‘Who made your clothes?’ is a question that’s going to be gracing plenty of lips today as Fashion Revolution Day rears its (very elegant, eloquent) head. April 24th is the second anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh. Killing more than 1,000 garment workers, this devastating date is now firmly inked into the fashion calendar; a chance to both commemorate those whose lives were destroyed, and vocalise the very, very urgent need for change.
The premise is simple. So often we’re cut off from the realities of clothes production – rarely giving thought to the hands that cut, piece and stitch together all those garments we pick up on the shop floor. There’s a disconnect at the heart of fashion, with the relationship between creator and consumer rarely considered.
Peru Lata People Tree Tailor Rajlakshmi Delhi India
What is great though is the growing number of brands focusing in on those filaments and threads, the cord that binds sewing machinist to style conscious shopper. Within that emerging,ethical sphere, People Tree is something akin to the fairy godmother or grand dame of the industry. CEO Safia Minney has been campaigning for (and putting into action) more transparent supply chains for nigh on twenty years, creating clothes with conscience and social awareness. Pretty clothes too. A soldier print dress from their collaboration with Peter Jensen sits with great pride in my wardrobe. Minney is also a trustee of All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, caring also about the self-esteem of the women who wear the clothes.
All Walks Co-Founder Caryn Franklin supports the campaign
This year they’ve gone a step further too, giving some direct answers to that ‘who made your clothes?’ question. People Tree have put together a series of profiles on those they employ, sharing the names, faces, stories and locations of the individuals who create their garments. So much of the ‘stuff’ we buy – food, clothes, furniture – is essentially anonymous. We have no idea who assembled it. But here we have profiles of tailors, production managers, hand printers, fabric checkers and plenty of others in between. If anything, it makes you realise how many steps it takes to create a single item, how many eyes and hands sweep over that shirt or coat before it’s shipped off. There’s something refreshingly brilliant in it all, a kind of re-humanisation of the fashion industry – an awareness of the labour, craft and skill it requires to create clothes well. So join in on Fashion Revolution Day, take a selfie with the label of your clothes showing and tweet it to the brand, asking #WhoMadeMyClothes? All Walks Co-Founder Caryn Franklin is in; are you?
Words: Rosalind Jana
Rosalind Jana is reading English Literature at Oxford. She won the Vogue Talent Contest in 2011 at the age of 16, with a satirical take on an agricultural show written in ‘fashion show’ style. Visit Rosalind’s blog: Clothes, Cameras & Coffee