THE BLOG

We Need To Remember Our Connections To Ensure A Fashion Revolution

27/04/2017 13:18

As humans, we are reminded on a daily basis that we are all connected and that when we do something positive for another person, all parties reap the benefits.

This is the storyline of many Hollywood films, it can be found on the About Us pages on the websites of most multinational corporations and it's something education systems around the world aim to teach the next generation of children.

When you purchase an item of clothing, it follows that this simple action connects us to the farmer that grew the cotton, and the people that picked it, cleaned it, helped to weave the cloth, cut it and then sewed the pieces together to create the garment.

If we remember this connection then it should imply that we wish for each of the many people in that supply chain to have been treated fairly, paid a good wage for their work. We would surely wish for them the same rights and sense of stability that we wish for ourselves when we go to work.

But often, in reality, we are distracted from this truth. We have a multitude of media, social networks and real life problems to distract us in our daily lives. People remote from us get pushed far down our list of priorities.

After the Rana Plaza factory collapse, I read and heard a lot of positive things being said and written about the need for change. However, the conversations that stick in my memory are the ones that displayed that lack of understanding of the connection between producer and consumer. The cost of the finished product was more important than the story of how it was made. The people in the supply chain were rendered invisible and worthless.

Many in the industry felt that local governments should be dealing with these issues. That this was NOT OUR PROBLEM.

This, as Buddhists would have it, is bad karma. Nations can have karma too and if UK companies want their clothes for a tenth of the price we would have to pay someone here to do the same, while asking them to make it more quickly and taking a tick box interest in the conditions they work in, then this reflects badly on us as a nation.

Some of the brands like Matalan, Primark and Bonmarche that produced there are UK based while others like Benetton, Mango and Kappa are well known to British consumers.

I thought it was obvious that all of us in the UK are therefore connected to this and partly responsible. I thought it was obvious that the UK brands manufacturing at the Rana Plaza should do all they can to compensate the workers affected by the tragedy.

This kind of disconnection with our fellow human beings is prevalent across society right now. Whether you consider Brexit, Trump or Le Pen to be good or bad is irrelevant, they have all created divisions in families, communites and friendships across their respective nations. Division leads to further disconnection.

This week is a time for us to reflect on our connections. If we can feel we are part of one large human family, we can truly make better choices, strive to support brands that work ethically and push "conventional" brands to work harder at improving their supply chains.

With the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse marked by Fashion Revolution week, we must all once again ask brands #whomademyclothes?

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I am posting photos of the talented people in Outsider's supply chain on our blog and social media channels this week to help connect our customers to the makers of their styles.

By buying with a conscience not only do we ourselves benefit from a better product, but those involved in making the item were treated with the respect all humans deserve.

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