Apparel Industry

Companies that design, manufacture, market, and/or license brands for men’s, women’s, and/or children’s clothing, footwear, and accessories.

Alternative Materials

Materials that have less environmental impact and lower overall carbon emissions during production such as Bamboo, Silk and Hemp.

Animal Fiber

Fibres from animals consisting mainly of protein. These fibers are used to make textiles such as wool and cashmere.


A worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand.

Abrasion Resistance

Ability to resist wear from rubbing that contributes to fabric durability. Garments made from fibres with high breaking strength and abrasion resistance can be worn often before signs of physical wear appear (such as ‘pilling’).


Bamboo Fiber

Hypoallergenic, absorbent and fast-growing. Processing bamboo fibre uses less pesticides and fertilizers, and is considered a sustainable choice among other fabrics.

Banana Fiber

Banana fibre has a natural sheen, and the inner strands of the stalk are very fine. The fabric made by banana fibre is claimed to be nearly carbon neutral and its soft texture has been likened to hemp and bamboo.



This framework seeks to create production techniques that are not just efficient but are essentially waste free. In cradle to cradle production all material inputs and outputs are seen either as technical or biological nutrients. Technical nutrients can be recycled or reused with no loss of quality and biological nutrients composted or consumed.

Carbon Foot-Print

The total amount of greenhouse gases emitted directly and indirectly to support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of either carbon or carbon dioxide.

Carbon Neutrality

Carbon neutrality, or having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference.

Carbon Offsetting

A carbon offset is a credit for greenhouse gas reductions achieved by one party that can be purchased and used to compensate (offset) the emissions of another party.  Many types of activities can generate carbon offsets. Renewable energy such as the wind farm example above, or installations of solar, small hydro, geothermal and biomass energy can all create carbon offsets by displacing fossil fuels.

Carbon Credits

A permit that allows a country or organization to produce a certain amount of carbon emissions and that can be traded if the full allowance is not used.


Chromium VI is used in textile manufacturing as a catalyst in the dyeing process and as a dye for wool as well as in tanning leather. Chromium VI, also called Hexavalent Chromium, is recognized as a human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program. Chromium compounds are linked to lung cancer. Chromate-dyed textiles and chromate-tanned leather can cause or exacerbate contact dermatitis.

ColoUr Grown Cotton

Natural colour in cotton comes from natural pigments found in cotton and produce shades ranging from tan to green and brown.

Conscious Dressing

The term refers by dressing with ecologically produced clothing and accessories, as well as recycled, repurposed, second hand, among others. Everyday we can make conscious choices of dressing up with clothes that flag a better world and are made with sustainable practices and fabrics therefore, contributing to  the preservation of the environment and social welfare.

Cotton Production

The cotton production industry is labour intensive and involves a lot of sweat, chemicals and fresh water.

Cruelty-Free Silk or Peace Silk

Instead of boiling the silk cocoon or piercing it in order to release the silk fiber from the cocoons before the moth emerges, killing the silk work in the process, Ahimsa or Peace silk is extracted only after a metamorphosing worm has emerged from its cocoon.

Clothing Rentals

A new industry based on sharing or renting clothing, posing a disruptive force to traditional retailers. It is an efficient and green way to extend the value of garments.

Climate Change

A change in global or regional climate patterns attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.

Clothing Swaps

A type of swap meet wherein participants exchange their valued but no longer used clothing for clothing they will use. Clothing swaps are considered not only a good way to refill one’s wardrobe, but also are considered an act of environmentalism.

Conflict of Interest

A situation in which the concerns or aims of two different parties are incompatible.For example, an unethical situation in which business decisions influence personal gain.

Code of Ethics

A written statement that sets forth the legal principles that should guide that organization’s decisions.



Recycling practice that involves breaking an item down into its component elements or materials. Once the constituent elements or materials are recovered, they are reused if possible but usually as a lower-value product. Ideally, only elements that cannot be reused are discarded. The goal it is reducing waste and improving the efficiency of resource use.


Method of giving colour to a fiber, yarn, fabric, or garment with either natural or synthetic dyes. 

Developing Countries

A country having a standard of living or level of industrial production well below that possible with financial or technical aid.


Thrown away after use, rather than being reused. (


It is the selling of goods at lower prices in foreign markets than in the home market. It might be done for some reasons: to carve out a market niche in an already competitive market; to drive out competitors in a “price war”; to retain market share and employees during slack periods by maintaining output; and to increase profits by increasing production volume. Therefore, domestic industry cannot compete with those goods. 

Dry cleaning

Contrary to what its name implies, dry cleaning involves washing clothes in a liquid solvent to remove stains. In about 85 percent of dry cleaning shops this solvent is perchloroethylene (or “perc”), a chemical that the Environmental Protection Agency considers both a health and environmental hazard.



