Fashion Revolution Week

Thinking about who made my clothes for Fashion Revolution Week.

For most consumers buying clothes is about choice…

 What style suits me best? Which colour do I prefer? What is it made of? Which size is most flattering? How much will it cost?

 We ask ourselves any number of stylistic questions before arriving at a decision. But the question that is so often forgotten is who made it? Most of the time we don’t stop to ask what life is like for the 75 million people in the global apparel market or how much they are paid.

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This matters because as consumers we hold the power. Every purchase we make says something about what we value. Fashion Revolution week is about raising awareness and empowering individuals to change the way fashion works. By asking brands ‘Who made my clothes?’ we are part of a global movement demanding greater transparency in the fashion supply chain. This is an essential step for improving the lives of people across the fashion landscape, from cotton farmers to garment workers.

 What you can do…

  •  Pressure your favourite brands

Hold them to account for the social and environmental impact of their business. Share the label of a piece of clothing on social media and ask the brand #whomademyclothes?

  • Write to a Politician

Let them know the welfare of the planet and the people making your clothes matters to you.

  • Buy better

Choose fair-trade or second-hand where you can – even if this means buying something more expensive less often.

  • Repair, reinvent, revive

Instead of buying new, try updating something you already own.

Find out more here.

Putting Plans into Action, Edventure Week 3

Business strategy and user research in Week 3 of Edventure Frome’s Start-Up Repair Course.

Making money and making a difference

We began the week with business planning. Johannes and Adam introduced us to three different social enterprise models;

 

EXTERNAL

External: When business and social activities are separate. The business may or may not be related to the social enterprise.

integratedIntegrated: When a business is created as a funding mechanism to expand and enhance a social mission.

embedded1.jpgEmbedded: When a business and social programme are one and the same, i.e. the business was created for a social purpose.

Johannes also presented ‘The Ladder of Social Engagement’, a way of visualising the interest of your target audience.

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Van perfectly summed up the first thought-filled day with the following poem;

Monday

Sunshine beams goals we dream

Tantalizing future visions

Fixing ourselves, through expressive creation

Conversations and well informed talking

Form restless and sleepsome minds

Seeking the clarity of whatever we can achieve

Potential

Harmonious, Contemplative, Potential.

By Van Wajsblum

 

Meeting Gavin Eddy

Gavin is a local entrepreneur who has launched many successful businesses including Forward Space (a series of creative ‘workhubs’ for entrepreneurs) and the Frome Independent Market. We met him on Tuesday to discuss ideas at Forward Space, Frome. It was great to get feedback from someone with such a wealth of local experience and ‘Start-Up’ expertise. He advised us to clearly define our target audience and to consider ways of maintaining interest in our project long-term.

Speaking with Ugo Vallauri

Ugo is the co-founder of The Restart Project, a London-based social enterprise that encourages and empowers people to use their electronics for longer in order to reduce waste. Ugo kindly agreed to discuss the Restart model and our project ambitions with me over the phone. He explained how ‘Restart Parties’ (community based, free electronic repair sessions) reduce the barriers to learning and help people recognise the value in repair. During the conversation he gave me many insights into running successful repair events. He also mentioned the importance of recreating trustworthy relationships with existing repair providers. Read more about Restart’s research on the matter here.

Talking to the public

Throughout the week we developed a questionnaire to ascertain what kind of repair service people would most benefit from. You can read our full questionnaire here and if you are from the local area please take a moment to fill it out. Your input is much appreciated!

Presenting pitch 2

Informed by the week’s findings we presented a preliminary business plan to the Edventure team on Thursday.

Our mission is to launch a socially inclusive workshop space together with an online platform/mobile app focusing on ethical repair. By empowering people through creative skill-shares, we hope to strengthen social bonds, increase practical skills and reduce the amount of perfectly reusable household waste.

Guided by the initial response to our questionnaire we aim to concentrate on 3 avenues;

  • Regular affordable, themed fixing sessions.
  • Weekly, reasonably priced workshop-based classes.
  • An online directory to connect professional and amateur fixers, makers and doers.

Something to take away…

A poem from Van written on Tuesday when it was his turn to make lunch for us all.

