Today, April 24th 2014, I’m wearing my clothes #inside out for the very first Fashion Revolution Day. Have you heard of it? It’s an amazing awareness campaign started in the wake of the Rana Plaza building collapse exactly one year ago where 1133 Bangladesh textile workers tragically lost their lives and another 2500 were injured. The story is one of pure neglect and greed on the part of the corrupt building/business owner and a pathetic lack of responsibility from big name clothing brands.
The idea of this campaign is to get people asking the question – “Who Made Your Clothes?”
(Find the answer to who made my clothes later in this post)
The reality of the clothing manufacturing industry is that much of the time, we as consumers can’t answer that question. The most disturbing part however, is that many of the companies and brands who sell our clothes can’t answer it either. Some companies are reported to not even visit the factories that make their clothes!
I only recently brought myself to watch the Four Corners documentary “Fashion Victims” aired last year on the ABC. In hindsight I can say I was probably being a bit ignorant to not watch it sooner – I knew it would make me feel guilty for buying those $3 tshirts! In fact, rather than making me feel bad, I now feel much more knowledgeable and empowered to discuss this issue with you and my friends and family. If you haven’t seen it already, I really recommend you do.
So many of the big clothing brands have turned a blind eye to the human rights abuses that take place in textile houses every day. They aren’t all bad, but many are. Some don’t allow their workers to join a union, they physically and verbally abuse workers, not to mention subjecting them to extremely long hours and minimal pay.
Companies need to be made aware that consumers CARE where their clothes come from and that most of us are more than happy to pay a little bit more knowing that they have been made under ethical conditions. Or better yet, they could even consider reducing their exorbitant profit margin to allow for this.
The answer is not to stop buying clothes. This would only leave the textile workers without a job. What we want is to ensure the clothes we buy have been manufactured under ethical conditions and tell companies that’s what we want.
Now is the time for a major industry revolution. I believe the clothing manufacturing industry needs to provide easily accessible information to allow consumers to make more informed decisions about their purchases and provide transparency about “Who Made My Clothes”.
So, what can we do about it?
I recently came across this fabulous website, Shop Ethical. You can easily check out some of the bigger clothing brands found in Australia and see the rating they’ve been assigned based on various criteria. Here is the page on Children’s wear and the one for Women’s Fashion. There are many others to browse if you like.
Now, to answer the question “Who Made My Clothes?”
Well, for my top – that’s easy – me! This was one of my earliest knit projects, so don’t look too closely!!
The jeans I’m wearing are JeansWest brand. A bit of digging on their website revealed a blurb about their owner (Glorious Sun)’s manufacturing policy and surprisingly it didn’t look too bad. I also checked them out on the Shop Ethical website and they were rated “no praises, no criticisms”, so again, not too bad. Shop Ethical also mentioned they were signatories to the National Retailers Ethical Clothing Code. I was pretty satisfied with this result and will happily continue to buy from them.
You can help spread the message by doing the same and posting a photo of yourself with the hashtag #insideout on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever social media you like to use.
Thanks so much for reading!