Sustainability Sunday #34

Fashion Revolution 2017: in review

Which brands opened up to the #whomademyclothes campaign and why is it so important that they do? 

When the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in 2013, it took some fashion brands weeks to work out whether they had links to the factories involved. To have such little knowledge of where your own products come from is unacceptable, yet frighteningly common as the recent Channel 4 Dispatches documentary Undercover: Britain’s Cheap Clothes revealed. So which of our favourite brands CAN tell us where our clothes are made?

WMMC

I personally engaged Topshop via Instagram, I have a couple of pairs of their “Jamie” jeans in different styles, and love them because they fit my size 10 butt and my age 10 legs at the same time. But, I have no idea where they came from, they don’t even have a “Made in….” label and Topshop are yet to respond to my query.

 

This year, as far as I can see across social media, our most open high street brands include H&M, Levi’s, Zara and Adidas which fits pretty well with last year’s trends according to Fashion Revolution and Ethical Consumer’s joint Fashion Transparency Index Report. These brands are also those that typically have sustainability or CSR strategies that aim to tackle supply chain issues; in contrast, those brands that have been reluctant to get involved in the #whomademyclothes campaign are typically the luxury fashion houses where sustainability is barely considered. Chanel, along with Dior, was ranked the lowest in the Fashion Transparency Index with a score of just 10% transparency and three years on from my first involvement with Fashion Revolution I am still asking Burberry who made my clothes.

So what can we do now? 

  • Continue to nag the worst offenders via social media and their direct contact options
  • Continue to support your favourite high street brands that ARE doing something, support the demand for ethical choices
  • Find new brands who are completely ethical and sustainable from the beginning – check out marketplaces like Gather & See online, or little shops like The Keep Boutique and Bias Boutique in London or Junk Shop in Manchester.

When you’re shopping:

Fairtrade cotton farmers, Mali
Photo credit: Simon Rawles
  • Look for companies who practice Fair Trade, which means providing fair wages to local workers and treating them with dignity and respect in a safe, healthy workplace.
  • Choose organic cotton when you can – the production process uses no harmful pesticides or synthetic dyes, keeping the environment safe and free from pollution.
  • Support companies who are Certified B Corps (Benefit Corporations) – these are businesses who care about healthy environments and alleviating poverty. Some examples include Patagonia, Reformation and MUD Jeans.

Why is this so important?

Let me hit you with the facts:

  1. 90% of the 75 million people working in fashion and textiles worldwide are unable to negotiate their working conditions or wages.
  2. An estimated 350,000 tonnes of used clothing goes to landfill just in the UK every year – this is about £140 million worth!
  3. Many of the clothes we wear contain toxic additives, which apart from getting into our skin when we wear our clothes, is particularly harmful for those working on creating them.
  4. 50% of all clothing is now made from polyester to feed the fast fashion collection turnovers, polyester is not biodegradable and will take approximately 200 years to breakdown in landfill.
  5. The clothing industry releases 2.1 million tons of carbon dioxide every year which amounts to 10% of all carbon pollution (ref.).

So Be Curious, Find Out and Do Something!

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