So today is the day, blog action day and I decided to sign up to Ms Wanda’s human-friendly fashion blog challenge. I had been hoping to write about ethical sportswear but unfortunately most of the companies I have emailed haven’t responded yet, that gets to be another post then. So this is my blog post about the importance of human friendly fashion, I hope you enjoy it.
The Rana Plaza tragedy back in April of this year gave a horrific worldwide platform to something that has been happening for years. It brutally showed the true reason why fashion has been able to become so fast and so cheap for some. It displayed the cost of the new style of consumerism which is the lives of others and that where lives are not lost there is a world of terrible working conditions, little pay and no job security.
I suppose I fail to understand why we want our fashion to do this the lives of others.
Now I won’t pretend that I am perfect in my shopping habits, I am not yet satisfied with my wardrobe’s ethics but I have changed how I shop. From the slowing down of my fashion purchases to the focusing of how what I spend my money affects others. I am part of a sustainability challenge this year which has shone a spotlight on my own shopping habits and I have been trying to use my ‘coupons’ on items from ethical and local companies, trying to feel more of a connection to the items I am buying. After all someone made these items and considering my attempts at sewing I am very grateful that they do!
It comes down in the end to what we think a skilled worker creating a garment is worth. The more investigating that I do the more firmly I believe that somehow we have got our fashion focus wrong. Why are we buying so many new items that are never worn? Why are the ‘must-have’ tags that rile me everywhere I turn? Why ‘must’ we have it? And more telling why next week is it a different item we ‘must-have’? Behind all of these items is a person working to give us these items, we should have more respect for that.
I believe that when people talk of the ‘democratisation of fashion’ – that you can get a piece of fashion from the high street or supermarket incredibly similar to trends on the catwalks within weeks if not days of a show – they tend to forget about the production of a piece. When did we become so disconnected to the items we wear to help express ourselves? The democratisation of fashion only stretches so far it appears.
On a positive note though if you do want to enjoy fashion differently there has never been a better time. Between ethical companies and a flourishing second-hand/vintage sector you now have choices unavailable even a few years ago. I want to mention just a couple of ethical brands that I personally enjoy shopping with!
Based in the UK and with strong links to Japan is People Tree. A stalwart of fair trade fashion and of my wardrobe it is a company trying to turn our fashion model on its head while producing pieces that are stylish and covetable.
Another much smaller company I stumbled across while visiting one of my best mate’s in London. Tucked away in Greenwich there is a shop for Emma Nissim, initially I thought it was just lovely screen prints but delve a little deeper and you realise that the clothes are made ethically and printed in London. One of my favourite jerseys this one!
I wanted to mention Traid Remade as well, I have posted this picture of their leggings before for the Wartime Wardrobe Challenge but wanted to mention them again as they were not only lovely to deal with but make all their clothes from discarded fabric and I love that ethos.
Finally in my list of companies in today’s post is Rapanui. I cam across this company purely by chance and now I adore them. They are a relatively young company but with great sustainable policies, they have just launched a recycling initiative where you can send them your old Rapanui tshirts to be recycled. That is fantastic in my opinion, it is like full circle fashion – a company that does great pieces and advocates not buying everything then when you are done send it back to be recycled. I like this fashion model.
This isn’t even an exhaustive list of the companies I think do great pieces and help push the ethical clothing agenda, there are so many out there. So my challenge to others, before you buy your items from your usual stores why not try to find an ethical alternative? It isn’t difficult and often you can end up with a more unique item you will treasure even more.
Slow down fashion consumption (allowing for longer turn around times in factories), pay a little more (and ensure that the money goes to the involved people making the garment) and source from companies who are doing their bit. I prefer to shop away from the high street most of the time but there are bigger brands doing their bit to improve workers rights. (Lucy Siegle at the Guardian has done a great recent set of articles looking at some of the major brands whose clothing is produced in Bangladesh, have a read – interesting stuff).
In the end I think we have to all wonder if the item of clothing is worth what we are doing to others in order to have it that fast and at that price? Human friendly fashion folks, it is the way forward!