We asked our friends at Visible to share their ethical fashion story with us this week - #seeingisbelieving. And Click to watch : their story!
By Andy Lower
On April 24th 2013, 1,129 people died in the fire and building collapse at the Rana Plaza clothing factory in Bangladesh. While this number of people dying in one single event would have been justifiable to start a war, this was just one of the consequences of modern day fast fashion. Although we felt bad our normal pattern would have been to turn off the TV and continue with our consumer habits. This time though, we committed to be different and we decided to go all in.
Due to economic circumstances, sweatshop workers have little choice but to carry on working in unfair working conditions. Yet we as consumers have a choice – do we choose to buy clothing made in line with our values or not? It is as simple as that – black and white. It was hard to find fairly-made clothes; even when they could be found they were normally too expensive for what we perceived to be a good price. We had been frustrated that there was a lack of choice; and most of the fairly made clothes that we had seen were simply not fashionable.
We decided that the only way that we were going to force ourselves to overcome these excuses was to go all in. We went through our whole wardrobe and gave away everything that we didn’t know had been made by people who were treated fairly and we were left with our birthday suit and not much else. It was therefore naked or bust as we tried to build a new wardrobe from scratch containing only fairly made clothes.
We only bought clothes made by organisations that convinced us they had a DNA of fairness, treating workers in the developing world in a way which we felt was in line with our values. We also didn’t want to break the bank, buying new clothes at an affordable price while maintaining a relatively normal look.
It was hard work. Really really hard work.
Yet it was a fascinating learning experience as we spent hours trying to educate ourselves about the clothing sector. We learned more about the dark and murky world that is just underneath the surface of the clothes that we wear, and we spoke with victims who were oppressed in the fast fashion sector, oppressed, because we had failed to take the time to think through the consequence of clothes being produced so cheaply for us.
At the same time, we were also impressed and encouraged to hear more about the positive impact we could have, as we learned more about whole communities lifting themselves out of the trap of extreme poverty when they are paid fairly and treated with dignity.
It felt great to not only look good but also to feel good, wearing clothes that we wanted to be seen in – not just good on the surface but good on the inside. What we experienced convinced us that more could be done, and as social entrepreneurs, we couldn’t help but see a massive opportunity.
So, we decided to set up a new clothing label called Visible – an online shop selling fun yet affordable clothes made by people who are treated fairly. Follow our journey and make consumer choices that have a positive impact at http://visible.clothing/