January is here and so are the after-holiday sales! Ready to restock your wardrobe with the latest fashion items? A flowery blouse, a fluffy blue sweater or a velvet skirt? After all, an item bought last winter is probably out of style for the coming season. Nowadays, fashion changes every season and you can reward yourself with a new item every day. Have you ever looked at an item and asked yourself ‘who made this’? Where do our clothes come from?
Can you remember the disaster that took place in one of the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh on the 24th of April 2013? It is the deadliest accident ever occurred in the garment industry. The Rana Plaza, an eight-story building, collapsed while over 4000 garment workers were sewing clothes for Western fast-fashion stores (e.g. Mango or Primark). That day thousands were injured, some for the rest of their lives. More than 1000 people didn’t make it out of the debris alive. This catastrophe led to a widespread discussion about the transparency in the fast-fashion supply chain due to their bad work environment. Where do our clothes come from?. Before this accident, not many people asked themselves this question.
As a result, a worldwide, non-profit movement saw the light: ‘the Fashion Revolution‘. This foundation fights for more clarity across the whole fashion industry. Over the last few years, a lot of controversial topics became more discussable. For example, the wages for garment workers in developing countries are so low that they can barely make ends meet. The basic needs like proper housing, food, education, and health care cannot be paid from this salary. And that should be a fundamental human right. Especially if you have to show up for work more than 80 hours a week, don’t you think? Besides, the fast-fashion industry is also linked to major environmental pollution.
To raise more awareness the anniversary day of the disaster at Rana Plaza is named ‘Fashion Revolution Day’. The foundation asks people to engage by either participating in a demonstration, writing letters to their favorite fashion brand asking for more information or by simply using the hashtag #WHOMADEMYCLOTHES on social media.
Full traceability in the near future?
After more than 5 years of demanding more clarity, big commercial brands are still not fully transparent as for how their workers are treated, where the production takes place or what kind of impact their brand has on the planet. According to the Fashion Revolution, only 10 brands score higher than 50% transparency.
A pioneer in the business: Asket, which is a Swedish menswear label. As a matter of fact, the brand aims 100% transparency by April 2019! Today, the raw materials of their cashmere sweater are up to 79% traceable. This ecologic brand prints the information on their labels and shares it online. How does (near) full transparency look like? See the image below. Even an ecologically made garment see a lot of the World before ending up in our wardrobes!
Cashmere Yarn: Cashmere wool shorn in inner Mongolia – researching exact origin. Carded in Prato, Italy. Cashmere yarn spun, twisted and dyed in Prato, Italy. Elastane: Elastane yarn for cuff reinforcement – researching origin. Thread: Polyester thread produced in Breisgau, Germany. Polyester thread wound and packed in St. Maria de Palautordera, Spain. Garment construction: Knitted in Magione, Italy. Linked in Korba, Tunisia. Hangtag: Paper pulp and hangtag produced in Dongguan, China. Polyester produced, spun and twisted to string in Dongguan, China. Care Label: Polyester, spun, woven and printed in Dongguan, China. Main Label: Polyester, spun and woven in Dongguan, China. Packaging: Plastic from the UK, bag made in Vojens, Denmark. Storage & shipping: Stored in and shipped from Tallinn, Estonia Shipped in carton boxes made in Värnamo, Sweden.
So, Where do our clothes come from?
Almost no one can give an exact answer to this question, yet. But remember that we, as consumers, have more power than we think when it comes to making choices about where to spend your money. And that’s why I choose to buy my future items more conscious!