Fashion Revolution have made an awesome Who Made My Clothes short film. Watch it, it’s short and to the point.
Doesn’t it just bring home how many people are involved in making our clothes, how many processes are involved and how global fashion production is? So global in fact, that transparency in the supply chain (yes, it’s a bit of a dry and unsexy subject) is woefully lacking, to say the least. Fashion Revolution was founded in the wake of Rana Plaza. They’re campaigning hard for greater transparency, so that brands can be held to account and meaningful change can take place. Hopefully this will put an end to any more Rana Plaza’s. No life should end because of corporate greed and gross negligence, let alone 1,138. And no one should be able to wash their hands of responsibility or compensation to injured survivors and grieving families. Who Made My Clothes is such a simple message to tackle such a mammoth battle against unfathomable injustice, greed, poverty and unethical practice.
If you want to get involved, there are seven super quick and easy ways you can get behind Fashion Revolution during Fashion Revolution Week. Handy that, one for each day. We’re now half way though but don’t despair if you haven’t done anything yet, there’s still time. Plenty of time.
As I couldn’t find a better image and this is pretty small, I’ve included the list below.
- Ask #WhoMadeMyClothes
- Sign the manifesto
- Send a postcard to a policymaker
- Create a love story
- Try a #haulternative
- Go to an event
If we all worked together and everyone did just one of the actions listed above we could make an almighty impact in a very short space of time. I’ve been undertaking an action a day this week. Most have taken less than 5 minutes.
Here’s my diary for Fashion Revolution 2018.
Signed the manifesto. Took less than 5 minutes to read and a few seconds to sign. You can sign it here.
It was an absolute privilege to meet so many inspirational faces behind brilliant UK based sustainable fashion brands and organisations.
Emily Evans, Creative Director and Designer at Zola Amour spoke of why she set up her own fashion label; the concept behind her collection – a perfectly well-designed capsule wardrobe in neutral colours made from certified sustainable fabrics by Emily and her Mum (just so charming); the challenges of running a sustainable business; and the frustrations of communicating the virtues of organic, sustainable garments made in the UK to price sensitive customers who are used to cheap as chips fast fashion prices. I’ve just bought one of her dark grey tee’s to add into my capsule and I can’t wait for it to arrive. Knowing that Emily designed and made the tee makes it even more special. And because she’s so conscientious about sustainability I don’t have to worry about it’s provenance or the supply chain behind it. You can read more about Zola Amour’s story here.
John Pritchard, owner of Pala Eyewear spoke of the personal satisfaction of employing workers in developing countries and paying them a decent living wage specifically designed to alleviate poverty; the way in which Pala fund optical centres in developing countries; and the frustrations of blending sustainability with the costs and practicalities of running a business. An issue at the moment – the plastic shipping bags used by DHL and the lack of an eco alternative made in this country. You can read more about Pala’s story on their website. To hear the level of detail that these sustainable business owners are going into is awe-inspiring. It was such an honour to meet the owner in person and to hear about Pala’s philosophy first hand. I already own a pair of Maha Pala sunglasses, featured in one of my previous posts, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. There are loads of other styles too – something for everyone. They come with a fab woven case, which is made of recycled plastic by fairly paid workers. Considering how much good these glasses are doing beyond protecting eyes from the sun’s rays, they’re very reasonably priced, especially compared to designer sunnies. And these look and feel like designer sunnies. I should know, I’ve owned a lot of designer sunglasses in the past. Something I’m not hugely proud of, but I’m a product of my time.
And finally, Christine Gent, well what can I say. She’s one of the most inspirational, formidable and fascinating human-beings I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. World Fair Trade Organisation Fair Trade Expert, owner of ethical bedding company Fairly Covered, on the board of the People Tree Foundation and involved with Fashion Revolution. She spoke about the challenges facing Fashion Revolution and trying to slow the pace of campaigning down to demonstrate the beauty of slow fashion; the importance of using good quality fabrics for sustainable and ethical clothes (and bed clothes) – grown fairly, produced fairly, traded fairly, crafted fairly, sold for a fair price; the need for legislation with bite to make meaningful and enduring changes within the industry; the importance and success of the Modern Slavery Act; the difficulty with wholesaling for sustainable businesses; and the challenging business decisions that have to be made to make sustainable business work.
These are just a few of the people making it possible for all of us to enjoy conscious consumerism; slower, fairer more equitable fashion. They’re not just bleating on about the changes that need to happen. Or sitting around talking about how it’s all too hard. They’re out there, doing it, being the change, finding the creative solutions, solving the problems and I can’t tell you how uplifting it is to be surrounded by people like Christine, Siobhan, Emily and John. I’d also like to take a moment to thank Hermione and Harriet, who work tirelessly to campaign, organise events, publish Zines and keep a finger in all of the ethical fashion pies via their fabulous blog Revival Collective.
