Category

Life & Style

Fashion, Life & Style

Who Made My Clothes?

fashion revolution day

fashion revolution day

Who Made My Clothes image via People Tree

Today marks the tragic 2nd anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh.  1,134 people died in the collapse, largely women and children, who were at the time hard at work in overcrowded and poor conditions making clothing for Western fast fashion retailers.

The issue of clothing is a difficult one and a disjointed one.  In the West we don’t see sweatshops where women and children work long hours in poor conditions to make our clothes.  We just see the £3 t-shirts in the shops and fill our baskets without thinking about how a £3 t-shirt can possibly be made for £3, and the actions that take place along the supply chain to make that £3 top.  Rana Plaza, and other factories like it, are so far removed from home that we simply cannot imagine what it’s like for the workers of these factories or indeed who might be making our clothes.

In response to the Rana Plaza tragedy, and to help bridge this gap between the clothes in our shops and the people who make them, several ethical fashion advocates came together last year and created the first Fashion Revolution Day.  This sought to remember the dead and injured, as well as demanding transparency from clothes manufacturers about “who made my clothes”.

Since Moral Fibres started in February 2013 I’ve written a lot about ethical fashion.  One of the retailers I’ve featured heavily since the start of the site is People Tree*.

I first shopped with People Tree back in 2005, and over the last 10 years it’s a site I’ve turned to time and time again when I want to buy something new that I can be sure of it’s ethical credentials.  People Tree are so out and out proud of their ethical credentials that they’ve put together this “I Made Your Clothes” guide on the people that make the clothes for People Tree.  This really helps to bridge that all important gap between the garment and the people that make the garments.

people tree label

People Tree recently sent me their Juliette dress to model and it’s fast becoming one of my favourites.  They clearly state on the website and on the label that it’s made of 100% organic cotton, and that it’s produced by CAOS; an enterprise based in South India which adheres to strict ethical standards.

 who made my clothes

One of my biggest hopes for the near future is that all retailers can be like People Tree and have such high levels of transparency when it comes to who makes your clothes.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if one day we didn’t have differentiate particular clothes as being “ethical clothing”, and if all clothing was made ethically?  If we didn’t have to keep asking retailers “who made my clothes”?

Who Made My Clothes?

The good news is you can be part of this change through Fashion Revolution Day.  It’s really easy to take part through social media to help encourage retailers to have greater levels of accountability.  Here’s what you can do today:

  1. Turn your item of clothing inside out to reveal the label
  2. Take a photo of yourself wearing the item inside out
  3. Upload the photo to the social media platform of your choice
  4. Tag the fashion brand you’re wearing and ask #WhoMadeMyClothes? to help demand greater accountability from the company in question and#FashRev.  You can also tag 3 friends to join in on the fun and help spread the message further!
  5. Keep track of all the goings on via Fashion Revolution

Disclosure: People Tree sent me a dress to model but all words and opinions are my own.

Fashion, Life & Style

Your Ethical Style: Elizabeth Stilwell

clothes rail

ethical outfit

Elizabeth’s wearing: Silk top by Suzanne Rae / Skirt and coat secondhand from eBay / Watch by JORD and is made from wood furniture remnants / Shoes are men’s dress shoes found secondhand on Yerdle.

I’m really pleased to have Elizabeth Stilwell from ethical lifestyle blog, The Note Passer, on the blog today sharing her ethical style tips and inspirations.  New York City based Elizabeth shares a whole manner of advice for living more ethically and sustainably on her beautifully designed site.  If you haven’t visited her site before then you are most definitely in for a treat!

If you think you might recognise the name, then Elizabeth was the designer behind this really useful ethical shopping infographic that was featured here on Moral Fibres, and is also all over Pinterest!

Hi Elizabeth, can you share with us three facts about you?
1.  I’ve had glasses since the 4th grade.
2.  I taught English in China for five years.
3.  My husband and I live in a 350 square foot apartment in Manhattan.

Where are your favourite places to shop for ethical clothing?
I try to buy secondhand as much as possible.  I’ve sent in a lot of clothes to Twice for credit and use it to get new (to me) items.  I’ve also bought things from eBay and Etsy.  I shop my local secondhand stores and always go to thrift shops when I travel.

If I can’t find something used, I like to shop sites that do all of the ethical vetting for me.  Some of my favorites are Zady, Shop Ethica, and Nomadista.co.  I keep a running list here for whenever I need to shop for something.

What’s the last ethical item that you bought?
I just got a gorgeous bralette from Uye Surana.  It’s made of high-quality materials and was designed and crafted here in NYC.

ethical underwear

Is there anything secondhand or ethical that you are lusting over at the moment?
I’d love to have this organic cotton flannel robe from Coyuchi.

Do you have a top tip for shopping ethically?
Try to slow down your process.  Many retailers and brands manipulate us into thinking we’ll miss out on something if we don’t take advantage of a sale or trend.  By establishing a style that works for you (regardless of trends) and asking some questions before you buy, you can slow down that compulsion and avoid impulse buys.  I think through this series of questions and then do a lot of hunting before I actually buy something.

Is there anything you find difficult about shopping ethically?
There’s still a lot of time and effort that goes into shopping ethically.  Even if a brand is considered “ethical” I still sometimes have to ask questions like, “Do you know where your merino wool comes from and do the farmers practice mulesing?”.   I deal with this kind of thing all of the time, but it’s not a question the average consumer would even know to ask.  One of the purposes of my site is so I can pass this information on and help my readers make more informed decisions. It would be amazing if it didn’t take so much time and energy, but right now it does.

vintage shoes

Where do you get your style inspiration from?
That’s a good question.  I don’t really follow style blogs or read fashion magazines.  I think living in New York is inspiration enough; I notice a lot of styles when I’m out and mentally file them away to try myself.  For the most part though, I dress for comfort and practicality.  I recently “minimalised” my wardrobe with the help of my fashionable friend, Christina, and I’ve never felt more at ease in my clothes than I do now.  Everything I own now has a good shape and quality, neutral colors, and all goes together.  It’s a breeze to get dressed!

What is your best secondhand or ethical find ever?
A few summers ago, I was thrifting in Florida and found a pair of Liz Claiborne black velvet trousers. I didn’t realise it at the time, but they were such a great find!  I wear them so much in the winter because they are warm and look luxe while being incredibly comfortable.  I just adore the serendipity of thrifting!

What would be your ultimate thrifted find?
Like many people, I would love to find the perfect vintage leather jacket.  Still looking…

accessories

Could you tell us your top three style tricks/DIYs?
1.  Take good care of your clothes and hand wash delicate items so that they last a long time.
2.  Look for timeless shapes with interesting details to keep from looking too trendy and subsequently dated when the trend is over.
3.  If you are looking for a particular piece to add to your wardrobe, look for it secondhand first.  You can usually get better quality at a lower cost than anything you would get at a fast fashion chain.  With sites like Tradesy, Bib + Tuck, and TheRealReal, you can even get trendier stuff at a fraction of the cost and without it’s ethical burden (since it’s secondhand).

Thanks for taking part Elizabeth!  You can visit Elizabeth’s blog, and find her on Twitter, and Facebook.  New to Moral Fibres?  You can also check out the other Your Ethical Style posts!

Do you want to share your ethical style with Moral Fibres readers?  Whatever your age, sex, size, style, budget or location I’d love to feature you to show that ethical fashion is for everyone!  Get in touch via moralfibres@gmail.com to take part in Your Ethical Style!  There are no barriers to taking part – you don’t have to be a blogger to be featured!

 

all images c/o Elizabeth Stilwell