Hello! So I’ve been super rubbish at this whole blogging thing, my life is currently completely consumed by finishing off my degree (I cannot wait!) so I’ve had to put this on hold. After that’s all done though I am totally going to make this more the shiny great cyberspace place I want it to be in reality but currently only is in my mind… Anyway seeing as Fashion Revolution Day 2015 is tomorrow I wanted to write a few words about what exactly it is, why it is important to me and why it should be to you too. To put it simply, the Fashion Revolution matters to me because I want to be able to go into any given shop and know that behind any garment I pick up there is not the exploitation of another fellow human being, probably risking their life in unsafe working conditions, at the other end. I also rather like our lovely planet (which we’ve done a great job of messing up) and do my best to live sustainably, which highlights another huge part of the fashion industry that needs to change. This culture of fast fashion where we buy clothes, wear them a few times, discard, and repeat. This high-speed demand for clothing puts pressure on people and planet. It is unnecessary and needs to change. I guess that my concern for and awareness of the ethical problems with the fashion industry started with a documentary in geography class (back when I still did that circa 2005) exposing the reality of sweatshop labour behind a lot of our clothing. Fast forward several more years to my A-level Spanish exam my debate topic was something along the lines of “when we get dressed each day we’re responsible for other’s deaths”. Okay, so yea that might seem kind of extreme. Sadly there are elements of truth behind that statement. The 24th April marks the day on which, 2 years ago, 1133 people were killed in the Rana Plaza building collapse. That’s a lot of people. Not to mention the thousands more injured and affected by the disaster. And that was not the first or last case of workers dying in factories where clothing on our high streets is manufactured. The garment industry is completely disconnected; we have no knowledge of the story behind our clothing past wherever it says it was made on the label. We need to be more curious about our clothes; about how they were made, and who made them. We need to put pressure on brands and retailers to strive for transparency and as the consumers we are responsible for holding these companies accountable. The 24th April marks a global day of activism and awareness harnessing the power of fashion to make a change for good. If tomorrow you even just look at the label in whatever you decide to wear and consider that there’s a person somewhere out there who made that for you, it’s a step in the right direction. Even better (and it will literally take you a minute) you can take part by following these super simple steps: I’ll post a list of some great businesses, documentaries, blogs and such to check out soon. For now, I recommend that you have a look at the Fashion Revolution site here and join the Fashion Revolution!
It’s a new year and so I guess I should acknowledge the fact that this is the first post of 2015. Happy New Year and all that!
Now that’s out the way let me introduce you (if you’re not already acquainted) to Birdsong. Last autumn a friend told me about it and I’ve been meaning to do a little write up for a while. Birdsong is a great online shop which sells “handmade products by inspirational women’s charities in London”. There are currently three women’s enterprises that Birdsong works with, creating the clothing and accessories for sale on their website.
Sweet Cavanagh is responsible for the beautiful, ethical jewellery on the marketplace. The jewellery is made by women recovering from addictions and eating disorders and all profits from this social enterprise are invested back into the charity Free Me, which the jewellery brand Sweet Cavanagh is a part of. So if you’re looking for some new accessories to jazz up an outfit then have a look at their unique creations here.
The super cosy scarves on Birdsong are made by a group of ladies who meet weekly to knit and natter over a cup of tea (which is pretty damn cute). The knitters meet at The Bradbury, a part of Staywell, which is a day centre that provides the over 50s with a whole host of activities and services from line-dancing to Spanish classes. All profits from these scarves are donated to The Bradbury. So you can wrap up warm AND help the elderly.
The third organisation Birdsong currently works with is Heba. Having been around for 25 years this is a well-established project that provides women from a wide variety of different backgrounds with great opportunities to meet others and gain new skills in a safe, welcoming environment. They also create simply beautiful, chic garments.
Discovering platforms in the fashion industry like Birdsong, and the inspirational projects they work alongside, is encouraging. It’s always nice to be reminded that there are so many other options out there; that not having a clue who made your clothes, and the doubtful ethics behind them, is not the only choice. I will be writing more about such shops and projects in future posts and if you have any good ones to share then please do get in touch!