Two fashion entrepreneurs are turning the industry inside out by asking difficult questions.
Do you know who made your clothes; who grew the cotton, spun the threads, dyed the fabric and sewed them together? Orsola de Castro and Carry Somers (pictured below) are bringing the hidden people behind what we wear into the public eye – from the cotton farmer, seamstress, knitter and weaver to the factory worker.
Today their Fashion Revolution is a global movement across over 90 countries that throws light on fast fashion, asks difficult questions and campaigns to stop bad practices. But it’s not just for one week every April that fashion and ethics to go hand in hand.
The pair invited us to enter the worlds of garment workers in Bangladesh and to the cotton farms in Egypt with their Top 5 projects.
1. Sex and garment workers: life thru her lens
“To be able to SEE what women garment workers’ real life looks like from their point of view (literally) is a wonderful way to create empathy and understanding. As people we are all different, but all equal. We tend to forget this. Lensational helps us remember.”
Hong Kong-born Bonnie Chiu is inviting everyone to step into the worlds of garment workers in Bangladesh, sex workers in Pakistan and domestic workers in Hong Kong, by allowing us to see into their real lives through their eyes – literally. Lensational is uniquely placed to ensure that women and girls’ experiences during this coronavirus crisis are documented.
2. Make high end couture from your junk
“At a time when the whole world seems hell bent on throwing away, we love those pioneering souls who do the opposite. Collecting rubbish and transforming it is not just fun and creative, it should become a political statement. Encouraging school kids to take responsibility is totally the right way forward for a cleaner future.”
Imagine a phoenix rising from the ashes. But it’s made from 12,072 homemade paper feathers, painted, cut out and trimmed to appear as realistic as possible – and designed by a 16-year old.
Fashion competition Junk Kouture is all about using recycled materials – challenging young people to design, create and model high end couture from everyday junk. It takes in elements of fashion, design, engineering and environmental sustainability and transforms them into a globally recognised creative contest.
3. Supporting the Children of Garment Workers
“Female garment workers work long hours and are seriously underpaid, especially in Bangladesh. TRAID’s initiative helps to ensure their kids are in a safe environment whilst their mothers are at work. We all know how important good childcare is and often take it for granted. We applaud them for this initiative.”
“A super-advanced project that encompasses so many different aspects of sustainability, both socially via education and fair wages and environmentally, from organic seed to sustainable manufactured yarns. We admire Cottonforlife and will continue to work closely with them.”
“Women’s education is at the heart of everything: empowering women and young girls should be a global priority. When it comes to who makes our clothes, 80 percent of garment workers are female, often exploited and underpaid. We love this project that provides women in Bangladesh with free education.”