FASHION REVOLUTION WEEK
With the current COVID-19 pandemic it is now more important than ever to stop and think #whomademyclothes???
Fashion Revolution is the world’s largest fashion activism movement. This week marks the 7th anniversary of the horrific Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh sadly killing 1,134 people and injuring more than double that.
With the world in crisis many brands have halted production of clothing in countries all around the world including Bangladesh, China, and India. The spiral effect this pause on production has on these vulnerable workers is astronomical. We thought their minimum wages before Covid-19 was low - try no income.
Here is a little snippet from a Fashion revolution article:
While we have been encouraging an end to overconsumption for many years, we also know that in the face of this unexpected halt in manufacturing, it is the most vulnerable, lowest paid people in the fashion supply chain that feel the worst effects. IndustriALL, the global trade union which works to give workers around the world a voice, says that millions of garment makers have already lost their jobs as a result of the virus and have no access to social or financial safety nets to help them weather this storm.
In the global fashion industry, brands typically pay their suppliers weeks or even months after delivery, rather than upon order. This means that suppliers usually pay upfront for the materials or fibres used to make the products brand buy from them. In response to the pandemic, many major fashion brands and retailers are cancelling orders and stopping payments for orders already placed, even when the work has already been done, taking no responsibility for the impact this has on the people working in their supply chains.
The AWAJ Foundation says that many factories in Bangladesh have been shut down indefinitely.Nazma Akter the executive director of AWAJ explains, “These workers now don’t know how they will take care of their families in the coming days – how they will manage costs for food, rent and other necessities. The meager income these workers earned was barely enough to cover their living costs, and as a result, they have little to no savings set aside to deal with a crisis such as this.”
---This part of the article really hits home for me personally. When in Bangladesh for an Operation Groundswell trip I was fortunate enough to meet Nazma and chat with some of her foundation members. It was one of the most eye-opening experiences of the trip and my life.—
Meanwhile, in this current crisis, we believe that our capacity for empathy is strengthened by our shared global experience. While we may be stuck indoors, using social media our voices can still be amplified, especially when we speak up together. That’s why we’re asking our global community to be louder than ever. To ask #WhoMadeMyClothes? and demand that fashion brands protect the workers in their supply chain just as they would their own employees, especially during this unprecedented global health and economic crisis.
Since returning from and insightful trip to Bangladesh in 2017 my outlook on fashion changed completely. (See blog posts about trip here).
I’m continually educating myself on sustainable practices in sewing, buying, business and life itself.
I also want to acknowledge that it is ok to not be perfect. Every little bit counts. Hey, even stopping to think about the person who made your clothes and maybe how much money they received for that t-shirt you are wearing means that you are opening your mind up to the world of sustainable fashion.
It really is a great place to be.
I’ll also admit, Aunty Ellen is not 100% sustainable.
In my mind it’s impossible to form a product based business that is. But we are trying ! We aim to look at every step and process of our business and choose the sustainable option.
It can be challenging and not very profitable (see the true cost of a baby button up blog post here) but it is the right thing to do. The right thing by the planet and the people in it.
The Fashion Revolution campaign this year will focus on four key areas:
- It is so important to stop and think before purchasing an item of clothing. But hey Aunty Ellen aren’t you trying to sell me that dress? Yes, Yes I am. But only If you will love and care for it for years to come. Pause before adding something to the cart and think - do I have something similar? Will I love this and treat it well? Do I need this ?
Composition – how our clothing breaks down and what fabrics we should be investing in.
- Aunty Ellen only uses natural fibres. Why ? Because it is so amazing. Take if from a Gold Coast girl who had a poly filled wardrobe. It is not only better to wear (comfy as!) but better for the world. Aunty Ellen also aims to use organic cotton thread for sewing and avoids zips, and any plastic to ensure garments are fully biodegradable at end of life (which should be a long long time in the future).
Conditions – of where and which our clothing is made in.
- All Aunty Ellen clothes are made by Me (Ellen) in either my tiny house studio on the Gold Coast or in my Granny’s studio in Brisbane.
Collective Action – required from us as consumers, our industry and governments.
- Talk ! Talk to your mates about where your clothes come from and get the conversation going!
Stay safe in these unknown times and remember to ask yourself #whomademyclothes? and better yet what can I do about it ? Further reading/info :
Wardrobe Crisis Podcast by Claire Press - How Covid-19 is impacting garment workers
The True Cost - Netflix
Open Studio - With the current pandemic businesses are showcasing their studios via Zoom IGTV etc. check it out!
Conscious Chatter Podcast - Outland denim and Covid-19