Moral principles or rules of conduct that distinguish right from wrong. Ethics are demonstrated with fairness, honesty, and respectful manners.

Ethical Fashion Industry

Term to describe ethical fashion design, production, retail, and purchasing. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare.

Eco Fashion

Sustainable fashion is clothing that does not harm our environment and is made out of green materials.

Eco Wool

Wool that is from sheep that have not been exposed to chemicals like pesticides and are kept in humane and good farming conditions.

Eco-friendly Dyes

A low-impact dye is a dye that has been classified by the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 (an international certification process) as eco-friendly. Generally, low impact dyes do not contain toxic chemicals or mordants (which fix the dye to the fabric), require less rinsing and have a high absorption rate in the fabric (~70%). 

Eco-friendly Fabric

Fabrics that are made from fibers that do not require the use of any pesticides or chemicals to grow. They are naturally resistant to mould and mildew and are disease free. Hemp, linen, bamboo and ramie are eco-friendly fibers.

Eco Design

Approach to designing products with special consideration for the environmental impacts of the product during its whole lifecycle. In a life cycle assessment, the life cycle of a product is usually divided into procurement, manufacture, use, and disposal.

Environmental Impact

Possible adverse effects caused by a development, industrial, or infrastructural project or by the release of a substance in the environment.

Environmental Responsibility

The duty that a company has to operate in a way that protects the environment. In other words, refers to our responsibility to use natural resources carefully, minimize damage, and ensure these resources will be available for future generations.

Environmentally friendly laundry

Simple acts that reduce the impact all those loads have on the environment, for example: wash your clothes with cold water, reduce the number of loads you do each week, upgrade to energy efficient washer and dryer, switch to natural detergents and stain removers, etc.

Environmental Rights

An extension of the basic human rights that mankind requires and deserves. In addition to having the right to food, clean water, suitable shelter, and education, having a safe and sustainable environment is paramount as all other rights are dependent upon it.


Fair Trade

This term is used to indicate that a product was produced without labour exploitation, by using environmentally sustainable practices, and that the producers receive fair prices for their product.


A popular style or practice, especially in clothing, footwear, accessories, makeup, body, or furniture. Fashion is a distinctive and often constant trend in the style in which a person dresses. It is the prevailing styles in behaviour and the newest creations of textile designers.

Fashion Revolution

It is a not-for-profit global movement with teams in over 90 countries around the world. Fashion Revolution campaigns for systemic reform of the fashion industry with a focus on the need for greater transparency in the fashion supply chain. Fashion Revolution has designated the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh as Fashion Revolution Day. In 2014, 2015 and 2016 millions of people around the world called on brands to answer the question Who Made My Clothes? The hashtag #whomademyclothes was the no.1 global trend on Twitter.

Fashion Leaders

Fashion leaders are people who are influential in fashion. There are two main dimensions that can be seen in fashion leadership: fashion innovativeness and fashion opinion leadership.

Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is a contemporary term used by fashion retailers to express that designs move from catwalk quickly to capture current fashion trends. This philosophy of quick manufacturing at an affordable price is used in large retailers such as H&M, Zara, Primark and Topshop.

Flax Fiber (Linen)

Linen is the popular name of the textile that is derived from Flax. This natural fiber comes from a plant (from the stem) so it is composed mainly of cellulose. It has excellent strength and absorbs moisture quickly making it a good fiber for hot weather. However, it is prone to wrinkling.



It is the growth of international commerce and communications that makes national boundaries less important, especially in economic matters. 

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

Worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.


Hazardous Chemicals

A hazardous chemical, as defined by the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), is any chemical which can cause a physical or a health hazard.


An ecological crop that is easy to cultivate and fast-growing. It can be used for clothing, nutritious food and building materials.


Made by hand, as opposed to by mass production or using machinery.

Human Rights

Moral principles or norms, which describe certain standards of human behaviour, and are regularly protected as legal rights in municipal and international law.


Import Penetration

It is the percentage of imports in a country’s total market consumption. It measures foreign against domestic goods. 




Locally Made

Clothing made in a local market. Buying locally made clothes is a way to make your shopping a bit greener, support local businesses, strengthen the economy at home, and build relationships within the community. It’s also a great way to find alternative, one-of-a-kind fashion, such as up-cycled or handmade items.


The disposal of waste material by burying it, especially as a method of filling in and reclaiming excavated pits. Our overconsumption and fast fashion  has brought about a massive rise in textile waste dumped in landfill sites. The average US citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually.


My Clothes My World

A FTA educational program to introduce youth to important world issues via one of favourite topics – fashion! Our half and full day education workshops (available in English and French) provide interactive activities that elicit discussion around labour rights, consumerism and environmental degradation. It opens their eyes to the truth about the apparel industry and inspires them to take meaningful action.

