Today, April 24, is Fashion Revolution Day. It has been one year since the tragedy in Rana Plaza and to bring attention to ethical fashion, Fashion Revolution Day was started. So have a look at the label on your clothes and see who made them.
Be curious, find out, and do something.
Here is an email I received from oxfam today. If you are in Sydney or Melbourne please check this out!! You have the perpetuity to see Sumi Abedin, a garment factory worker who survived a fire at her work. You can hear first hand how these workers are really treated. This is an amazing opportunity!
Faced with the terrible choice between burning alive, or jumping to what seemed like a certain death, Bangladeshi garment worker Sumi Abedin chose to jump. She hoped that by jumping her family would be able identify her body - she knew if she stayed her body would be burned beyond recognition.
Against the odds, Sumi survived the drop from the third-floor of the Tazreen garment factory with a broken ankle and arm. And she has an important message for you.
Join or invite your friends to the Melbourne event (Tues 15th April) via Facebook
Join or invite your friends to the Sydney event (wed 16th April) via Facebook
Since that factory fire in November 2012, Sumi has been campaigning with Kalpona Akter (former child garment worker) for improved factory safety.
As a labour rights campaigner myself, I was appalled when I heard about the Tazreen fire that killed 112 workers. And then in April last year, the eight-story Rana Plaza building collapsed. The huge loss of life (more than 1,100 dead and 2,500 injured) shocked the world.
Since then, thousands of people like you successfully campaigned for Australian clothing brands signed onto the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord to help prevent future tragedies (Kmart, Cotton On Group, Target and others have signed).
But almost a year after the Rana Plaza collapse, The Just Group (Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Peter Alexander) and Best&Less still haven’t signed the Accord.
Please come and hear Sumi and Kalpona on why signing the Accord is so important; and how you can support the people who make your clothes.
Tuesday 15th April
5.30 for a 6pm start
Melbourne City Conference Centre Swanston St,
Melbourne (near cnr of Lt. Lonsdale St, opposite the State Library)
Free entry, View and invite friends to the Melbourne Event on Facebook
Wednesday 16th April
5.30 for a 6pm start
NSW Teachers Federation Conference Centre
37 Reservoir St, Surry Hills, Sydney (near Central Railway Station)
Free entry, View and invite friends to the Sydney Event on Facebook
If you are not in Melbourne and Sydney, please share this with your friends in those cities who might be able to attend
Corporate Accountability and Fair Trade Advisor
Copyright © 2014 Oxfam Australia, All rights reserved.
For past couple of months I’ve been interning at a large company in the fashion industry. It’s a great opportunity, but got me to thinking about the use if interns in the creative industries.
Is free labour really fair when large companies with a high income can obviously afford to pay their interns? And are interns being exploited? I think in most case yes.
To an extent, I agree that work experience is important but only in small blocks. And the intern must be learning!! Too many times I and others I’ve talked to have gained internships at companies pouring coffee, sending mail etc. I know that I’m not going to be designing collections or having meetings with the boss but its so important to show interns what is involved in these fashion rolls so they know if its for them. How can I learn anything about being a designer or working in a design team by doing the jobs no one else wants to do?
I agree with starting from the bottom ad working my way up the ladder, but exploiting eager students who are unwilling to speak up is not on. The number of interns used in the fashion industry is out of control and too many paid roles are being replaced by free interns.
The ‘Made in Bangladesh’ campaign as it appears in magazines.
American Apparel, purveyor of shiny pants and bodysuits, has once again courted controversy with their latest ad campaign.
The full page ad that appears in UK and US editions of Vice magazine features Maks, a stunning Bangladeshi-American woman who has worked for the company since 2010, with the words “Made in Bangladesh” splashed across her naked chest.
What with the toplessness, the allusions to ethical concerns about Bangladeshi garment industry and (as is explained in her profile) Mak’s decision to abandon her Islamic faith, American Apparel is out to shock. I’m torn – is the sexual and cultural exploitation occurring in this ad excusable if it’s for a good cause? Does it bring to light the plight of the Bangladeshi garment worker, or does it exploit them to sell high-waisted jeans and over-priced tees?
The campaign plays to one of American Apparel’s unique selling propositions – they are sweat-shop free, with all of their clothes being manufactured in their own factory in Southern California. It’s an admirable fact, and one that has the company putting a focus on the environmental and social impact of clothing production – the decidedly unglamourous side to fashion that most retailers ardently avoid.
But, not content with celebrating the fact that they employ over 5000 people in their local factories (the largest sewing facility in North America, according to the company), the company goes after already marginalised Bangladeshi garment workers to make their point.
The ad explains (in the first and only time the actual clothes are mentioned) that the jeans are “manufactured by 23 skilled American workers in Downtown Los Angeles, all of whom are paid a fair wage and have access to basic benefits such as healthcare.” Obviously it is commendable that American Apparel pays their employees fairly, but directly attacking the Bangladesh garment industry as a whole is an unhelpful simplification of a complex situation.
Why pick on the workers, rather than the western fashion brands and retailers that are squeezing these developing nations for every dollar in an attempt to increase margins? The answer is not to stop manufacturing in Bangladesh – a boycott would cripple the economy and lead to mass unemployment – but to raise the standards of working conditions and provide workers with a living, not minimum, wage.
There is no denying that American Apparel are a more ethically and socially responsible option than many fast fashion retailers with murky supply chains, and that they should be able to market themselves as such. But this ad goes further, fetishising race and cultural difference to sell product.
The beautiful, half-naked Maks in her undone blue jeans is the kind of ‘Made in Bangladesh’ that suits American Apparel – sexy, exotic, confident and Westernised. She is a version of multiculturalism that they can get on board with, but hardly represents the majority of women in her native country.
American Apparel’s intentions are not evil – Iris Alonzo’s the brand’s Creative Director says, their advertisements aim to “celebrate women, diversity, healthy body image and female empowerment.” But this advertisement does not meaningfully represent Bangladeshi or American women.
While it’s not surprising that the brand has come out with yet another campaign that so pointedly objectifies women, it is worsened by their attempt to layer it with an ill-considered message about responsible manufacturing: that the answer is not to increase wages of poorly paid workers in developing nations, but instead to shift consumption to American-made products. By going after Bangladeshi workers, American Apparel attacks the symptom of the problem rather than the cause, proving that while their manufacturing philosophy may be ethically sound, their marketing strategy leaves a lot to be desired.
Join the conversation about the consequences of ‘fast fashion’ at the All About Women festival at The Sydney Opera House this weekend.
Here are some of my favourites from London fashion week 2014.
Beauty - there were many dewy, fresh faced look on the runways this year. Some of my favourites were Marni, Jil Sander and Hugo Boss.