24 April, 2015

Beyond the hashtag

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by Victoria Waugh, Account Manager, photos by Anna Galandzij, Press Officer, at Fairtrade Foundation

Do you know where the T’shirt you are wearing was made?  How about your favourite pair of jeans?  Do you know who cut out the fabric and stitched them together?  It’s funny to think that the clothes that fill our wardrobes, that keep us warm and help define our identity are all carefully made by people we’ll never know.  Every seam, every zip, every sequin and button was sewn on by someone – those people, the invisible ones, hidden away across supply chains all over the world, whose livelihoods depend on growing cotton, weaving cloth and sewing it into garments for us to wear.

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Today, 24 April, marks the 2nd anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. A factory collapse in Dhaka that took the lives of 1133 people, and injured over 2500 more, who were making clothes for some of the UK’s biggest high street retailers. The incident, one of many social and environmental travesties in the clothing supply chains, caught the attention of the news headlines and for a while we were all reminded about the faces behind our clothing and even boycotted some of the retailers involved.

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Yet despite devastating events like Rana Plaza, sales of ethical clothing fell between 2012 and 2013 and the number of us boycotting stores fell.  This is in contrast to a rise in the overall value of ‘ethical spending’ (up 9% in 2013), which suggests that whilst we are thinking about how we spend our money, we don’t seem to consider ethics when buying clothing. Why are we concerned about where our food comes from or how green our car is but not who made our clothing?

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We here at the Fairtrade Foundation are supporting the Fashion Revolution movement – it’s about time we make a change and end the poverty and exploitation that people who make our clothes are facing.

Next time you go shopping or buy clothing online why not ask your favourite brand or retailer for information on where their products are made?  Is their cotton Fairtrade?  How do they know their workers are paid properly and work in a safe environment? 

Why not start now.  Today is Fashion Revolution day - be part of the global change - take a selfie showing the brand label in your favourite clothing. You could turn your clothes inside out to make more of a statement. Tag the brand that made them and ask #whomademyclothes?.

Let’s use our buying power to get our favourite brands and retailers to do the right thing.  Together we will use the power of fashion to inspire change and reconnect the broken links in the supply chain.

The photos were taken at Rana Plaza 2 Years On – Long Road to Justice Walking Tour, 23.04.2015, London. For more information, visit www.fashionrevolution.org

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