Mass Fashion

Styles that are produced in volume and widely sold at lower prices.

Manufacturing Processes

Steps through which raw materials are transformed into a final product. The manufacturing process begins with the creation of the materials from which the design is made. These materials are then modified through manufacturing processes to become the required part.


Natural Fibers

Fibers that come from a plant, animal or mineral source. They can be classified according to their origin. The vegetable, or cellulose-base class includes such important fibres as cotton, flax, and jute; the animal, or protein-base, fibres include wool, mohair, and silk; an important fibre in the mineral class is asbestos.

Natural Dyes

Natural dyes are dyes or colorants derived from plants, invertebrates, or minerals. The majority of natural dyes are vegetable dyes from plant sources—roots, berries, bark, leaves, and wood—and other biological sources such as fungi and lichens.

Natural Resources

Materials or substances such as minerals, forests, water, and fertile land that occur in nature and are necessary or useful for humans. Reducing, Reusing and Reutilizing are some ways to conserve and protect our natural resources.


Organic Fibers

Fibers raised by farmers following standards that nurture the soil or animal from which it comes and do not use toxic insecticides, herbicides or fungicides.

Organic Cotton

Cotton grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or defoliants. Right now, organic cotton represents less than 0.1 percent of all the cotton produced worldwide.  Alternatively organic cotton never uses {GMO} and their seeds are untreated with the potentially harmful insecticides and fungicides. Soil and water tidbits: The conventional method of growing cotton puts down synthetic fertilizers where as organic cotton builds strong soil through well-monitored crop rotation.

Offshore production

Manufacturing that is done overseas. 

Offshore Sourcing

Buying goods from overseas producers, or contracting with foreign manufacturing plants. 



Substances that are meant to control pests. Unsafe use of agricultural chemicals has severe health impacts on workers in the field and on ecosystems that receive excess doses that run-off from farms.




It means taking an item and giving it a new or different purpose. With clothes this means that instead of throwing an item away because it is out of fashion they are turned into something desirable and useful. Almost any type of clothing can be repurposed. The fabric content alone means that clothing can be resown or used to make quilts or for patchwork projects. However, with a little creativity, clothes can be transformed into practical items or stunning works of art.


Process to change items considered as waste into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials and reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials.

Recycled Clothing

Reused or reprocessed clothing, fibrous materials and clothing scraps. Manufacturing requires raw materials and the process usually contributes to pollution of both the air and in the soil. Manufacturing also requires huge energy resources. Recycling your second hand clothes means that less raw materials are needed, less energy is used and less pollution is generated.

Raw Materials

A raw material, also known as a feedstock or most correctly unprocessed material, is a basic material that is used to produce goods, finished products, energy, or intermediate materials which are feedstock for future finished products.

Raising consumer awareness

Spreading knowledge about a business and its products and services or an idea. Advertising on relevant websites, promoting campaigns and events are efficient ways of raising customer awareness.

Resizing Fashion’s Footprint Campaign

FTA consumer awareness campaign, Resizing Fashion’s Footprint, provides 12 easy actions you can take to reduce the environmental impact of your wardrobe such as Wear Second-Hand or Vintage Clothing, Hang Your Clothes To Dry, Use The Correct Amount of Detergent When Doing Laundry and so on.

Rana Plaza Factory Collapse

A structural failure that occurred on 24 April 2013 in the Savar Upazila of Dhaka District, Bangladesh, where an eight-story commercial building named Rana Plaza collapsed. Considered the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry worldwide. Eighty percent of the workers were young women, 18, 19, 20 years of age.  Their standard shift was 13 to 14 ½ hours, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 or 10:30 p.m., toiling 90 to 100 hours a week with just two days off a month.  Young “helpers” earned 12 cents an hour, while “junior operators” took home 22 cents an hour, $10.56 a week, and senior sewers received 24 cents an hour and $12.48 a week.



Represents a philosophy that attempts to meet the goals of three competing interests – people, business and the planet.

Sustainable Fashion

Also called eco fashion, it is a part of the growing design philosophy and trend of sustainability, the goal of which is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility.

Sustainable Fabrics

Refers to fabrics derived from eco-friendly resources, such as sustainably grown fiber crops or recycled materials. It also refers to how these fabrics are made. Historically, being environmentally conscious towards clothing meant buying clothes from thrift stores or any shops that sell second-hand clothing, or donating used clothes to shops previously mentioned, for reuse or resale. In modern times, with a prominent trend towards sustainability and being ‘green’, sustainable clothing has expanded towards reducing the amount of clothing discarded to landfills, and decreasing the environmental impact of agro-chemicals in producing conventional fiber crops (e.g. cotton).