I spoke at the event for a few minutes too. I spoke about the Six Items Challenge that I took part in last year, my journey towards a more sustainable wardrobe, having a work-in-progress ethical lifestyle, why I’m so angry at the high street fashion giants and have largely shunned them in favour of smaller ethical brands. To be honest, I felt completely unworthy next to the heavy weights of the sustainable fashion world and fear I waffled on and taught sustainable fashionistas to suck fair-trade eggs. But I’m glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I feel like a tiny cog in a fight against a monstrous machine but well, tiny cogs the machine maketh. I’m also delighted that I got to spend a lunchtime with some of the big cogs of the sustainable fashion machine.
Donated to Fashion Revolution. This took less than 30 seconds. Just a simple text sent from my phone.
If you want to donate £10, for example, send FASH18 £10 to 70 070. You can of course change the amount you wish to donate.
Posted #WhoMadeMyClothes on social media.
#WhoMadeMyClothes @ukgap? Can you assure me they were safe? Paid fairly? That this was made in a factory audited for issues like fire safety? Unlawful Child-Labour? Or was this made in a factory to accommodate a massive order? Where the conditions, pay rates and employee rates are unknown. How transparent is your supply chain? If you don’t know, why don’t you know? Can I sweat it out in my #gapfit gym kit knowing that this wasn’t made in sweat-shop conditions? And what about the fabric? Is it sustainable? Who dyed it? Who grew it? I’m so excited to hear back from you as I’ll be honest your Gap Fit range is pretty awesome.
#WhoMadeMyClothes @UKGap? Were they safe? Paid fairly? Was this made in a safety compliant factory? Is your supply chain transparent yet? And what about the fabric? Sustainable? Let me know, #Gapfit is pretty awesome so I’d love to know more about my tee. #FashionRevolution
I’m not holding my breath (and how annoying is that breathe in my yoga tee) for a reply. I didn’t get a satisfactory response from Dr. Denim last year. And they hold themselves up as a sustainable fashion label. Gap are a high street brand, there have been grave concerns about the production of their clothes in the past, notably the involvement of child labour. But you know, I’ll try and dial down my inner pessimist and hold out a tiny thread of hope. Watch this space.
Anyway, the point is that my questions are out there now and it took me less than 10 minutes to take a quick snap and post.
A productive 4 days so far.
Here are my plans for the rest of the week.
In honour of the haulternative I’m off to Marwood Bar & Coffeehouse in Brighton tomorrow for a bit of clothes swapping. I’ve got 3 items to take with me that will hopefully be accepted for swap tokens. I can’t wait to see what treasures I’ll find from other peoples’ wardrobes for my capsule. And I’ve invited a friend too, hopefully she can make it and we’ll have a bit of a fun night out to boot. Decluttering, new clothes, seeing friends. Win, win, win.
Write To a Policy Maker. I’m planning to send a postcard to a policy-maker. I’m thinking about who to contact. Our local MP, Nick Herbert, has responded to my emails relating to other things in the past. But I don’t feel he’s the right person for this particular communication. I feel it needs to go higher. Watch this space.
Create a Love Story. Now, during a bout of decluttering this week I found my beloved dark grey Bibico cardigan. This has been missing for months. And you notice missing things when you have a capsule wardrobe. So it’s not like I hadn’t been looking for it but I just figured I must have misplaced it during the move. And I managed without it. And didn’t see fit to replace it either. Which just goes to prove what I’ve been saying over and over since the Six Items Challenge, WE ALL NEED LESS STUFF. You will cope and have a happy life with less. I didn’t suddenly have a nervous breakdown or bad day because I didn’t have my favourite cardigan. It was fine.
The fab Bibico cardigan.
Back to my cardi. I’m ashamed to say that I found it scrunched up with some of the girls’ clothes destined for the charity shop in the bottom of a carrier bag in the garage. Even though I don’t need it I’m delighted to have found it. I noticed that it has a small hole in the seam and I’m planning to fix it. Yep, I’m actually planning to do a bit of DIY mending. That’s how much I love this cardigan. And if my fix doesn’t work out, I’ll pay someone who knows what they’re doing to do it for me. Loved, damaged, abandoned, lost, found, rescued, fixed and cherished. The life cycle of my cardigan so far. Welcome back. #lovedclotheslast.
So, that’s it. Fashion Revolution Week done in Seven Easy Actions, Every Day.
And it doesn’t end there. You can do any of the above any day of the year. Much like the global fashion industry is 24/7 365, so is the campaign to fight it and make it better for everyone.
There’s loads more information in Fashion Revolution’s download How To Be A Fashion Revolutionary.
I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to for Fashion Revolution or if I’ve inspired you to take any actions, even tiny ones.