Every stitch tells a story
Have you ever noticed how many parts make up each piece of clothing you own? What about the fact that each part was sewn together by human hands? This month we’re taking time to consider the stories of the people behind the stitches.
We've become increasingly disconnected from the people that make our clothes. When we don’t see the faces and hands behind the clothes we wear, it’s much easier to treat our clothes as disposable items, easily discarded and quickly replaced. Clothing waste is a huge problem, driven in part by the belief that our clothes are disposable and don't need to be loved and looked after.
The fashion industry has an enormous impact on the lives of millions of people and the way we buy, look after and dispose of our clothes is all part of that. By appreciating the work that goes into our clothes, we can start to look at our clothes in a different way; recognising that they have a value that goes beyond the price tag.
We can also challenge brands to change the way they do business, so that the people who make our clothes have access to safe working environments, are paid a fair wage and are treated with dignity and respect. There is positive change happening in the fashion industry, and adding your voice will help it gain momentum (more on this next month!).
So, here goes…
Who made my clothes?
Pick any item of clothing - it could be your loved item from last month or anything else in your wardrobe. Take a moment to look at all the different parts that make it up - sleeves, collar, labels, pockets, buttons, embroidery, lining, poppers, zips...(extra points if you can know the actual names of all the different bits). Consider the fact that every single part was put together by human hands, and that the person behind this item of clothing has their own story.
What sort of life do they live? Are they paid a fair wage? What conditions do they work in? Try looking up the brand online to see if they provide any information on how they treat their workers.
When you think about how much work has gone into this single item of clothing, does it make you look at it differently? How?
Get in touch with us (@togetherstreet) and share your thoughts #TogetherStreetChallenge
Women prop up the fashion industry at both ends; its estimated that 80% of garment workers worldwide are female, and most fashion is aimed at and consumed by women. The Garment Worker Diaries is the result of a year-long project looking at the lives and wages of individual female garment workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia and India, where a huge amount of our clothing is produced. If you'd like an insight into the lives of real people at the other end of the clothing industry, this is a good place to start.
Don't just sit there, tweet something!
In April 2013 the Rana Plaza building containing five garment factories collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing and injuring thousands of workers. The Bangladesh Accord is a legally-binding agreement which was set up as a result. It's designed to ensure that brands play their part in making factories safe so that a disaster like Rana Plaza never happens again.
The current Accord comes to an end in May 2018 and a new agreement is due to take its place in June 2018. Many brands have already signed up, but there are still a lot of well-known brands like Next, Marks & Spencers (edit: since the beginning of the month, Marks'n'Sparks have signed up! Woop), Fat Face and Debenhams who haven't added their names (see the full list here)
You can take the simple action of tweeting any brand that hasn't signed up to encourage them to take action; it takes less than a minute and shows brands that their customers care about these issues. We’ve made it super easy for you - just copy and paste this tweet:
"The new @banglaccord comes into effect in a few weeks, @[insert brand], will you be signing up? @togetherstreet"
If you're not in the habit of getting your tweet on, sending a message to the brand's customer service team is just as good. Let us know if you get a response!