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Sasstainable for Fashion Revolution Day 2014

FRD2014InsideOutWhoMadeYourClothes2

Wearing our clothes #insideout for Fashion Revolution Day

Today, I’m wearing my shirt #insideout for Fashion Revolution Day. The tag is sticking up. Thousands of people around the world are looking decidedly dishevelled to join a global movement for transparency, turning their clothes inside out in solidarity for a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure.

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Who made your clothes? We ask the question in the interests of transparency, for the millions of garment workers around the world. In the global garment industry, very few of us actually know who makes our clothing. I often have no idea. And, why should it matter? From a fast fashion consumer perspective our (predominantly inexpensive) clothing appears as if out of thin air, with the latest trends lining our shelves and closets. Cheap. Disposable? But that’s just it: somewhere, someone cuts each pattern, sews every seam, adds every button. People make our clothes. Sadly, their pay is often too cheap and they are frequently treated as if they are disposable.

Search #insideout and discover how many people want to know where their clothes come from and why it matters.

Who made your clothes? It sounds like a simple enough question. It’s an important one. Especially as today marks the first anniversary of the tragic death of 1129 people at Rana Plaza, in Bangladesh.

I was living in London when the terrible news about Rana Plaza shocked the world. The networks sent their reporters to cover what quickly became one of the deadliest accidents in history. I felt dismayed as the death toll continued to rise in the days that followed.  More than 2000 workers were injured. Companies were quickly implicated, including the popular Canadian brand Joe Fresh. When their hangtags were discovered poking out of the rubble at Rana, I felt sick. I only owned two items from Joe Fresh. I ran to our bedroom and ransacked my dresser drawers to pull out those pieces. One was made in Bangladesh – a cheap and cheerful impulse buy I made when I was having a bad day earlier that spring. I couldn’t help but wonder if any of the  people pinned and injured under the weight of the wreckage had sown together my shorts. It was a sobering moment; one I feel ashamed of to this day.

I skipped the Joe Fresh show at World Mastercard Fashion Week here in Toronto. I couldn’t reconcile the runway with the rubble. Their parent company, Loblaw, has contributed to the trust fund for the workers and families of Rana Plaza and signed the legally binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. I’m waiting to see what will become of Joe Fresh as a brand. And during the last year, like many others, I have felt compelled to take action to try to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.

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So today, I’m wearing my shirt #insideout. The tag is sticking up. It reads “Made in Bangladesh.” But this time, it’s something I can celebrate. I can watch videos of the garment workers who made it and read about their fair trade factories and farms. People Tree designed and produced this shirt in accordance with ethical and sustainable principles. I can trust their transparency, and I love their design collaborations. This movement is about doing good, looking good, feeling good and even making good money. It’s a call to action for designers, brands, stylists, writers, and regular folk, really anyone who shops, ever. Go ahead and count the tags on our clothing, we’ve turned them #insideout. We want to know where they came from, that’s what we’re about.

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About the Author

Angela is founder and editor of Sasstainable, an insider voice on sustainable lifestyle and ethical luxury. She serves on the board of directors for Toronto Zooshare Biogas Co-operative. In 2013, she completed her MSc in Environmental Management at the University of London, at the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy. Her passion for the environment grew out of her family's rural property in Raglan, Ontario, now a designated Natural Heritage System area in the Ontario Greenbelt. In 2009, she was granted Ryerson University's Top 30 Under 30 Alumni award, because of her work as a motivational speaker, in partnership with Participant Media and Me to We. She inspired over 30,000 high school and university students across North America. She is a published writer, contributing articles to Geez Magazine, Eluxe Magazine and Feelgood Style, among others. She enjoys fashion, cooking, art and yoga. She currently lives in Toronto, Canada, with her daughter, Charlotte.
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