It can be intimidating and it can certainly be overwhelming. But we all have to start somewhere. So we invite you to start with us, on the journey to bring justice in fashion.
On behalf of the whole Justice in Fashion (JIF) team, we are happy to welcome you to the first article in our blog.
The intention of this blog is to offer a reliable resource you can turn to at every stage of our common journey. Orsola de Castro, a co-founder of Fashion Revolution says: the fashion industry affects 100% of the population. Thus, our journey has to involve everyone, from fashion brands, governments to consumers. To remain truly open, our blog is imagined as a space to tell stories and bring a critical view of current events and changes in the fashion industry.
As the world goes through constant change, accelerated by Covid-19, our responsibilities change with it. It is imperative that we all move forward together. In times of crisis and uncertainty, we can forget to look after one another and instead seek to exploit those who are in the worse position than us, whether knowingly or not. One sector that has grown massively in terms of exploitation is the fashion industry.
The lack of transparency and available information is what makes the exploitation possible. A great open-source article by LeBaron, Kyritsis, Thibos, and Howard reminds us that a ‘typical computer’ has multiple pieces sourced from all around the globe. The majority of the pieces are sourced from low-wage countries such as the ‘memory chip from Malaysia, battery from Indonesia... and a hard drive made from Thailand’. The same global trade also occurs in the fashion industry, with the materials for fabrics sourced in one place, garments often produced across several factories, and transported to the warehouses and shops on the other side of the world.
What is hidden in this global trade is the reality of the workers in the industry. The workers behind globally sourced pieces (whether it is in tech, fashion, or something else) work long tiresome hours for less than a living wage. How do we expect them to pay for those same daily necessities with that?
The pandemic opened a space for us to reflect on our current situations in the world. We started thinking about how we treat one another, what we consume globally, and what our top priorities should be. During the lockdown, many (we included) have been doing just this. We started researching and educating ourselves on how female garment workers across the globe are being treated. We started to question the morality of investments and organizations. And we started to understand that the workers are the key actors in the fashion industry.
A need to do better became very clear in the past months. Organisations and individuals started questioning the industry and urging the investors and brands to reflect on their decisions. It became clear that the decisions of those in power matter to all of us and they should reflect the society we all want to live in.
This is where JIF was born. We want to acknowledge this disproportionality and work towards aligning the current imbalances. Standing together with them, we help deliver justice for all workers (primarily women) who are not paid the wages they deserve. For most of us, a piece of clothing helps complete a look, make a statement, or is just something to keep us clothed. However, for the women making the item, it is their way of life. It is their only income to support their families. The big brands are denying them this by not paying them the appropriate wage. And we have been subconsciously allowing this to happen, but not anymore! JIF aims to give women a safe platform to speak up, we are endeavouring to give voices to the voiceless.
With a simple thought “look after your workers and they will look after you” in our minds, we are opening this space for dialogue and exchange.
Bela & Tena (in the name of the JIF team)