By Elena Picci

Who made my clothes?

Where does your t-shirt come from?
It should be written on the scratchy label inside (if you didn’t cut it out yet)
Do you ever wonder who made your clothes? at what cost?
The happiness of buying a piece of clothes, shouldn’t cost the life of the workers who made it. Basics of ethical and sustainable fashion.

Do you ever wonder who made your clothes?

Before reading this article, please take a moment and check where the t-shirt you are wearing has been made. It should be written on the scratchy label inside (if you didn’t cut it out yet).

It is likely that your t-shirt came from a country where garment workers are at risk, earning low wages and working in poor, unregulated conditions.

The joy of a new clothing item, should not come at the expense of the workers who made it.

Do you want to have more transparency when it comes to the people who make your clothes?

Get ready.

Fashion Revolution Week is coming.

Quality over quantity.

Fair wages.

Safe working conditions.

All this is possible, but it depends on us.

Image credit from left to right: Fashion Revolution; The Public Eye Awards (Picture of the Rana Plaza Tragedy)

Who are the garment workers behind our clothes?

Supply chain transparency is one of the pillars of a sustainable business.

#Before

In the fashion world, the tragic 2013 Rana Plaza collapse was a wakeup call for the entire industry.

The garment factory collapsed due to illegally constructed floors that were built to increase capacity.  Everything happened in only 90 seconds and 1,134 people lost their lives (The Guardian). The factory was a supplier for major western brands including Primak, Matalan, Benetton, Mango, Bonmarche (The Guardian).

The Rana Plaza tragedy shed light on the harsh realities of worker exploitation underpinning the global fashion industry.

Besides the terrible working conditions,  these garment workers have no hope for financial independence, as the basic salary in Bangladesh is $95 per month for 12 hours per day/ 7 days a week of work (Forbes).

#Right Now

Now that the majority of the world is in a state of lockdown, a humanitarian crisis is emerging in Bangladesh. The fate of 4.1 million garment workers rests in the hands of western fashion brands, who have reportedly canceled over $2.8 billion due to COVID-19. (Forbes)

Without work, how will these workers survive?

The most vulnerable people are the ones who will bear the most severe consequences of COVID-19.

Now that the fashion industry has come to a halt, the overproduction that has gone on for years is finally visible.

Do we really need 150bn items of clothing to be produced annually? (The Guardian)

If you’re looking to break up with Fast Fashion, now is the time.

Some brands have released statements to say that even if they are not able to sell as planned, they will not cancel their orders and they will keep paying factories (Forbes).

But how will small businesses be able to pay for items if they don’t sell them?

Can sustainable brands uphold these values and promises without the financial resources to do so?

Small businesses are certainly struggling to stay afloat during this crisis (WWD) .

Now more than ever, they need our support to weather the storm of COVID-19.

Image credit from left to right: Stella Mc Cartney; Amber Valetta

How to catalyze the Fashion Revolution

The Fashion Revolution is a global movement that was created one year after the Rana Plaza tragedy. The main goal is to improve traceability and transparency in the fashion industry.

Since 2017, they created the movement #Whomademyclothes? Every year, to commemorate the incident in Bangladesh, Fashion Revolution Week encourages millions of people to come together to campaign for systemic change in the fashion industry.

This year, Fashion Revolution week will be from the 20th to the 26th of April.

How does it work?

#1 Take a picture where the brand label can be seen. Selfies with the reverse t-shirt are best!

#2 Post it on social media with the hashtag #Whomademyclothes and the name of the #brand of who you are asking to treat their employees better.

#3 You will (hopefully) receive an answer #Imadeyourclothes from the brand.

Even if you don’t receive an answer you can be sure that more we ask, the more the brand will feel pressure to share its suppliers and treat workers fairly.

Image credit from left to right: Girlfriend Collective, Kowtow

What will happen?

The possibility of a better world is already visible.

Good things are happening out there:

#Social & Environmental Responsibility

Since the Rana Plaza, social and environmental certifications awareness has increased. Fairtrade, Global Organic Textile Standard, SA800, B Corporations… There are so many possibilities.

As a result of these initiatives, the number of deaths related to fires or building collapsing has decreased. The number of accidents involving more than 10 deaths, decreased from 17 in 2013 to 4 in 2017 (New Works University’s Stern Centre).

To ensure that the person who made your clothes receive fair wages and work in good conditions, shop fair trade certified brands such as Kowtow or SA800 certified brands such as Girlfriend Collective.

# Transparency & Traceability

Brands are becoming more transparent.  Popular brands such as Patagonia and Everlane are becoming leaders in supply chain transparency and traceability.

The hashtag Whomademyclothes and Imadeyourclothes is increasing through the years, reaching  55,200 and 12,689 posts respectively in during Fashion Revolution week 2019.

#Concerned Customers

Customers are willing to pay more for things that are well made (WWD). Especially Millennials! In fact,  75% of them want fair trade products (Patagonia)

COVID-19 also revealing how much citizens care about small sustainable brands and how much they want them to survive this crisis.

Searches for  ‘’Support small business’’ on Pinterest, have seen an increase of 351% since the lockdown.

To answer to its users, Pinterest launched “The Pinterest Shop” to support small sustainable brands and businesses that need help during the pandemic (WWD).

In order to support sustainable brands in need, Renoon’s Team just launched Renoon Express.

Participate to boost a sustainable brand that needs and deserves more visibility! In addition to helping promote these socially and environmentally conscious companies, you might win a sustainable piece from your favorite brand, that our team will pay for (yes!).

#Post-Pandemic Changes in the Fashion Industry

There is a possibility of a new normal once this pandemic ends. Studies show the post-emergency fashion landscape will be characterized by heightened consumer awareness and interest in ethical and environmentally friendly options.  (WWD).

Why wait until the end of the pandemic? Shop for basics to help sustainable businesses to survive this crisis and promote brands that deserve it most through Renoon Express!

 

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