As Christmas offers are chasing us every where, we Up-fuse Team, made this post  for those who ask WHAT? WHO? & HOW those gifts were made. We are always very keen to help consumers have a full vision of what is really going on in the fashion world and share any useful piece of information. So maybe, just maybe we could help someone find a solution or an outstanding opinion that could make our communities and our planet a happier one. 

With love Y&R – and special thanks to Joi Sears for this amazing article

 

Earlier this year, Fashion Revolution released a shocking viral video. In an effort to fuel their social marketing campaign, the brand placed a vending machine selling plain white tee-shirts on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz. The tee-shirts were sold for only 2€ each. The video shows customers approaching the machine in ones and twos, inserting coins and selecting a size.

However, right before the tee-shirt pops out, a black and white image of a young girl appears on the screen. She’s sitting at a sewing machine in an overcrowded factory. “Meet Manisha” it says. Manisha is one of millions of people who are making our cheap clothing. She makes as little as 13 cents an hour and works up to 16 hours a day. The Berliners cover their mouths in disbelief.

“Do you still want to buy this shirt?” the display asks. The menu comes up again, this time asking the shoppers if they want to buy the 2€ shirt or donate that money instead. All those shown in the video chose to donate, but in the real world this practice is very uncommon.

People want clothing for a bargain. They want to be up to date with the newest fashion trends and feel the excitement that comes with buying a brand new outfit without breaking the bank. But the question is, would they still buy it if they knew how it was made? The Fashion Revolution encourages consumers to pose this question to their favorite brands by asking, “Who made my clothes?”

bangladesh-factory-collapse-1024x682

Rana Plaza Factory collapsing in Bangladesh

This movement was sparked after a devastating event rocked the fashion world. On April 24, 2013 Rana Plaza, an eight-story factory, collapsed in the capital of Bangladesh. After a search of almost 20 days, the death toll reached an alarming height of 1,133 people and approximately 2,515 others were severely injured. This was considered to be the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry, and one that shook the fashion world to its core.

It wasn’t the first, and sadly enough it might not be the last. This event was symptomatic of how little respect is given to the people who make our clothes and the environment they work in. It served as a stark reminder of the lack of transparency, accountability and human rights that plague the global fashion industry.

Invisible Women of Rana Plaza Photographer: Keven Frayer

Invisible Women of Rana Plaza Photographer: Keven Frayer

The campaign’s “Fashion Revolution Day” continues to attract people in over 68 countries around the world. It implores them to challenge global fashion brands to demonstrate commitment to transparency throughout the value chain, from farmers and factories to brands and consumers.

Garment manufacturing is one of the world’s largest industries, behind agriculture, automobiles and electronics. The fashion industry is worth over $3 trillion USD. Fashion is one of the most labor dependent industries on the planet, employing hundreds of millions of people from farm to final product. Yet the people who make our clothes are hidden from us, often at their own expense, a symptom of the broken links across the fashion industry across the fashion supply chain.

As consumers demand greater transparency from the brands they’ve grown to love, more of these heartbreaking stories are coming to the light. Stories like those of Meem, a nine-year-old girl, who works 9am to 9pm every day in horrifying conditions to help support her family, earning as little as $25 a month with no weekends, holidays, or sick days.

Meem - Child Labor

But what would a fashion revolution actually look like? It would be a movement towards slow fashion for one. It would also prioritize greater transparency from manufacturers and explore opportunities for recycling, up-cycling and ethical practices throughout the value chain. A fashion revolution would provide consumers with consciously produced products that are good for the environment and fair to the people who made them.

Slow fashion is “about understanding the process or the origins of how things are made,” explains Soraya Drabi, co-founder of the clothing line Zady, “Where our products come from, how they’re constructed and by whom. Slow fashion is really indicative of a movement of people who want to literally slow down”.

The concept of slow fashion is not something new. It’s an idea that has been around for a long time. Over the past two years it has surged into a small-but-dedicated movement, partly inspired by the Rana Plaza. Slow Fashion is not a seasonal trend that comes and goes like animal print, but fashion movement which attempts to slow the rate of change down to a sustainable pace.

When we slow down we realize that we don’t need to buy new trends every six weeks as the fast-fashion retailers are pushing them out, we need to step back and reassess what is really important to us.  Getting started in the slow fashion movement doesn’t necessarily mean we need to knit our own socks; we simply need to make more conscious shopping decisions.

Instead of being wrapped up in consumerism, buying more stuff just to buy more stuff, Slow Fashion challenges us to reduce, reuse, and recycle. It is actually a movement to own less stuff, to shop more intentionally and make more conscious choices. Unlike the $7 shirt that is designed to last only one season, slow fashion is more about quality and quantity.

The fact of the matter is, if you pay more for an item – you find more value in it. You wear it more often and you take better care of it. When you shop more consciously, you become more aware of how that product is made, what it is made of, and the story behind it.

As consumers, we are in the driver seat when it comes to driving bottom-up systemic social change. Imagine what the world would be like if millions of shoppers stopped buying from mainstream retailers and only made purchases from brands that make a positive impact on our health, human rights, and the environment. Together, we can create a better world for ourselves and our planet.

So, the next time you pick up that $7 tee-shirt, ask yourself, is it really worth it? What kind of world is your purchase creating? Each dollar is a vote towards building the world that you want to see.

Joi Sears

Joi Sears

Joi M. Sears is a brand strategist, social impact storyteller and social entrepreneur. She is the founder and Creative Director of Free People International. Check out her outstanding website.http://www.freepeopleinternational.com

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