Textile production around the world has always been a complex issue, one that often sits in the back of the minds of many consumers. On 24 April 2013 however, the garment industry was brought to the centre of our attention when 1133 people were killed and approximately 2500 injured during the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Dhakla, Bangladesh.
Suddenly clothing companies were in the spotlight. Which companies were exposing their workers to such unsafe conditions? Why are producers and consumers allowing this to happen? These were questions that few could answer. According to the Australian Fashion Report in 2013, a shocking 61% of companies surveyed did not know where their garments were made. The harsh reality is, not many people know where the clothing they are wearing came from and certainly no one has a valid response as to why we allow this to happen. We are all aware, on some level, that some of our clothing is made in Bangladesh, maybe China or even Italy, but when we see affordable price tags on high end inspired pieces we often forget the cost of our cheap yet, stylish wardrobe.
One year on from the tragedy in Bangladesh the vital industry has seen improvements. Companies like Cotton On and Topshop have signed the ‘Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh’, which now means the factories used by these companies go under safety inspections and renovations. It also encourages the support of health, safety and wellbeing. However, there is still a long way to go and Fashion Revolution are not ready to let the issue lie.
Today Fashion Revolution are encouraging everyone to turn their clothes inside out and to ask the forgotten question, who made your clothes?
Like many, I own clothing from companies like Topshop and ASOS and although I try, I am guilty of not checking the label or researching a company before I buy. So today, on Fashion Revolution Day I asked myself two questions.
Who made my clothes? Well, the label reads Sportsgirl, which is owned by the Sussan Group, an Australian company that have their garments made in China. Sportsgirl have signed the Homeworkers Code of Practice for Retailers, which seeks to promote and protect the rights of outworkers. They also are in agreement with their agents that they acquire products from properly regulated factories which comply with the laws of China.
What am I going to do about it? This year I made a promise to buy less and so far I’ve kept this promise. Buying less has forced me to think about my purchases in more detail. I only look at items that I know will remain in my wardrobe for years to come (one of the saddest parts of the textile industry is that many pieces end up as waste not long after purchase). I can also do my best to raise awareness, which is one of the messages behind this blog. Future outfit posts and brand features will be influenced by ethical fashion.
Even if there is no way you can wander around the office with your shirt on inside out, as you get changed tonight just look at the label, think about where you clothing has come from, who made it and what you can do about it.
Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere is paying for it.
Learn more about Fashion Revolution at http://www.fashionrevolution.org/. Like Fashion Revolution on Facebook at facebook.com/fashionrevolution.org and follow @Fash_Rev on Twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget to search the hastag #insideout to keep up to date with the efforts today.
Photos by the lovely Shehan.