We need to talk about where our clothes come from. Have you seen the Fashion Revolution campaign showing who made your clothes? Most likely someone from the other side of the world if you’re based in the UK like us.
There are so many things to consider when we try to shop for more ethical clothes. It all becomes too much – especially because brands (and the whole fashion industry) are so reluctant to share any information that consumers can actually understand. It makes you just want to throw in the towel and buy whatever is being sold to you without thinking about it’s source. That’s how the garment industry is trying to make you feel!
They want to keep exploiting and making money, and in order to do that they have to convince you not to care, put the guilt on you till you get fed up and stop listening, or just make it impossible for you to find the information that you want.
But we need to keep fighting.
Most likely at least one thing you are wearing was touched by an exploited worker – be that someone living on hardly any money, a woman trapped into work by a marriage scheme or by threats of violence, a child labourer, a young independent designer that was ripped off and never paid or credited, an unpaid intern, even an 18 year old retail worker stuck in a job paying below minimum wage with no lunch break in their 8 hour, late night shifts, with no chance of mobility or promotion at work. The exploitation runs the whole way through the fashion supply chain.
And then you get onto the environmental impacts that one garment could have. The t-shirt you are wearing could have used an insane amount of water to produce – putting people and animals at risk, or polluted an insane amount of water – endangering those who rely on the water source, or even needed a tree to be knocked down and processed into viscose – destroying a natural habitat, peoples home and creating a ton of pollution in the process.
THEN you get onto the cultural impacts of fashion: it’s disproportionate effects on already marginalised or neglected groups, it’s exclusion of certain ethinicities in managerial positions, it’s cultural appropriation and exploitation, it’s non-inclusive runways and campaign shoots, it’s tokenism, it’s environmental impacts on struggling countries, it’s reinforcement of negative stereotypes and body image…..
Even for people trying to make it into the industry there’s an air of exclusion if you don’t have the look, the contacts, the followers, the money… unpaid internships slam the door of opportunities shut in the face of everyone who doesn’t live in a big city, have the money to support unpaid work, have the education and credentials to be accepted… hell, even applying to jobs or doing research is impossible if you don’t have a working computer with an internet connection as many people across the globe currently don't.
It’s exhausting, almost everywhere you turn someone is being fucked over and it seems like there’s nothing you can do about it. Even if you try there’s nowhere to find this information, and realistically even if you knew a cheap fast-fashion shop was doing something bad – if that’s all you can access and all you can afford then that’s what you have to purchase. And you shouldn’t be made feel guilty about that. Everywhere you turn brands claim to be ethical with one example of a well paid employee, or one small eco-line, totally greenwashing the 99% of their business that is totally destructive and evil.
We started our own brand (Monozygotics) to challenge all of these issues and to prove that if a tiny, 2-woman start up can take the economic hit of working by their morals – then there’s no excuse for big brands to keep pretending they can’t do the same. (spoiler alert : they 100% can) Transparency is so important even if brands just admitted they made a mistake, shared why they have to pay so little for their business to work (which we don’t believe tbh but at least some honesty about it would be nice!) or asked for feedback, it would be a step in the right direction. Instead they release lame statements of apology, or do one pathetic tokenistic action to 'make up for it'.
We know it's tiring. Seeing feminist t-shirt sewn by women and children in factories that exploit them, 'green lines' sold by brands who burn all the returns they receive, brands promoting diversity in their ad campaigns then harming their workers in developing countries and refusing to hire a diverse team at managerial levels - or just not paying the black models they used for their tokenistic campaigns. (this happens a LOT!)
And we ask that you do not let the industry wear you down. Don’t let them place their guilt on your shoulders, don’t let them exploit the people and planet, and don’t let them silence you. You aren't the villain, but you can be the hero.
It’s time we see some answers and some real changes.