated the media in developed nations and have substantially contributed to women's doubts and insecurity. A global survey conducted by Dove in 2005 revealed that many women feel conscious about their overall appearance, shape, and body weight.
Fashion business trap consumers' minds and make them purchase the products including diet pills, makeovers, designer clothing, and all other things that make them look good. It is like brainwashing the minds with an aim to generate more and more profits. There are many ethical theories that criticize seductive advertisements and usage of women as a marketing tactic.
Utilitarians have argued that women exploitation is an unethical action because it may bring unhappiness at the societal level, rather than causing greatest happiness to the greatest numbers of people. Considering negative impacts of seductive marketing on children, utilitarians assert that fashion marketing is treating women in an indecent manner. A renowned deontologist, Kant, has suggested that the moral lies in the act itself, not in happiness or consequences of the act. He has further said, "we should treat others as an end in themselves, not as a means to achieve other ends." Applying this principle to advertisements in the fashion industry, it is clear that this way of selling and advertising is not ethical. It does not use women as an end, rather uses them as a means to lure consumers and generate profits.
Social contract theories have identified three main factors in creating a just society: agreement among moral agents, consent of the individuals, and the method by which an agreement has been obtained. Social contract theories applies contractarian approach; this approach calls for hypothetical consent to justify laws, rules, and principles. A renowned Philosopher argues that a person is liable to obey laws and rules only if he agrees to the authority of those laws. Here, a critical question arises that, " would a rational human being agree on using women as an alluring agent in fashion advertisements?" or " Do firms have the right to use them to generate money?". The answer is "no." There are many people in a society, i.e., parents, religious groups, and women associations that feel discomfort with these practices. There are more ethical principles that also highlight the negativities caused by unethical advertisements in the fashion business.
Related to ravishing advertising is high pricing that is ironical to using cheap labor in developing nations. Many international brands including H&M and Abercrombie & Fitch have been accused of using child labor in third world countries to produce products at a cheaper cost.
The small consignment boutique, Fleur De Lis, has not experienced these ethical issues directly in the business so far. It is a small consignment shop that takes products from individual owners, sell these products and retain a portion from the sale. It is the reason that broader issues of seductive marketing tactics and unethical pricing have not cropped in the business so far. However, there is significant probability the owner may face these issues with business growth in the future. These issues pose considerable ethical dilemmas before fashion companies irrespective of their business size. It is the responsibility of the owners to use ethical advertising and fair pricing. If they strictly adhere to ethical principles and norms, profit margins may deplete. If they go with the growing trends, the question of ethical responsibility may crop up.
However, it is obvious that the owner, Kim Czyzyk, cannot solve these dilemmas on her own. If she acts in extremity, it may mean dwindling profits for the business. The best possible solution for her is to act in moderation. It means that she should try to make a balance between costs and selling price. The owner should try to increase customers' base with the help of quality service and product quality rather than using scams and unethical advertising. She should adhere to prevailing cultural norms in the society while advertising products on a mass level.
Marketing is a cornerstone of every business, irrespective of business type and market size. It is recommended that the owner should carve out a marketing strategy that is driven by honesty, fairness, and, responsibility. For instance, the owner should emphasize more on product's availability, rather than creating pressure to purchase the product. Listening to customers' complaints and addressing them in the best possible manner is also an important aspect to deal with the issue. Kim Czyzyk must maintain transparency throughout the business processes.
As far as the pricing issue is concerned, the owner must maintain the required clearness. It is a consignment shop and the owner also sells used clothing and other fashion related stuff for profits. As such, prices must be set considering moral standards in mind. Apparently the owner would aim to generate profits, she should not set a very high margin for used stuff.
Running an ethical fashion business would include countering cheap fashion and damaging consumption patterns. At the same time, it would be preferable to consider prevailing social and cultural norms while developing a business plan and marketing strategy.


Armstrong, Gary and Philip Kotler. Marketing: An Introduction. Prentice Hall, 2014.
Bayraktar, Ahmet. "Is it Ethical to Use Women As a Marketing Instrument?" Global Conference on Business and Finance Proceedings (2011).
BBC News. TV Brings Eating Disorders to Fiji. 20 May 1999. 13 Feburary 2015 <>.
McNeil, Peter and Sanda Miller. Fashion Writing and Criticism. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014.
Paulins, Ann V. Ethics in Fashion Industry. Bloomsbury Acedemic, 2009.
Skov, Lise. "Ethics and Fashion Industry in West Europe." Copenhagen Business School, November 2008.

Cite this page
Choose cite format:
  • APA
  • MLA
  • Harvard
  • Vancouver
  • Chicago
  • ASA
  • IEEE
  • AMA
WePapers. (2020, November, 12) Good Ethical Issue In The Fashion Industry Essay Example. Retrieved July 14, 2024, from
"Good Ethical Issue In The Fashion Industry Essay Example." WePapers, 12 Nov. 2020, Accessed 14 July 2024.
WePapers. 2020. Good Ethical Issue In The Fashion Industry Essay Example., viewed July 14 2024, <>
WePapers. Good Ethical Issue In The Fashion Industry Essay Example. [Internet]. November 2020. [Accessed July 14, 2024]. Available from:
"Good Ethical Issue In The Fashion Industry Essay Example." WePapers, Nov 12, 2020. Accessed July 14, 2024.
WePapers. 2020. "Good Ethical Issue In The Fashion Industry Essay Example." Free Essay Examples - Retrieved July 14, 2024. (
"Good Ethical Issue In The Fashion Industry Essay Example," Free Essay Examples -, 12-Nov-2020. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 14-Jul-2024].
Good Ethical Issue In The Fashion Industry Essay Example. Free Essay Examples - Published Nov 12, 2020. Accessed July 14, 2024.

Share with friends using:

Related Premium Essays
Contact us
Chat now