The last few weeks I’ve had some eye-opening lessons. At times, I have felt so ignorant to not realise so many really apparent forms of white privilege (like the colour of plasters matching white skin). But hey, that’s the whole point of educating ourselves! A combination of having time on our hands and trying to cheer ourselves up has meant that we have done a fair bit of online shopping… I know I have. But how much do we actually know about the brands we shop at in relation to exploiting BIPOC? I also want to touch on the sustainability issue surrounding the Fashion Industry. It’s time for a Fashion Revolution and to boycott racist fashion brands.
Firstly, Let’s Talk About Garment Makers
Pick out a few items of clothing from your wardrobe and check the labels to see where they’re made. Which countries do you have? Fast Fashion brands have their clothes made on mass by garment makers working in places such as Bangladesh, India, China and Cambodia. The reason for this is because there are no laws/ a limited number of laws that are often not implemented to protect these workers rights. 80% of the garment makers workforce are female. So, the issue of gender exploitation is also important to be mindful of. In these same countries, there is a prevalent gender discrimination that results in women not having job security, a safe environment in which to work and a lower wage to name only a few reasons. I’ve mentioned previously about my favourite charity Action Aid, but they have some great resources on this issue to read through.
The Effect of Covid-19 on Garment Makers
As we all know, everything has been affected by Coronavirus. The Fashion Industry has cancelled collections in a bid to minimise their losses, but a lot of the work has already been carried out. This has had a catastrophic effect on garment makers lives. Brands have been refusing to pay for their cancelled shipments, meaning factory owners can’t pay their workers. As a result, many garment makers have lost their jobs or have been furloughed without pay. According to Remake, more than 50 million international garment workers have been negatively affected due to the pandemic.
Remake created a #PAYUP petition, where they have also complied a list of brand culprits below. N.B. To sign this petition, click on the previous sentence. I wanted to share the list of brands who haven’t paid, so that (hopefully) you will make an informed decision about where you shop next:
Brands That Need to #PayUp
- Arcadia (Burton, Topshop, etc)
- Edinburgh Woolen Mill (Bonmarche, Peacocks)
- Fashion Nova
- Forever 21
- Gap (Old Navy, Athleta, Banana Republic
- Levi Strauss & Co.
- Li & Fung/ Global Brands Group
- Ross Stores
- The Children’s Place
- URBN (Urban Outfitters, Free People, Anthropologie
- Walmart/ Asda/ George
The Issue of Sustainability
It wouldn’t be a Fashion Revolution without talking about sustainability. There has been so much on this issue in recent years. Whether it be Environmental and the pollution caused, use of chemicals or waste. To the social issues, on modern slavery, wages or working hours. It’s fair to say that there is a big issue of sustainibility in the fashion industry. I have learnt so much through the Common Objective website. I don’t want to just regurgitate their information, so please check out that link. They honestly have resources on EVERYTHING you could want to know about issues of sustainability.
So, What Can We Do for the Fashion Revolution?
There are a number of things that we can all do to help those who are being exploited by the Fashion Industry.
- Be mindful of where you shop. It’s important to remember that as customers, we have the control of where we spend our money. If you want to shop at a big fashion brand, do a little “background check” on them – there is so much information about brands failure to act at the moment.
- Sign Petitions. There are loads of petitions out there that you can sign to help garment makers and help push for sustainability in the Fashion Industry. Have a google and get signing!
- Shop Vintage. Who doesn’t love having a one off piece? I love shopping vintage because you can get some really beautiful buys. There is nothing more fun that trawling through racks of vintage clothing. They have also stood the test of time – and will continue to do so if you look after them!
- Shop Independent. There are so many amazing small brands who are making beautiful clothing. Yes, they may cost a little bit more but their pieces are so well made and it’s always good to help a small business.
- Shop Second-Hand.Whether it’s charity shops or Depop, shopping second hand is a really great and sustainable way of clothes shopping.
- Help Garment Makers. They work the hardest for our fast fashion needs, and are treated so poorly. I came across LostStock at the beginning of Lockdown and bought a box of cancelled clothing to support a garment maker for a week. There are also lots of emergency funds where you can donate to help a garment worker.
I just want to make a point of saying that although I won’t be shopping from certain brands anymore, I won’t just be throwing away those clothes either. From now on the plan is to make my wardrobe a mixture of vintage and independent labels, and work to withdraw fast fashion brands. I wanted to create this post as I’ve been learning a lot more about brands and want to make a more conscious effort of where I shop in the future.