Who Made My Clothes

April 23, 2018



Do you ever wonder who made your clothes? Most of us, at least in the not so distant past, have visions of content people sewing or knitting our clothes, tanning our leather goods or even growing our cotton. Or, maybe we don’t think of it at all. The sad reality is that as consumer demand for cheaper products increased, the production of those items was sent overseas to factories where many of the garments were, and continue to be, massed produced by overworked and underpaid workers in sometimes unsafe factory conditions. To learn more, you can read Oxfam’s report on Living wages and poverty in the Fashion Industry.

Every April, the often overlooked social injustices of the fashion industry are brought to the public’s attention during a weeklong awareness campaign. The #whomademyclothes campaign takes place around April 24, the date of the tragic Rana Plaza Garment Factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013. One of the deadliest garment factory disasters in history, and the fourth largest industrial disaster ever (wiki source), the Rana Plaza collapse killed 1138 garment workers and injured more than 2500. Despite noticeable cracks in the walls of the building the day before the collapse, the garment workers were ordered to return to work the next day or they would lose a month’s pay. As a result of this tragedy and increased international pressure, there have been increased safety checks of garment factories worldwide, prompting many factories to close.

A response to this tragedy was the creation of Fashion Revolution, a not-for-profit organization based in the United Kingdom. Co-founders Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro created the organization as a way to scrutinize fashion industry practices and raise awareness of the most pressing issues. 

The ultimate goal of the #whomademyclothes campaign is to bring awareness of the poverty and exploitation of factory workers and the unregulated environments in which they work. The organization encourages everyone to get involved by asking your favorite brands and retailers #whomademyclothes through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any social media platform, as well as writing postcards to policy makers. The goal being greater transparency in the global fashion supply chain. We can also demand that more thought and responsibility be put into the process of making the items – right from growing the cotton to finishing the product.   

Another useful tool is the Good On You App.  They rate common household brands, as well as smaller lesser known brands in the areas of labor, environment and animal welfare.  You can find out more about this app here.

We should strive to see tangible improvements or “documented” changes in the industry.  The Stern Center for Business and Human Rights at NYU is working to create high standards in business that do not impede on basic human rights.  Following the Rana Plaza disaster, they published a 32 page report on where Bangladesh stands now and what still needs to be done to make the industry more ethical. 

How will you participate in Fashion Revolution Week?


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