Fashion Takes Action


On Tuesday 29th October, over a hundred people came to an event hosted by People Tree, to hear where the Fashion Industry was at 6 months after the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh. A number of topics were covered, with different representatives sharing their experiences and understandings of what makes Fair Trade stand out. The room was a mix of people, individuals yet to be convinced, others there for research and some converts ready to carry the campaign through. The Rag Rage campaign pioneered by People Tree, alongside campaigns from War on Want and the Clean Clothes Campaign has so far seen a hundred brands pledge to the Bangladesh Safety Accord, but hundreds more names need to be added.

In amongst all of the talks and presentations, it was a straight question asked to Lord Peter Melchett from the Soil Association, that got me thinking most of all – “What will it take for the British general public to buy ethically produced clothes?” His answer paralleled the fashion industry to the food industry. He drew our minds to the ‘sourced locally’, ‘free range’ and ‘Best of British’ tags we expect to see, from the market stall to the supermarkets. You almost have to go out of your way to buy meat from another country and seasonal veg is celebrated in magazines and on cooking programmes. Jamie Oliver has gathered a huge following and seen changes to animal welfare and school dinners for the better whilst Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has inspired many veg patches in our back gardens. For some it is not uncommon to know of individuals going ‘foraging’ on a Sunday afternoon. And why not? A connection with food and where it came from, with peace of mind, brings joy to cooking, sharing and eating.
So when will we begin to get this stirred up and convicted about the clothes which we wear day in day out? When will we demand for transparency in the supply chain and not settle for less than ‘made by people with choice’ on our tags? How long will it be before we ask who made our clothes not just what brand name it has on the label? By considering who, we may see their talent and creativity, taking joy and care in wearing it. Lord Melchett believes it will take this type of compassionate thinking about clothes for the culture to change. The food industry isn’t there yet, but the fashion industry has a lot of catching up to do.

It’s a challenge to many to keep our wardrobes aboveboard, so thank you to FAIR for being part of the alternative.

Lizzy Dalby

Lizzy is our first guest blogger, a great customer and part of the Brighton affiliate of STOP THE TRAFFIK

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