“We love fashion, but we don’t want our clothes to come at the cost of people or our planet.” This is the first quote you see on the Fashion Revolution site and it was the Rana Plaza disaster that occurred on 24th April 2013 in Bangladesh, which gave birth to Fashion Revolution and the question “Who Made My Clothes?” This was the day, my values shifted more towards a more ethical and environmental existence.
I have always bought things from op-shops, donated clothing and other things to charity, made my own clothes and kept my wardrobe to a minimum. Whilst working at KingGee we were very conscious about signing the Code of Practice about how we sourced and manufactured items, in Australia and offshore, so this was very much part of my consciousness.
But this day really stopped me in my tracks. Particularly because, amongst the labels that were floating in the detritus was the new Mix label from Coles. I had bought quite a few items from their new collection and was horrified to think that my clothes were being made by a woman who was forced to work 12 hour long days whilst being locked inside with hardly any breaks and being paid so little it wasn’t enough to live on.
So when I did begin this business helping women express themselves stylishly, being ethical and sustainable was an essential part of the package. Information back then was not easy to access but now there are some great apps, websites and podcasts that can educate you before you head to the shops to dress yourself.
- Download the Good on You app as their “one purpose: to create a world where people’s shopping choices drive businesses to be sustainable and fair.” So have it on your phone to check up on brands before you buy.
- Get the Ethical Fashion Guide from Baptist World Aid (Australia) organisation: “This guide grades 407 brands and provides an overall grade of each brand’s labour rights management systems. Higher grades correspond to systems which, when implemented well, should reduce the risk of modern slavery, child labour and exploitation. Grades are derived from research undertaken for the 2018 Ethical Fashion Report.” So this relates only to the labour of making your dress, jacket etc… not necessarily the environmental impact on the planet or the ethics of the actual business overall.
- Watch The True Cost movie. This “is a groundbreaking documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?”
- Listen to the Wardrobe Crisis podcast where Clare Press interviews interesting people involved in the fashion industry, who are actively taking steps towards creating a more sustainable fashion future. I am addicted to listening to these podcasts during my journeys across Brisbane for school drop-offs and pick-ups or sitting in traffic watching the sky pass by!
If you want to go deeper into the ins and outs of sustainable fashion I recommend the following:
- Read the book Wardrobe Crisis, How we went from Sunday Best to Fast Fashion by Clare Press I met the lovely Clare at the launch of this book at Avid Reader in West End back in 2016. It is a great read, lots of information written in a style easy to read and with passion.
- Keep up-to-date by getting information from the Ethical Fashion Forum.
- Have a look at Jane Milburn’s site Textile Beat to inform yourself about textiles and upcycling.
Lastly check out the Fashion Revolution site to find out how you can get involved this week. If you are in Brisbane, come along to the Fashion Revolution event at Avid Kitchen + Garden (inside Avid Reader) next Sunday hosted by Cate Gilpin of Brown’s General Store, It’s free but make sure you rsvp to ensure a place.
This week be a fashion revolutionary by wearing your clothes inside out, taking a selfie (get the downloadable from Fashion Revolution) asking “Who made my clothes?”, post onto your social network with the #fashionrevolution, so the message goes global and our favourite brands listen.
Enjoy your week.