Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Fashion Revolution Day



Like many people, part of the reason I choose to make my own clothing is because fast fashion leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It just feels wrong to wear something against my skin when I don't know who made it, I don't know how much they were paid to make it, or whether they were treated fairly and humanely in the process. Of course I do still occasionally buy clothes from the shops, and when I do, I feel guilty about it. Wouldn't it be great if there were more transparency about the origins of our clothing, and if more fashion brands took ethical clothing production seriously?

On 24th April 2013, 1,133 garment workers were killed when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Bangladesh. On 24th April 2014, the inaugural Fashion Revolution Day is asking us draw attention to the uncertain - and potentially unethical - origins of our clothing. How? By wearing an item of clothing inside out, taking a photo, and contacting the brand where it was from - on Twitter, Instagram or otherwise - to ask "Who made my clothes?", using the hashtags #insideout and #FashionRevolutionDay. I think this is such a brilliant way of getting people involved and letting the fashion industry know that we care about where our clothes come from.

Maybe there's more we can to contribute to Fashion Revolution Day as makers. Perhaps we can all make a concerted effort to encourage more people to learn to make their own clothes, in order to foster understanding of the work involved in the production process (it takes aaaages to make a dress, why oh why does it cost £10 from Primark??), to slow down our collective fashion consumption, and encourage everyone to treasure what's already in their wardrobe.

You in?

Photo credits: Photographer: Keiron O'Connor / Model: Sienna Somers, Profile / Denim Dress: Komodo / Stylist: Stevie Westgarth / Make-up: Jo Frost / Hair: Eliot Bsilla

32 comments:

  1. Great initiative, Tilly, and I can't agree more. I wish people understood more about the time and effort it takes to make clothes. But it's a labor of love because what you make is completely you, and has a part of your heart in it.

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  2. This is such a good idea! It's so easy just to go along with everyone else and buy things because they are cheap, without thinking of the consequences.

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  3. Yeah it is a great initiative, and so important to spread the message about the realities of the garment industry.
    I wrote about this topic recently here: http://belgianseams.blogspot.be/2014/03/stitching-and-social-justice.html

    And there is a great idea from bloggers Laura (http://behind-the-hedgerow.com/), Abby (http://www.thingsforboys.com/), and Celina (http://www.petitapetitandfamily.com/) to wear handmade clothes inside out as a way of marking Fashion Revolution Day!

    You can read more here: http://behind-the-hedgerow.com/2014/03/24/fashion-revolution-day-handmade-insideout/

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    1. Thanks for sharing those links, Emily.

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  4. I love this idea. Last year I listened to the Money Planet podcast t shirt project. I highly recommend it. They followed the process from making cotton to construction to shipping. Talking to many of the people involved. I will never look at a t shirt the same again.

    http://www.npr.org/series/248799434/planet-moneys-t-shirt-project

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    1. That sounds interesting - I'll have a listen...

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  5. Thanks for sharing this initiative! You might also be interested to know (if you don't already) about the 6 Item Challenge which has been run by the UK based charity Labour Behind the Label for a number of years:

    http://www.labourbehindthelabel.org/jobs/item/1025-sixitemschallenge#

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    1. Oh great - thanks for sharing that.

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  6. The dress costs 10£ at Primark because it is not one of a kind. The materials were purchased in bulk, the dress was cut in bulk, and most likely they sewed over 1000 dresses alike. And most likely it was sewen somewhere where you don't know.
    As a worker in sewing industry I would most likely be out of work if everyone started making their own clothes.
    But i also do not approve of using workers almost as slave labor forcing them to work for pennies in unsafe work environment.

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    1. Definitely. I doubt the maker revolution will grow so much as to put you out of a job, but raising awareness of where our clothes come from and asking questions about how they were produced is so important.

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    2. Also commercial sewing machines move at a speed that makes home machines look like a toddler toy - my Dad used to be a sewing machine mechanic, back when clothes were made locally here, and the machines he worked on ran at 7000 rpm. The women would pretty much zip through things faster than I could follow the process. it was impressive.

      If there was transparency in where every thing was manufactured and the conditions and wages were known, at least you could decide for yourself if that $10 dress is something you could stomach. But that's pretty much your point anyway.

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  7. Learning to make my own clothes has been such an enlightening experience for me. It sounds a bit dramatic but I would go as far to say that it's revolutionised my thinking and made me more conscious and appreciative of the process involved in making the things I use/eat/drink/come in to contact with on a daily basis.

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    1. That's exactly how I feel too - dramatic, yes, but true!

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  8. What a really good idea! Might get the odd look if a label is sticking out but what a fab way of drawing attention to such an important cause.

    The experience I'm having with a current dress is that it takes a helluva long time to make - and something knocked out for a tenner doesn't match the time, effort and materials that have gone into making that garment!

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  9. I've shared this on my FB. I think the problem is people don't think how their clothes are made, just how much of a bargain they can get. I get quite a few blank stares when others learn I have made my own clothes 'why? you can get it in NewLook/Primark/Topshop' etc etc. No I can't. I can choose my buttons, thread, fabric, etc etc. and feel a bigger buzz than I ever do in the shops!
    Food and drink have fairtrade labels, cosmetics have cruelty free. Why should clothing be different?

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  10. What an excellent idea! Yes, I'm in!

