I take calls from news regularly, about the ethics of fashion production. We are all interested in feeling good about what we buy and wear. Some factories are audited, some retailers belong to ethical trading initiatives and some factory owners sublet work to other factories that fall under the radar. As consumers we are confused and as a commentator I'm still trying to get to the bottom of why retailers can behave in such manipulative ways.
It would be so much easier if our retailers used garment labels to give us more information. Being able to make a quick decision on whether or not you will give you money to a company who are posting huge profits and passing very little on the the worker suppling the clothes would be much easier if you knew you fave high street store was on it's way to FAIR TRAID.
A traffic light system, or a scale of caring could be printed on the humble label along with wash icons no?
Fashion Revolution was launched in July 2014 to call for exactly that and I was in the perfect place to endorse them, having spent over a week in Bangladesh, hosted by Safia Minney CEO of People Tree, where I met survivors of the collapsed Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka. I was raw with disappointment once I learned of the appalling conditions many women have to endure to supply us with fashionable items.
I wrote about it here Self Esteem from Worker to Wearer. I also placed a feature in Drapers suggesting that small independents had more power than they recognised to stock Fair Trade ranges for their customers and educate them to understand the importance of slow fashion.
Long after I returned, I got a letter from one of the Fair Trade compound with thanks. I and others had donated money to build an outside toilet for children who were lucky enough to attend a makeshift rural school (their english was exquisite and their polite warmth was heart warming), while their parents worked to make cotton scarves.
A reminder that the basics are still a long way off for those who make our clothes.