Any idea who made the clothes you’re wearing now? Not the brand name, but the people who really worked on your pullover, the training shoes or even your wedding dress? Why is it important to know? The Fashion Revolution movement provides the answer.
The real price of fast fashion
On April 23, 2013, more than one thousand people lost their lives when the Rana Plaza clothes factory in Bangladesh collapsed. The kind of people who make the clothes and accessories we wear every day. There was a court case following the tragedy, but not a single one of those responsible were ever sentenced. Everyone washed their hands of the matter.
Have you ever wondered how it is possible that you spend less on a clothing item in a sale than on lunch in a restaurant?
Sadly, there is no magic involved. To save money on the salaries and working conditions, many brands now outsource the work to distant countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia, where the workers, in many places children, pay a huge cost for our fashion craze. It is no accident these exploiting factories are known as “sweatshops”.
An average Bangladeshi clothes industry worker receives the equivalent of 44 English pounds a month which far from covers his needs. If they organize a protest for their rights, then the authorities react with crowd dispersal tactics, beatings and arrests, and the vicious circle continues.
Fashion Revolution: Fashion Revolution for ethical fashion
Fashion is not of itself an evil, dressing and style are part of the culture. The problem arises from the fact that this fast-growing giant is becoming less and less transparent. It is not an exaggeration to say that the fate of mankind and the future of our planet depends on this.
This thought and the 2013 tragedy were the starting point for the Fashion Revolution movement which is working around the world to make the fashion industry more ethical, more transparent and much fairer. Every year on the anniversary of the April 24th Bangladeshi tragedy they hold the Fashion Revolution Week when people are encouraged to ask their favourite brands, who made my clothes?
The majority of brands provide very little or no information to the customers regarding which conditions the clothes were made in. The movement has a hashtag: #whomademyclothes
The Fashion Revolution movement is absolutely not against fashion, but actually for fashion. One of the most important messages of the movement is “We love fashion, but not at the cost of people and the planet.
Who makes the Daalarna dresses?
After all that you must be curious to know what is the situation with us, here at Daalarna. Anita Benes, the brand’s leading designer, provides the answer. “My philosophy is that if I respect not only my own work but also that of my colleagues, then I have to create suitable working conditions for them. This approach is much more typical of the business world if for example, we compare how beautiful the banks or the Prezi offices are to a typical suburban dressmakers shop.
For me, the work of a dressmaker is just as valuable, or in my subjective opinion even more valuable, than that of a software engineer.
So even if I don’t put a beanbag in the dressmaker’s shop – the creative element of our work is brought to life with strong manual skills – I wanted to create an environment which inspires them and reflects how greatly they are valued. I believe that this shows in the final result.
We can read more and more about how badly multinational companies treat their employees in Asia and Africa. As a mother of three, I could not bear the thought of children sewing or beading my dresses in inhuman conditions, regardless of the financial benefits compared to maintaining a twenty person dressmaking shop in Budapest.
Many companies talk about fair trade business, but I think few of them deliver in practice. If there is an accident or a problem arises, then most of them deny responsibility. However, any big multinational could easily afford to build a dressmaking shop with normal conditions from their profits, yet they don’t do it.
I think it is important to make my dresses in Budapest, and to employ Hungarian people, I hope that this adds value to my dresses for others as well as for me.”
The people who sew the Daalarna dress
The photos below were taken in the Daalarna Budapest dressmaking shop, where the brand employs thirty people including the office staff. So here is the answer, these are the people who make the wedding and evening dresses. They cut, sew and decorate the clothes, so that each Daalarna bride can look absolutely radiant on her big day. (The photos show only part of the team.)
What can you do?
- Be a conscious consumer! Check out who makes the clothes that you buy. There are great telephone applications, for
exampleBuycott, and websites on the topic which provide more detailed information about a given brand.
- If you can’t find information about your favourite brand then ask them on Facebook or Instagram using the #whomademyclothes hashtag, or write a letter to them with the help of the website. Don’t think that you are a drop in the ocean: last year hundreds of brands replied to the customers’ questions, those that did not reply surely have their reasons…
- At a sale, ask yourself often: “Do I really need this?”
- For those of you are really interested in the topic it is worth watching
the TheTrue Cost titled 2015 documentary, which deals with the destructive effects of the fashion industry on the environment.