A Fashion Revolutionary’s Glossary of Terms

This list of definitions from Fashion Revolution’s online course Fashion’s Future and the Sustainable Development Goals provides useful reference points when navigating the world of a Fashion Revolutionary


Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth. It comprises variability within species, among species, and of ecosystems. It also refers to the complex relationships among living things, and between living things and their environment. [1] 


Child labour is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. [2]

Circular Economy (Circularity) is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of their use. [3]

Collective bargaining is a process where employers and unions negotiate to determine fair wages and working conditions. [4]


Decent Work involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organise and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men. [5]

Due diligence is a process through which companies assesses their impacts on human rights and the environment and then take actions to reduce any negative impacts.


Environmental impacts refers to the direct effect of socio-economic activities on the environment. [6]

Equal pay means that men and women in the same employment performing equal work must receive equal remuneration. This applies not only to salary, but to all contractual terms and conditions of employment, such as holiday entitlement, bonuses, pay and reward schemes, pension payments and other benefits. [7]


Freedom of Association is the right of individuals and workers to form and join groups of their own choosing in order to take collective action to pursue the interest of the members of the group. [8]

Forced labour refers to situations in which persons are coerced to work through the use of violence or intimidation, or by more subtle means such as accumulated debt, retention of identity papers or threats of denunciation to immigration authorities. [9]


Gender-based violence is violence directed against a person because of their gender. Both women and men experience gender-based violence but the majority of victims are women and girls. Gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. [10]

Gender equality refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. Equality does not mean that women and men will become the same but that women’s and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions refers to the release of greenhouse gases (GHG), into the atmosphere over a specified period of time. GHGs, such as CO2 and Methane, are any gases which absorb and re-emit heat and therefore keeps the planet’s atmosphere warmer than it otherwise would be. [11]


Living wage is a wage a worker earns in a standard working week that is enough to provide for them and their family’s basic needs – including food, housing, clothing, education and healthcare. [12]


Microplastics are plastic pieces that are less than 5 mm in length. There are two sources; primary and secondary. Primary sources are microplastics that have been made to be that size (for example, microbeads in cosmetics or plastic glitter). Secondary microplastic comes from larger items of plastic that have fragmented (for example, plastic pieces fragmented from a polyethylene carrier bag).


Sub-contracting refers to manufacturers out-sourcing certain production processes to other factories and workplaces, often without informing the buyer. In this way, even complete orders may be shifted by the contractual supplier to unknown suppliers. The subcontracted factories and workplaces are not formally part of the buyer’s supply chain so the brands’ corporate social compliance audits do not take place there. [13]

Supply chain / value chain refers to all the steps it takes to produce and sell a product, from farm to closet. [14]

Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Synthetic Fibres such as nylon and polyester, are produced entirely from chemicals and sometimes fossil fuels such as oil.


Transparency means credible, comprehensive and comparable public disclosure of data and information about fashion’s supply chains, business practices and the impacts of these practices on workers, communities and the environment.


Wet processing facilities are involved in the production of clothing whose activities typically involving chemicals and large quantities of water such as rinsing, bleaching, dyeing, printing, treating or coating fabric and laundering.


  1. CBD. BUSINESS AND THE 2010 BIODIVERSITY CHALLENGE: INTRODUCTION TO THE CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY. In: A background paper for the Business and the 2010 Biodiversity Challenge Meeting. London; 2005. Available from: https://www.cbd.int/doc/meetings/biodiv/b2010-01/information/b2010-01-inf-02-en.doc
  2. ILO. What is child labour? [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2019 May 1]. Available from: https://www.ilo.org/ipec/facts/lang–en/index.html
  3. WRAP. WRAP and the circular economy [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2019 May 1]. Available from: http://www.wrap.org.uk/about-us/about/wrap-and-circular-economy
  4. ILO. 8.Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2019 May 1]. Available from: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/dw4sd/themes/freedom-of-association/lang–ru/index.htm
  5. ILO. ILO’s Decent Work Agenda [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2019 May 1]. Available from: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/decent-work/lang–en/index.htm
  6. OECD. Environmental Impact [Internet]. Glossary of Statistical Terms. 2001 [cited 2019 May 1]. Available from: https://stats.oecd.org/glossary/detail.asp?ID=827
  7. Commission E and HR. What is equal pay? [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2019 May 1]. Available from: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/what-equal-pay
  8. ILO. Freedom of Association [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2019 May 1]. Available from: http://ilo.org/global/topics/freedom-of-association-and-the-right-to-collective-bargaining/lang–en/index.htm
  9. ILO. The meanings of Forced Labour [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2019 May 1]. Available from: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/news/WCMS_237569/lang–en/index.html
  10. Krug E, Dahlberg L, Mecry J, Zwi A, Lozano R. World report on violence and health. Geneva; 2002. Available from: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/42495/9241545615_eng.pdf;jsessionid=4174C94FF370A8E2E83C181905314A48?sequence=1
  11. OECD. Greenhouse gas emissions [Internet]. Glossary of Statistical Terms. 2001 [cited 2019 May 1]. Available from: https://stats.oecd.org/glossary/detail.asp?ID=1152
  12. Clean Clothes Campaign. A Living Wage = A Human Right [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2019 May 1]. Available from: https://cleanclothes.org/livingwage
  13. SOMO. Hidden subcontracting in the garment industry. 2012. Available from: https://www.somo.nl/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Hidden-subcontracting.pdf
  14. OECD. Global Value Chains (GVCs) [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2019 May 1]. Available from: http://www.oecd.org/sti/ind/global-value-chains.htm