I’ve been taking a free online course offered at the University of Exeter in association with the Fashion Revolution group, which was formed after the infamous Rana Plaza clothing factory collapse in Bangladesh five years ago. Through it I was hoping to learn more about how to become a better informed fashion consumer, how to advocate for workers through my shopping habits and information campaigns, how to communicate to a wider audience and with the fashion industry itself.
What I’ve learned so far: first and foremost, I learned that fast fashion companies are really trying to clean up their act, and many of the labels that were directly affected by the Rana tragedy have subsequently taken concrete steps towards improving workers’ conditions, and keeping consumers better informed about what they are doing better. Some have signed international agreements not to use child labor, and some have even incorporated garment repair at their retail shops for not only their garments, but any garment you want repaired as well! I’ve also learned that companies that claim to be completely invested in fair trade and ecologically sound fabric choices aren’t as whistle clean as they would have us think. Part of the problem is entrenched in the vastly interconnected process that fabric making is involved in, and part of it is due to lack of oversight and/or expectations of clarity by the consumer.
The good news is that for every request for clarity that a company receives, they count it as representing about 500 other customers who have the same question, but never got around to sending the email. Fashion companies are very responsive to customers’ needs, because they understand that this is a growing movement, and that listening to customers will prove beneficial in the long run, not only because it creates loyalty and satisfaction, but because it more often than not does not require additional expenditures of time or money! So if you have any concerns at all about the working conditions of the people making your clothes, or the environmental footprint fabrics used leave on our planet, don’t think twice about contacting the company to enquire about it! Even if they don’t reply, they will eventually realize that this is a serious concern, and will do something about it, even if just to be able to reply to future concerns!
The bottom line is this: we’re all in this together, from consumers, to retailers, to fashion labels, to workers; what each one of us does, actually makes a difference, so don’t be shy and contact your favorite label to ask #whomademyclothes !
I will write more about this in future posts, so subscribe to my blog in order not to miss any updates!
Until next time, happy emailing!