What’s going on in the clothing industry?
There are about 40 million garment factory workers in the world. Almost 4 million work in one of the 5 thousand factories in Bangladesh. The labourers are making clothes for all the familiar high street brands.
Last week I had a pretty frustrating day in the studio. It was my own doing; I accidentally sewed up several pairs of Oppi shoes incorrectly. I consoled myself with a cup of tea and then set to work with my quick-unpick. I’ve since sewn each little shoe with the care and attention it deserves.
My mistake really didn’t have many consequences. I wasn’t beaten, I didn’t lose my job, my pay wasn’t docked.
For many workers in the clothing industry these might have been the consequences.
Our choices really matter
I originally made the decision to use ethically sourced and upcycled fabric for Oppi babywear because it seemed like the right thing to do. Only recently have I started to realise the importance of that choice.
Three specific experiences opened my eyes to issues in the clothing industry:
- I took a course on Sustainable Fashion with The Ethical Fashion Forum
- I watched The True Cost movie
- I attended a talk by to Livia Firth at Bath in Fashion week
I made the mistake last week because I was distracted. I was thinking about the scenes I’d been shown and the facts I’d heard. I was grieved that for millions of sewers, many of whom are women and girls, being at their sewing machine is verging on slave labour. It is not the enjoyable skilled craft that it should be.
So, what have I been discovering?
I am going to show you some of the images and information which has left me distracted, moved, and asking so many questions.
In due course I'd like to compose a more informative post about issues in the clothing industry, but first I need some time. I want to check the sources of claims that seem too awful to be true. I need to calm my riled emotions. I'd like to explore the question: what else can we do to make a difference to this unsustainable industry?