Sustainable Fashion Movement

It represents all things “eco”, “ethical” and “green” in one unified movement. The ‘slow approach’ of the sustainable fashion movement intervenes as a revolutionary process in the contemporary world because it encourages taking time to ensure quality production, to give value to the product, and contemplate the connection with the environment.


Soy fabrics are derived from the hulls of soybeans—a manufacturing byproduct. Soy fabrics can be blended or made entirely out of soy fibres. Soy clothing is largely biodegradable, so it has a minimal impact on environment and landfills. Although not as durable as cotton or hemp fabrics, soy clothing has a soft, elastic feel. Soy clothing is known as the vegetable cashmere for its light and silky sensation. Soy fabrics are moisture absorbent, anti-bacterial, and UV resistant.


A natural protein fiber produced by moths. Conventional methods can terminate the moth and cocoon in development; an alternative variation called ‘Ahimsa’ uses methods that do not harm the moth. Since it does not have the harsh dyes included in the conventional silk production method, it is also softer.

Sweat shops

Manufactures facilities, usually in developing countries, that violate basic human rights making its employees work under harsh and often hazardous conditions, and pay only minimum or survival wages. 


It is defined as a particular way of doing or saying something, or refers to a unique form of clothing or way of arranging your appearance. In other words, the manner in which something is expressed or performed, considered as separate from its intrinsic content, meaning, etc.

Slow Fashion

The movement of designing, creating, and buying garments for quality and longevity. It encourages slower production schedules, fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and (ideally) zero waste. By adding transparency about production process and educating consumers about the craft of making clothing, slow fashion companies hope consumers will begin to understand what is required of producing a well-made garment.

Second-Hand Clothing

A secondhand or used good is one that is being purchased by or otherwise transferred to a second or later end user. It is consider an important way to spread sustainable consumption.

Seasonless Clothing

Pieces of clothes to wear now and forever. The reasoning? All the pieces should fit together in one closet you never feel the need to ditch or replace.

Safe Work Conditions

Multidisciplinary field concerned with the safety, health, and welfare of people at work.

Synthetic Fibers

Fibers that are synthesized from non-fibrous materials – majority are made from petroleum-based chemical,


Textile Industry

The textile industry is primarily concerned with the design and production of yarn, cloth, clothing, and their distribution. The raw material may be natural, or synthetic using products of the chemical industry.



Lack of hidden agendas or conditions, accompanied by the availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision making.  Corporate transparency describes the extent to which a corporation’s actions are observable by outsiders. To increment transparency, corporations infuse greater disclosure, clarity, and accuracy into their communications with stakeholders.

Textile Waste

Textile waste is a material that is deemed unusable for its original purpose by the owner. Textile waste can include fashion and textile industry waste, created during fibre, textile and clothing production, and consumer waste, created during consumer use and disposal.

Thrift Shops

Retailers that sell used secondhand clothes and other household goods, most often to raise money for charity. 



Reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original. We can upcycle Just about anything: Wine bottles, cans, newspapers, milk cartons, tires, suitcases, jeans, you name it. If you no longer have a use for it, upcycle it!

Unfair Labour Practices

Actions taken by employers or unions that are illegal under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and other labor laws. Some of these rules apply to the interactions between the employer and the union; others protect individual workers from unfair treatment by an employer or union.

Unethical Disposal of Contaminated Water

The only substances allowed down drains are those that meet all of the following criteria: Nonhazardous (No radioactive waste / No hazardous chemical waste/ No untreated biohazardous waste); Liquid (No solids, sludges, or viscous substances); Will not interfere with sewage treatment operations (No corrosive pH levels / No grease or oil / No hot (150°F or higher) temperatures in volumes of more than 10 gallons).


Vintage Clothing

Garments that are at least 20 years old that have a recognizable look that communicates the style of an earlier decade. The key to this definition is that the garment is really 20+ years old rather than a newer reproduction of an older look. Thus, “vintage” as a concept is closely linked with authenticity.



Natural fibre that comes from the fleece of sheep.


Less expensive wool fabric, made of short fibres, that are relatively dense and has soft, fuzzy surface.

World Ethical Apparel Roundtable (WEAR)

Canada’s Sustainable Business Conference for the Apparel & Textile Industry. Each year, WEAR provides a forum to share examples of leadership with the entire North American apparel and textile industry.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

It is an international trade accord that reduces tariffs, quotas, and other trade barriers around the world. It is an agreement of over 150 countries that negotiates and enforces global trade rules. It is meant to liberalize trade and serve as an international trade court for the settlement of differences.




Zero Waste

It is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. No trash is sent to landfills or incinerators. The process recommended is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature.

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