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The Ethical Fashion Journey

I blog a lot about ethical fashion and sustainable fashion but how much do I actually know about this topic?

I’d say maybe 20% if that? Ignorance is bliss until you decide that you want to know more. I’m not an avid fashion trend follower nor a 2nd hand shopper. I just bought when I either needed something or absolutely must have that deer cardigan. As time has gone on, I have grown out of a few items or they’ve been worn to death that they were either see-through or could’ve been used as rags. I find shopping arduous. I never seem to find the perfect fit or things that I like that I want so it was only up to very recently, maybe past 2 years, that I’ve sat down and thought about clothing.

We all start at this point of something triggering yourself to do something. So I started paying attention to articles, brands and youtube videos that explored this whole topic of which I knew nothing about. Ethical/sustainable fashion is not mainstream. Let’s face it, if I asked you for names of 5 companies that produce sustainable ethical clothing could you tell me? I can’t even tell myself. So I’d like to share some brands that I’ve come across on my journey into ethical fashion .

So far, I have got People Tree founded by Safia Minney. Made Jewellery . Australian brand Gorman. Australian adventure store Patagonia. Clog shoes brand Swedish Hasbeens.

Which brands do you know? Let me know because I’d love to discover more.

-S.

2 Euro T-shirt: Social Experiment

I know this youtube clip came out ages ago (about 2 months ago!) and I had seen it in passing probably when I was on the train so didn’t click on the link (high data rates but that’s another story) and had recently remembered to watch the clip. It was part of fashion revolution this year, a vending machine selling t-shirts was set up in a public space and the public were giving the chance to buy these 2 Euro shirts after watching a small clip about how the shirts were made. They could then choose whether or not they still wanted to buy the t-shirt.

People cannot act on what they don’t know so it was a great initiative which was short and straight to the point. Ah, I love it when there are these social experiments around.

If you’ve just stumbled upon this blog now here are some handy links:

This is what fashion revolution is about. My post this on fashion revolution day. And the True Cost documentary trailer and my review of it here.

Keep at it kids,

-S.

Review: True Cost Documentary

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A few nights ago, I went to the local premiere screening of the True Cost documentary. This documentary takes us on a journey back to the roots of how our fast fashion clothing is made and the conditions that they’re made under. It highlights the disparity between the amount we pay for the clothing and the true cost of what it takes to make the garment. Much of which is not priced. The documentary asks questions such as what price do we put on polluting the environment, what price do we put on workers who go into work everyday in unsafe working conditions and what price do we put on our personal involvement in all this? A $10 t-shirt does not put a price on any of this. Neither could a $100 t-shirt. This is why this documentary is so powerful, it addresses a hole in our consuming society.

Producer Andrew Morgan also shows the other side, the arguments for sweatshops and how developing countries and people working in these sweatshops need these jobs. And they do. I think it’s a well rounded film that doesn’t just say you should stop buying this and buy that because X is bad. It takes you through why X is bad and what effect it’s having. From the cotton farmers, the role of big seed and fertiliser corporations, the factory workers and their families/communities, their bosses, their Government, major designers and brands, celebrities, popular culture, store customers and finally fashion waste disposal are all featured in this documentary and are all nicely linked. It’s a huge industry and one that is currently having an enormous impact on your lives as you read this, my life as I write this and the lives of everyone mentioned above. It’s an industry that needs to be changed and it needs to change now.

If you get the chance to see this, I would encourage you to as it’s highly informative and there are many points that this documentary brings up that we should be thinking about, as an individual, a society, a country and as part of a global community.

-S.

The True Cost

Following on from Fashion Revolution (also previously blogged about here and here), The True Cost documentary takes us inside the fashion industry and reveals at what stake cheap and fast fashion is having on our world socially and environmentally. Judging from the trailer, it looks like it’ll be an informative session.

The documentary will be released world wide on the 29th May, so check around town to see if there’s one screening near you (click on the true cost documentary link above to find out about screening locations on their site).

-S.

#whomademyclothes

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Today is Fashion Revolution Day and marks the day that we, as consumers, demand more transparency in the fashion industry. In the wake of Rana Plaza (previously blogged about here), there is a call for change to ensure safe working conditions and treatment for everyone along the production line of our favourite fashion labels, which will lead to sustainable changes.

This year is the 2nd Fashion Revolution Day, so what have we achieved since? This report came out by Baptist World Aid featuring many popular stores in Australia and they’ve been ranked across 4 categories: Policies, Traceability & Transparency, Monitoring & Training and Workers Rights Grade with each company/brand receiving a score from A-F. The first report came out in 2013 and this year, 18 new companies representing over 91 brands have been added to the report. That’s a total of 219 brands this year compared to 128 in 2013. The good news is that since the 2013 report, many companies have started to change their transparency. The cessation of child labour in Uzbekistan and increase of minimum wage of 75% in Bangladesh (although still the lowest in the world) are pointed out as some of the positive changes that have since occurred.

What is interesting in the report is how much change has occurred and how well companies are ranking at the Cut-Make level compared to the collection of Raw Materials (aside from ethical fashion brands). This highlights the point that for the fashion industry to become more sustainable, change also needs to happen at the bottom of the level. How are these materials grown? What is the impact of fertilizers and harvesting on the environment and human health? What are the working conditions and treatment of those employed at this level and the use of child labourers? These are still some of the issues that remain unanswered in majority of the companies in this report.

Why is it so important that we keep asking questions? It’s the recognition that these conditions that fashion is made under cannot last and is not sustainable enough to last because of seasonal changes in trends and fast fashion. It’s the recognition that workers across any industry should have equal rights and working conditions-conditions where they are safe and healthy. It’s the recognition that consumers have buying power and choice and we can use these towards what we care about. It’s the recognition that everyone in the fashion industry- from designers, companies, makers, purchases- are all tied together.

Who made your clothes? Who made my clothes?

-S.

Hexamine

Hexamine Canadian graphic designer Laurence Gregoire has created these coloured pencils that have zero packaging in order to minimise waste. These wooden pencils are bound together and can be snapped off. Awesome. -S.

World’s Tallest Vertical Garden

World’s tallest vertical garden THIS may look familiar to some. The world’s tallest vertical garden lives in Sydney and is covered with 250 native Australian plants. With Parisian architect Jean Nouvel and another French artist and botanist (inventor of vertical gardens) Patrick Blanc at the wheel, each aspect of this building is built for a […]

Tomorrow Machine

Tomorrow machine The packaging around your meat, the container your cream comes in, the bag your carrots come in are all made from plastic. Then comes Tomorrow Machine, a Swedish design studio, who are making food packaging that is 100% bio-based and biodegradable. With a few inventions that include wrappers that change into bowls or […]

Emirates Upcycles

Emirates upcycles marketing poster

Definitely a move in the right direction, airline Emirates has recycled their posters by turning them into shopping bags. Using a 208 square metre poster taken from outside Zurich airport, they created more than 300 reusable shopping bags in 16 days.

In addition to this, the Swiss company Feinschliff were involved, which offers employment to people who have been unemployed for a large period of time.

Excellent choice by Emirates (even if it’s temporary and in a bid to win some brand loyalty).

-S.

Sanctuaria

Sanctuaria Dutch designer Morgan Ruben Jansen op de Haar, inspired by nature meeting with the man-made world has created Sanctuaria. This art installation carries endangered plant species from around the world, in their own capsules- a haven away from their destroyed natural habitat. This collection offers such a strong statement where nature has to be […]