Photo taken by my Father-in-law (what a sport)

WHO MADE MY CLOTHES? Is a question that is constantly apart of my relationship with fashion. Unless it is vintage or second-hand (although, I refuse to buy Primark and other such brands first or second-hand), any new items of clothing, shoes, jewellery, or beauty product must go through the rigour of my fair, ethical, sustainable standards. As a result, Christmas and Birthdays involve specially curated lists to my family (who made this requirement). In a way, I am grateful that they ask this of me, as it not only means I get new gear that I actually want, but I also inspire them to shop in the very stores ("I had so much fun shopping for you" were my sister-in-law's exact words). In saying this, when Fashion Revolution posed the question above it was natural that I addressed the issue further.

FASHION REVOLUTION rose from the rubble of the Rana Plaza tragedy when, on 24th April 2013, the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh killing 1,1,34 people and injuring over 2,500. The tragedy highlighted one of the major issues within the fashion industry, where underpaid workers are frequently cramped in deplorable working conditions. Unfortunately, it took such a devastating tragedy to draw the world's attention to it, but whether the world took on board the lessons we should have learnt from it is still yet to be seen. With reports of forced confinement in garment factories and factories ablaze (one in India just burnt down last week, and in February a jumper/sweater shop also perished), it is hard to see how fashion has progressed since then.

Fashion Revolution believes that "fashion can be made in a safe, clean and beautiful way. Where creativity, quality, environment, and people are valued equally." In order to achieve this, they have asked brands to show #whomadeourclothes, and us to keep on asking brands #whomademyclothes. As consumers we have the power to hold brands accountable and ask them to be transparent in their practices. In many cases, brands are unaware of who makes their clothes and in what conditions they are doing so. Surely, there is something wrong with that picture. I guess because I work in international development and mining (from an accountability side), #transparency is fundamental to ensuring the sustainability and success of any project, not to mention that the human element to both areas are met with just and ethical practices. 

So why have we not done this before? Why have we not exercised our superpowers in fashion accountability? Does the answer lie in the fact that most of us are not aware of these superpowers? Or perhaps most of us just never knew of the effects poor supply chains have on workers? Or advocating for fair fashion was perceived as something reserved for the rich? Or maybe it just wasn't appealing to do so ? Whatever the reason, Fashion Revolution might have started to crack the nut.

With a campaign that merges marketing savvy [heck, anything with a #__ is bordering genius in today's marketing] with a strong message, it is no wonder why so many people who previously never asked the question of #whomademyclothes are jumping on board to show off their labels on their instagrams. An absolutely brilliant concept, as it forces us to really think about the faces behind the materials, and whether those faces that peer back at us are mirrored images of those who lost their lives in Dhaka. This is why Fashion Revolution Week occurs between 18-24th April, with its end date marks the anniversary of Rana Plaza.

Since Rana Plaza more and more brands are slowly working towards stepping up to the plate. Brands such as H&M and Nike are now investing in sustainability projects and reports, whereas Primark (one of the brands whose clothes were made at Rana Plaza) has signed up to The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. However, once the fashion business model is driven by fast turnovers, fast manufacturing and high margins, it hinders the good that such actions could do. I mean, Americans buy five times more clothing than they did in the 1980s, and about 10.5 million tonnes of clothing in the US alone ends up in landfills. That's crazy talk for us sane people.

Despite all of this Fashion Revolution, like many ethical movements, will be a slow one--slow fashion, slow movement--and the only way to speed that up is if we all did our part. By holding up your signs and asking "WHO MADE MY CLOTHES?" is one of many steps closer to fair, just and safe world.

My jacket was bought from one of my favourite Vintage Stores in the US some 6+ years ago, and after scouring the internet trying to find out more about the brand, the only leads have been on eBay, where jackets carrying the same brand are going for dirt cheap. Fair enough most of them are not to my taste, but it does make me wonder who really made this jacket, even if I bought it preloved.

So have you asked who has made your clothes lately?

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  1. I am only now discovering your blog, and I am enjoying it immensely. I am loving this post. It is so good to think about the people behind the clothes we wear. I must admit that I often shop in Primark, but this blog is making me think twice about my shopping habits. Keep up the good work

  2. We all know most clothes are made in the best country in the world - Pakistan!