Ok so from a humanitarian standpoint and an ecological one the fashion industry is failing. From a purely profit driven individual share holder point of view it is not. But stretch it out to a wider economic view where growing the wealth of a few is not a very robust measure of success and well the clothing industry is actually looking pretty weak. Fast fashion in particular is a massive failure of morality, real economic prosperity and environmental stewardship. Fast Fashion you just got an F for “Fatal”.
So at this time of year, every year, a bunch of people and organisations, who would rather that the fashion industry (and human kind more generally) was not in a race for the bottom, come together to highlight that great big stinking F that fashion has. It is called Fashion Revolution week. A big aspect of this protest movement is to ask you to ask #whomademyclothes? In its simplest form this means stop and think about the people who work to make your clothes. Do you know if they are treated well, paid well, and not at risk of being buried under a collapsed building or suffering some other awful calamity while their foot is jammed hard on the sewing machine pedal whipping up some garment that will be worn 5 times and ends up in a plastic bag heading for Africa.
Ok you have thought about it and it does suck but it is kind of too hard right now
We know sometimes protest action just isn’t your thing. Sometimes doing things the harder way, the vocal way (or the go out of your way way) is just not where you are at. And sometimes as a friend of mine likes to say it is just not in your bag of things to give a shit about this week because you are too busy giving a shit about everything else that is wrong in the world. So to help with that we came up with a list of easy options for doing something without having to do too much when you do care about a failing fashion industry but just not so much right now.
Five Easy Fixes For People Who Do Give a Rat’s Bum But Are Just a Bit Tired/Busy/Overwhelmed
- Read a blog about how industry and global leaders need to pull finger and take more responsibility. We wrote one and even came up with an intervention model for all the different levels where change can happen in the textile industry and who needs to make a greater effort (hint it ain’t the consumer)
- Look at some pretty photos documenting how ethical garments are made, and consider yourself better informed about where clothes come from and all the hands they pass through before they get to you.
- Ask someone richer and far more influential than yourself buy and wear a few bits of ethical fashion to highlight the issue (it is the least they could do with all that power, cash and good intention surely?). We can think of some people, surely you can come up with a few others?
- Buy preloved ethical clothing to save your bank balance, the planet and people. muka kids market place is where you can buy and sell accredited preloved ethical sustainable clothing, or look on other online market places for labels you know to be ethical (we have a long list of adults and kids brands that pass muster here)
- Do less or even do nothing. For example stop buying new clothes for a few months, or don’t wear more than 1 or 2 different outfits to work (think of it as a sanity saver as well), or stop washing your clothes so often (stops them wearing out so fast and saves water too). All these ‘do nothing things’ are actually doing something.
And if after all this you find yourself in a better place to act on the fact that you do give a shit, then twitter, facebook and email the company that made your clothes big or small and ask them #whomademyclothes? Consumer power matters, because, to paraphrase one billionaire business owner, ultimately, whether a company continues growing and is sustainable is a function of the company’s customers’ ability and willingness to pay for the company’s products.
Jess Berentson-Shaw founded the social enterprise Muka kids’ to connect consumers, designers and garment workers across the world, and empower them to make the clothing industry a sustainable one. Muka kids has a marketplace to trade preloved organic, ethical & sustainable clothing. Through its partnerships with accredited brands it also helps make new sustainable clothing more affordable. Sales on the marketplace fund a micro finance scheme for women cotton farmers in India trying to pull themselves out of poverty.