Words: Annemarie Strassel
Source: DISSENT Spring 2014
The 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh evoked iconic moments in labor history when primarily young, female participants in the garment industry suffered and organized for their lives. Today, the chain of young, female, often migrant labor stretches from the ruined factories of Bangladesh to global style centers like New York and London, where legions of underpaid or unpaid interns, models, and other workers form a creative underclass. In the United States, many have few or no protections under the National Labor Relations Act. And unlike factory workers, the creative side of the industry is just beginning to organize. Both sides are working to close the geographic and conceptual space dividing fashion and labor.
In September 2013 Nautica’s Spring 2014 runway show was interrupted by an unusual coalition of models and Bangladeshi garment workers, protesting the company’s failure to sign a factory safety accord backed by Calvin Klein, Zara, and other major labels. Spearheading the effort was Kalpona Akter, a former child factory worker turned executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, and Sara Ziff, the head of Model Alliance, an advocacy organization for models.
“At first glance the runways of New York and the factories of Bangladesh couldn’t look farther apart, and yet we are all working in the same industry—the fashion industry—which is a $1.5 trillion business, where the work is overwhelmingly performed by young women and girls,” says Ziff. “We all work under different socioeconomic conditions. We work in the same industry. We’re all trying to assert our rights in a hostile labor environment, and we all want to have a voice in our work.”
Read more here.
Humorous advert from BMW suggests that not understanding sustainable production will soon be as laughable as not knowing what the internet is.
Source: Norden by Nordic Council 27 April 2015
Scandinavian design is already world famous. Now it’s the turn of the Nordic fashion and textile industry, which is set to become the most sustainable in the world. The vision of a new Nordic action plan presented by the Nordic Ministers for the Environment in Copenhagen today is for the Region to “lead the way when it comes to sustainable design, consumption, and production”.
The objective of the action plan is for fashion and textiles to be part of a circular economy by 2050, in which the lifetime of products is extended, and textile fibres are kept in a closed circuit in which they are used over and over again. Tomorrow’s fashion designers play a key role in this action plan:
“We want to develop a Nordic academy for sustainable fashion and design to educate designers throughout the Region in sustainability. There’s also a range of new business opportunities within green fashion – the Region can contribute to solving global environmental problems while creating growth and jobs,” says Denmark’s Minister for the Environment Kirsten Brosbøl.
Read more here.
Watch, weep and join the revolution. Fashion films have long captivated but this film could play an unprecedented role in transforming the fashion industry.
The True Cost - Official Trailer.
Available worldwide May 29th 2015
Words: Sarah Ditty, Fashion Revolution – Global Coordination Team, Head of Policy
Source: Fashion Revolution 1 May 2015
On Friday last week, thousands of people took to the Internet and to the streets to challenge the way the fashion industry works.
24th April 2015 marked two years since 1,133 people died in the Rana Plaza catastrophe in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Fashion Revolution Day was launched to keep the most vulnerable in the supply chain in the public eye and to make sure a tragedy like Rana Plaza never happens again.
By asking consumers, designers, brands, and all those who care to ask a simple question “Who Made My Clothes?” Fashion Revolution aims to change the narrative around clothing and to inspire a permanent and positive change in the fashion industry.
If last week’s events showed us anything, it’s that this revolution has been sparked. There were over 1,000 blogposts and articles written about Fashion Revolution Day circulating the internet in April – from CNN, Forbes, and Entrepreneur to Elle, Vogue and Glamour. The media reach was staggering, figures show that Fashion Revolution content was viewed over 14 billion times. In digital marketing land, this reach would equate to a cost of at least $60 million. Fashion Revolution reached millions of people without a single dollar. Clearly, the world wants to know that what they wear has not been made at the expense of the people who made it.
Read more here.
Words: Susanna Lau aka Susie Buble
Photo: Rachel Manns
Source: Style Bubble 17 April 2015
There’s a hypocrisy in my wardrobe and in the very nature of what I do for a living that is sometimes difficult to reconcile, when wanting to contribute to Fashion Revolution Day, the ongoing movement that commemorates what happened at Rana Plaza two years ago. On the one hand, I imagine a utopia where every fashion brand from high street to high end will have entirely transparent, accountable and fairly waged supply chains, where the negative impact on environment is fully calculated and minimised where possible. I imagine governments passing legislation in all countries involved so that workers are fully protected. I imagine a majority collective consumer base that is also conscious of their decisions, demanding better of what they buy.
These aren’t unattainable goals especially in a year where discussions about new EU rules on traceability and transparency in the textiles and clothing sector are being held at the European Commission and being put forward to the agenda for the G7 summit in June. The right conversations are being had and change is afoot even if for the most part, it isn’t the brands that are instigating it. Although H&M’s latest Sustainability report with its goals for 2nd tier transparency and renewable energy sources is an encouraging sign.
Read the full article here.
Source: Fashion Revolution 23 April 2015
Words: Bertie Brandes
Source: i-d vice 17 April 2015
...maybe our nostalgia for the more aggressive, tribal and political fashion of previous generations can help us figure out how best to wield it's potential power in the future. Between the 1960's and 1990's fashion tribes represented an allegiance to a wider political or social affinity regardless of whether the wearer wanted to or not. Punk was a rooted in anarchist social politics, rave was a rejection of the Tories bullshit meritocracy and grunge embraced ideas of sustainability and equality. These are all movements which, while we shouldn't rehash aesthetically (god save us all) we could reference more honestly than simply superficially fetishising and re-creating them. Worlds away from the hideously uncool braying of two-party politics comes an opportunity to use fashion as a new way of building communities which, in the words of Meadham Kirchhoff, aren't afraid to "reject everything". Instead of exclusive or expensive it becomes about a badge, a zine, a beret patch; fashion becomes all about the power of symbols and nothing to do with the status of an it bag...
Read the full article here
Through geography and family ties, many Chinese consumers can easily relate to the ethical issues in the garment manufacturing industry.
Fashion brands are increasingly aware of the spending power of the Chinese consumer yet China is still the leading exporter in the global garment industry, with statistics showing more than 10 million people employed by the country’s garment manufacturers. Imagine the number of family members and friends affected by the stories these 10 million people bring home about their working conditions.
Could the Chinese consumer hold the key to progressing the sustainable fashion agenda?
Read more in Marianne Caroline's fascinating blog post here.
Words: Rich McEachran
Source: The Guardian 3rd March 2015
Banana, pineapple and coconut don’t just belong in the fridge, they’re making their way into fashion now too...
Around a billion tonnes of banana plant stems are wasted each year, despite research indicating that it would only take 37kg of stems to produce a kilogram of fibre. In 2012, the Philippine Textile Research Institute concluded that banana plantations in the Philippines alone can generate over 300,000 tonnes of fibre.
The fabric is claimed to be nearly carbon neutral and its soft texture has been likened to hemp and bamboo.
Read the full article here