Let’s fix fashion!

I analysed the contents of my wardrobe yesterday. Well, just what’s hanging up (there’s a bit more that’s folded up in drawers), but it is an interesting collection. Out of a total of 41 garments: 16 were vintage, 8 were reproduction vintage, 13 came from independent brands, 9 were from the high street and 4 were hand made. In total 24 garments were purchased new, and 17 were purchased second-hand. That means 42% of my wardrobe that has been owned by someone before it reached me, and almost 10% was made by people who were being creative in their living room. That’s half of my clothing coming from sustainable and/or ethical sources. It should be simple enough to find out where the indie brands source their fabrics and make up their garments, but how would I know the source of the 22% that  was purchased from the likes of H&M and ASOS? How do I know if those garments are ruining the environment and people’s lives?

A group of consumers called the Fashion Mob, dismayed by continuing reports of abuses within the fashion industry, have launched an ambitious new campaign to try and “fix fashion”. The 1% Campaign is demanding that High Street brands invest a minimum of 1% of their profits in sorting out the problems in their supply chains. They are demanding:

  • A minimum of 1% investment, to include grants to help factory owners make the necessary changes to their workplaces.
  • More frequent and unannounced audits of factories
  • Better working with NGOs and trade unions to develop meaningful policies

Although many companies now have responsible sourcing policies, evidence exists that suggests they’re not working. Allegations about children working in factories making garments for household brands, and claims of abuses and slave-like conditions are rife. Fashion Mob Founder, Esther Freeman, said:

Many brands say they are trying, but how much time and money are they really spending on it? How does it compare, for example, with their PR budget? The 1% campaign aims to highlight the very minimum companies should be putting into tackling this issue. We need to fix this because lives are being ruined and people are dying.

The Fashion Mob will be approaching a number of companies over the next few weeks hoping to find High Street brands willing to sign up to the 1% campaign. For more information and to sign the petition, visit www.mswandas.co.uk/1percent. Maybe one day I won’t have to do any research to find the most ethical clothing retailers to buy from, as social and environmental responsibility will be a given. Until then, I will be supporting the 1% campaign.

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