The Sushi Situation

Best laid plans mislead big dreams

Unexpected time frames

Not bad for a first try

Saved by an angel and enjoyed by All

Earlier formation of pitch perfect questions

An air of arrival at what we can be

Morning information from a man

With proven know how

Big ideas on a small scale

We must know who they are

The providers, users and sustainers

Of our world

Cater, nurture and help them succeed.

By Van Wajsblum

Fashion ethics, a Feminist issue

A reflection on the responsibility of consumers to uphold women’s rights in the fashion industry

The subject of fashion in relation to feminism has been heavily debated throughout the 21st century. Many have fought against the stifling and oppressive elements of the socially constructed notion of fashion while others have embraced its empowering qualities as a means self-expression. The question of whether ‘the woman of fashion’, as Simone De Beauvoir puts it, has ‘chosen to make herself a thing’, an object to be admired or has liberated herself through her creative choices occupies much of the feminist literature surrounding fashion. Many feminists actively protest against the unattainable beauty ideals set by fashion magazines as well as the lack of diversity in the shape, size, age and creed of models in mainstream media. In recent years movements such as the ‘Slut Walk’ in Europe and North America has sought to empower women through their choice of clothing and remove the stigma associated with dressing ‘provocatively’. While many feminists are vocal about the sexism inherent within the consumption of fashion, the issues behind the production of fashion remain largely unexplored.

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Illustration: Abigail Garbett

Action Aid’s study ‘The Cost of Inequality in Women’s Work’ shows that at least 80% of all garment workers in developing countries are women. They are employed with no basic labour rights, often in dangerous conditions and at risk of violence or sexual abuse. Female garment workers will, on average, earn 10% to 30% less than men for the same job. Despite this, women are also responsible for a disproportionate share of unpaid domestic duties including child rearing, caring for the elderly, tending the home and feeding their families. A distinct lack of solidarity becomes apparent in light of the fact that, according to Forbes, women in rich nations also make up 85% of all consumer purchases.

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Image source: The Independant

In 2014, Whistles collaborated with The Fawcett Society, a charity for women’s rights to create T-shirt’s bearing the slogan ‘This is What A Feminist Looks Like’. While initially successful, the revelation that the T-shirt’s were made by women earning just 62p an hour scandalised the venture. ‘Commodity Feminism’ is a term used by Laura Harvey (lecturer from the University of Surrey) to describe the way in which the language and aspirations of feminism are being used by big corporations in an attempt to sell goods. By turning feminism into a commodity, the movement risks loosing its political power and becoming a ‘trend’ rather than a vehicle for social activism.

While the popularisation of Feminism through slogan t-shirts and merchandise highlight a positive shift towards mainstream acceptance, an understanding of the workings of the global chain of goods and it’s implications cannot be understated. Not only does the fashion industry rely on women to produce clothing, retailers also employ a female majority and target women as the main consumers of fashion. While men still dominate positions of power within the industry, women occupy the majority of junior positions and are most vulnerable to exploitation and low pay.

Any company outsourcing production to developing countries such as Bangladesh is likely to encounter some form of exploitation. Rather than create specific boycotts, consumers are advised by Bangladesh’s National Garment Workers Federation to lobby brands to take responsibility for their supply chain and offer greater transparency. The garment production industry is the largest employer of women in Bangladesh and many parts of Asia and as such is an essential part of the economy. In her article Primark ‘cry for help’ labels have painted Bangladeshi women as helpless’ Tansy Hoskins suggests that instead of viewing these women as ‘passive and in need of saving by western people’, it is important that we empower them through support of trade unions and active conversations with the brands we admire.

Hoskins sites Lilla Watson of the Aboriginal Activists Group, Queensland, 1970, “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you’ve come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” It is essential not to shy away from our responsibility as part of a global elite to take into account suffering on a global level. The Women’s March protests, which recently swept across much of the world including North America, Europe, Mexico and Australia was the largest single demonstration in US history. Events such as these illustrate our collective power. Feminism cannot focus only on a certain society, or group if it truly wishes to stand for women’s rights.

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Design: Abigail Garbett Model: Freya Tate