Fashion Revolution Week was April 24-30, and I made this project during that week, but I just had not photographed it or blogged about it until now. Only a month late!
Fashion Revolution is a movement to raise awareness about the human and ecological impact of the clothing industry. http://fashionrevolution.org/
Fashion Revolution Week happens on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, where 1,138 garment workers in Bangladesh were killed and many more injured on 24th April 2013. more than half the victims were women. The day before the collapse, large cracks were showing, but the next day, garment workers were ordered to return to work or else they'd be docked a month's pay. The clothing sweatshops in the building made clothes for many brands, including cheap fast-fashion brands Primark, Walmart, and more expensive brands like Benetton. People often think that more expensive brands of clothing will have better worker pay and working conditions, but it's not always true.
The hashtag #whomademyclothes is used on twitter for consumers to ask various brands for transparency about their production.
In addition to the poor working conditions of many garment workers around the world, there are large ecological issues with the entire fashion industry. Even if the workers are well paid and have safe conditions, the clothing and textile industry produces very much chemical waste and pollution. The entire life cycle of a garment (from growing the cotton, milling the fabric, dyeing, cutting and sewing) consumes so much water. It takes around 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to produce just one pair of jeans.
With the current sped-up fashion cycle where trends only last a few months and clothing is so cheap, clothing is purchased and quickly thrown away in huge quantities. Americans alone throw away approximately 14 million tons of garments each year, and most of this does not decompose in landfills because even if it's biodegradable (like cotton), it is usually inside plastic bags or does not receive enough oxygen to break down. Clothing is not frequently recycled, and it's a difficult process when a single garment may be a blend of different fibers. It's not like aluminum cans where you can just melt it all down.
I also recommend the movie called "The True Cost" , about the fast fashion/disposable fashion problem.It's on Netflix and Youtube.
I've drastically cut back the amount of clothing I buy, but I do still like to make clothes, it's a creative outlet even if I don't always need more clothes. Even though homemade clothes are not exploiting workers, there is still the issue of the fabric, where was it made, etc. Fabric production has the same ecological issues as clothing production. So my project for Fashion Revolution week used my own labor and used scrap fabric that I had left over from older projects. The scraps weren't big enough to make a whole garment from, but I combined a solid knit with a floral knit to make this top. It's a simple cap sleeved top but the fabric splicing gives it more visual interest than a T-shirt.