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  11. I like this - treasure what is in your wardrobe and appreciate what goes into your clothes.
    I think it is too much of a challenge to go into who is making these mass-produced clothes because it's hard when we are not in a third world country and that is our income, but changing the way we view things is the best start!

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  12. I think this is an important initiative, but I have often wondered about the people working in the fabric mills. How are conditions for them? I don' even know where my fabric comes from. We are still consuming even if we sew our own clothes, but I think I prefer it over the RTW consumption which is hard to have a "relationship" with.

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    1. I couldn't agree more. It would be so great to know more about how the fabric we used was produced too. Understanding how clothes are made is a huge positive step; understanding where the materials come from would be a natural next step. I've written a few blog posts on ethical fabric in the past, and would love to do more.

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  13. it's definitely a good idea and is helping to make people more aware of how and where their clothes are being made.
    Although as sewers I feel that we need to ask where our fabric comes from to?
    unless your buying organic/ethical fabric or know exactly where it was manufactured, chances are the fabric we buy come from same factory (powerlooms) that supplies the fabric for 'fast fashion'! These factory's have same horrendous if not even more dangerous conditions as the sewing ones with extreme high temperatures and for very little pay also.
    I don't want to sound down beat as it's certainly a step in the right direction, but we can't be so naive about fabric manufacturing either x

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    1. Totally - you're right. See above!

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  14. I think one thing we can all do every time is ask at the counter - 'how do you know the workers who made this garment are being fairly treated', because if enough of us start asking and stop purchasing then the message will go up the chain. Yes, the sales assistant probably might not know, or the manager but they will be able to say - our customers are asking. I didn't buy shoes the other day because the sales assistant couldn't answer but I went home and emailed the company to ask them. We have to make our voices heard with our purchasing choices. Love this idea too

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  15. I love the idea of drawing attention to where and how clothes are made, and it's even better if makers get involved and show people that they can be part of the solution by making some of their own!

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  16. I am 100% in. This is one of the reasons I started sewing my own clothes, too! Thanks for sharing :)

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  17. I am totally in! I completely agree with all your points, which I've made my points some time ago. After many years of making all my clothes, I really have enough of them to wear a really varied wardrobre, so the only thing I buy is jeans. And I feel guilty too, becasue I like stressed jeans, and it is hard for me to accept the working conditions of the workers that made them.

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  18. Sewing our own clothes gives us an independence that most people don't have. We don't have to let the big retailers dictate what we wear and we know our self-made clothes have not caused nearly as much hardship as something made in Bangladesh. Of course there is the matter of where the fabric comes from. Most of the fabric I purchase are industry remnants. I make my clothes out of fabric that would otherwise have gone to waste, so I'm not encouraging the production of even more... Buying ethical fabrics is of course the best solution, but it's much more costly.

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  19. This is a great idea! It is an issue that definitely needs raising more, as fashion and what we wear should be so much more than just its style, but what went into making it! Your blog alone is brilliant for inspiration with this!
    www.beccyandbuttonthecat.blogspot.com

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  20. We recently went over this at university (I'm doing my foundation degree at Bishop Burton College) and now I daren't buy clothes. I didn't before, but that was because I wanted to make them all and I had the time to do it. Now I simply daren't buy anything that I can make (textile-wise), and even if I can't make it and have to buy it I feel guilty. My tutor told me that there was actually a factory where the manager was a seven year old girl! It's crazy!

    The first "make" project I did for university made me quite aware that £50 for a jacket is _not_ expensive. The time it takes to make and fit the pattern, correct it, true the seam allowances, draft the lining, toile the garment, then make the marker, source the fabrics (as ethically as possible) and then sew the garment and make sure that the intersecting seams match up exactly (a lot of unpicking was required at some points) is worth _a lot_ more than £50. But only very wealthy people can afford to buy things for what they're worth, even when the garments are mass-produced. : ) In good factories there is also the expense of tax, insurance, rates, utility bills, legal costs, and untold others.

    There is also no satisfaction in buying clothes. I feels "soulless", if you know what I mean. Up until now, all my me-made clothes were basically wearable (quite unstylish) toiles, and many have shrunk until they're pretty unwearable toiles because I didn't preshrink the fabric enough. Now though, I am learning to design collections and put together "looks". I'm very gradually remaking my wardrobe as economically and ethically as possible and practical. It will take time, but I think I'll start with basic pieces. But I digress. : )

    I wish fabric stores (online and visitable) were transparent in the sources of the fabrics. Does anyone know any ethical fabric stores?

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    1. Try offset warehouse.com they have a good selection of all types of fabrics.

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  21. This is such an important issue! I take a weaselly way out of this quandary most of the time by buying secondhand, which I recently wrote about here: http://bonmarchecouture.blogspot.com/2014/04/my-thrift-manifesto.html Since I started thinking more about these issues, relying on secondhand clothes has made it easier for me to resist "fast fashion" that I have ethical concerns about.

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  22. Thank you!! More people need to be more considerate about the issues surround crap fashion. And I appreciate you saying that you still cave and buy from unknown fashion origins...I do too but it's happening less and less as I get more staunch in my views. I now pay more for clothes that are domestically-made or morally-acceptable, then supplement with thrift and my own handmade. Cheers to like-minded people!!

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  23. I totally agree with you Tilly. This is one of the main reasons I started sewing my own clothing. I'm getting better at it. I prefer not to depend on the going to the mall for clothing and I would love to have a 100% handmade wardrobe!

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