Every piece of clothing has a story, what does yours say?
Fashion is so much about telling a story, representing who we are with how we dress and our creative expression. Who do you represent when you put on your favourite brands, does it reflect your values. How often do we think about the narrative our clothing holds, before we bought it.
Fashion is about culture, carrying a certain look to maintain a sense of who we are. Feeling a part of something greater than ourselves is a basic human instinct and one of the easiest ways to see that, is to pay attention to how someone dresses. Whether it's a fur coat that screams domination over nature, a thrift shopped outfit defying consumerism or an outfit that showcases your cultural heritage, we can tell a lot about our fellow human from the way they dress.
The global trend for rapid consumerism and the ever-increasing demand for cheap clothing is driving the poverty cycle in underdeveloped nations, such as Bangladesh, India, China, and Vietnam.
Ever wondered how that $10 T-shirt could be so cheap? The truth is we may not be paying but someone else is. Not out of their pocket, but with their cheap labour. With more than two-thirds of textile factory workers being women. Working for the minimum wage in Bangladesh means being paid $68 per month or 50 cents an hour. Basic living costs are around $190 a month meaning that even when companies are paying a legal wage, their workers may be forced to take their children out of school to beg and often have to live in overcrowded accommodation.(1)
Not only does this industry force workers into poverty but with few regulations and a hunger for profit, the environment too is suffering, greatly! Toxic dyes openly dumped into waterways are decimating wildlife and contaminating drinking water. A concern on a local scale, but globally the textile industry releases around 1.2 billion tones of carbon into the air, each year. That's approximately 5% of the worlds carbon emissions, more than all the international flights and maritime shipping put together!(2)
How do we rewrite the story?
Support fair-trade! Go local! Go organic! Educate yourself!
Most important of all, let companies know what your values are and what you do want to support! Each dollar you spend is casting your vote
Supply chain transparency means exactly what it sounds like, how clearly can we track where a product was produced, but also how and by who. It's important to get behind companies clearing up their supply chains and making them public knowledge, as it's a step in the right direction. If consumers are able to see the impacts each brand has, they are empowered to make ethical decisions.
What is fair-trade?
Fairtrade advocates for better working conditions and improved terms of trade for farmers and workers in developing countries.
It’s about supporting the development of thriving farming and worker communities to have more control over their futures and protecting the environment in which they live and work.(3)
What is slow fashion?
The term slow fashion has been floating around recently, but what does it actually mean? The industrial demand for ever cheaper and more disposable clothing is driving the people who make our clothing further into poverty and into worse living condition. The only logical answer to counter such a tread is to value slow fashion. Being conscious consumers; supporting ethical companies and purchasing quality items that will last. Ask yourself three questions:
Do I know who made this and if they're being treated fairly?
Is this an investment that is going to last, is it of high quality?
Do I actually want this because I need it, or because I'm expected to consume and spend?
I want my clothes to represent my values and know when I spent money, where it's going and who is actually benefiting from it. The story I want to tell is one of human compassion and connection source.
- Written and photography by William Verschuur