Who MadeMy Clothes?
Who produces what we buy and wear? And under which conditions?
Answering these questions is essential to ensure a better future for the fashion system, for its workers and for our planet. Fashion Revolution Week invites all of us to reflect on these issues every time we make our purchasing choices.
The Fashion Revolution Week takes place from 19 to 25 April 2021. The period is not accidental: every year this global event includes April 24, to commemorate the collapse of Rana Plaza, happened in 2013 on this date. The Rana Plaza building was located in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh: it was a large factory where clothes were manufactured at a fast pace, to be sold in Western shops. Over the years the building had undergone some illegal expansion work, which had brought the original five floors to eight. On 23 April 2013, cracks were discovered in some of the building’s supporting columns: the building was declared unsafe and workers were sent home. During the night, however, a second inspection overturned the decision and the workers were returned. The next morning the building collapsed, killing more than 1,138 people and injuring over 2,000. The initial demonstrations of the textile workers subsided within a few days and only a few brands directly involved with Rana Plaza granted compensation: one of the worst accidents that ever involved a clothing factory led to practically no change in the fast fashion system.
Just in 2013, following the Rana Plaza accident, however, the Fashion Revolution movement was born, whose eloquent mantra is
Who Made My Clothes?
Fashion Revolution Week is precisely the week chosen to make the voice of this global community even more heard. This year, the focus is on the close connection between human rights and natural rights, and on the need for a change in relations between brands, which should move from a principle of competition to one of collaboration to face the future challenges of the sector. But also of the relationships between brands and suppliers, for greater protection of workers and the planet along the entire production chain.
As consumers, when we choose to buy a dress or accessory we should learn to look beyond style, colors or price and instead start asking ourselves Who Made My Clothes? Who and what is behind what we buy?
To begin to better understand what lies behind the world of fast fashion, we recommend that you visit the Be Conscious section of our site. Here, in fact, we wanted to tell what happens before an item of clothing or an accessory arrives in the hands of a consumer, analyzing the production chains of the traditional and eco-sustainable fashion system: because what you buy can be similar to appearance, but it certainly isn’t looking deeper. The conditions of workers are precisely one of the elements that we have analyzed, telling what happens in the textile factories of the southern hemisphere: not only those of low-cost brands, but often also those of high fashion brands, which we less commonly associate with phenomena such as labor exploitation.
Who Made My Clothes? it is therefore a question that we should always ask ourselves, not only in the face of low or heavily discounted prices. But how can we find the answer?
A first concrete help for consumers is represented by certifications: the small symbols shown on the labels, which we may not often pay attention to, tell the story behind the item of clothing we are deciding whether to buy or not. Often the answer to the question Who Made My Clothes is right here.
Also the Fair Wear certification helps answer the question Who Made My Clothes?: the Fair Wear Foundation aims to improve working conditions in the fashion sector in 11 production areas in Asia, Europe and Africa. The brands that adhere to this organization therefore demonstrate that they want to produce in an ethical and responsible way.
Finally, also the GOTS certification, although it has a focus on guaranteeing the origin of natural fibers from organic farming, also monitors the ethical aspect of the production chain, ensuring products made by people who work in decent conditions and who receive adequate pay.
Many of the brands you find in our directory enjoy these certifications and ensure that the items purchased have been produced in decent working conditions and respecting the safety of workers.
When you choose one of these brands, the question Who Made My Clothes never brings bad surprises and you can be sure that your purchase contributes to supporting an ethical and responsible way of working.
An example is Aequae, an Italian brand based in Milan: right here, in the Italian city always on the run par excellence, seamstresses and pattern makers work without haste in a widespread way in a “studio without walls”, dedicating time and care to their creations. The story of Aequae begins with the idea of two friends, Salima and Vittoria, who, in contrast to the traditional fashion system, wanted to create a brand whose clothes and accessories were the result of multiple experiences, styles and traditions and which convey the value of time spent to imagine and make them. The actual production starts from recycled materials and production waste to which new life is given: discarded fabrics, soft silks, warm wools, Flanders tablecloths, old lace, scraps from archives, fabrics donated and recovered by textile companies and particularly pre-loved used clothes. From these recovered quality fabrics, with different histories and ages behind them, unique creations are born in which no detail is left to chance, designed to reflect the personality of the women who choose them and to last over time. Aequae’s creations, in fact, are conceived to be transgenerational and to dress women of any age who want to depart from the logic of fast fashion and declare their independence from the short life cycle of traditional fashion. The garments of the brand are designed to never be out of fashion: thanks to the time it took to create them, they will not age in a few seasons.
“Sustainable garments and accessories made with what we already have. Dresses that convey the value of the time needed to be made: an alchemy of personal experience, style and artisan tradition. "
Precisely the enhancement of time is one of Aequae’s strengths: in a world where fast fashion is increasingly pervading, this brand proposes an exactly opposite process. In fact, alongside some ready-to-buy items available on the online shop, Aequae also offers the Couture@home service, a new slow and thoughtful purchase method, which is based on a direct comparison between customer and seamstress. In a first cognitive meeting, the model that best corresponds to the customer’s needs, fit and personality is identified. The fabrics are then chosen, possibly including one coming from a used garment that has a personal value, and the details of the dress are selected. The finished dress is then delivered directly to the customer’s home and is a truly unique piece, able to reflect the personality of the woman for whom it was created. Aequae, in short, tells of a timeless fashion: without frenzy in the creation of garments, without items that go out of fashion in a few years (or even less) and in which recycling and giving the right time to the creative process are the masters. All features evident, for example, in the Chicca oversize dress made of denim, boiled wool and cool wool: some of the fabrics are recycled and come from the brand’s archives and from the recycling of some used clothes of Vera, the seamstress who hand-sewed this dress. The dress can be ordered as it is, directly from the online shop, or it can be used as a basis of inspiration to create a model from scratch created to order specifically on the customer’s requests. The ready-to-buy garment, in addition to being sustainable and sewn with love, is full of personality, thanks to unique details such as the puffed sleeves curled on the cuffs and the gritty yellow armholes. An emblematic example of what can be created when a dress is sewn slowly, with love and passion, and not with a chain production logic.
Another clothing brand that gives precise answers to the question Who Made My Clothes? is Jyoti Fair Works, an Indian-German brand that exclusively produces clothing and accessories that are sustainable from a social and environmental point of view. The brand’s goal is to make consumers happy, but also all the people who work along the production chain, from farmers to weavers to those who take care of the packaging of the product. All clothes are produced in three workshops in South India, in collaboration with local NGOs. The workers are all socially disadvantaged women, who can thus rely on stable employment that guarantees them training, health care and fair wages. The remaining phases of the production chain are managed in collaboration with cooperatives and small family businesses in respect of the environment. All garments are of good quality and with classic and timeless styles, designed to last for years. Furthermore, careful use of resources is made in production, limiting waste as much as possible. This brand believes in transparency as the first step to change the fashion system, wondering how it is possible to make it more sustainable and fair: by buying on their shop you can be sure to buy exactly what you see and what it’s told. Here you will find men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, as well as many different accessories such as jewelry, bags, scarves and home textiles.
When shopping for the little ones, the questions you ask yourself are often more numerous: will this fabric be suitable for their delicate skin and repeated washing? Will this garment stand up to outdoor play days? But never stop wondering Who Made My Clothes? too. Also, in this case in our directory you will find many brands that can do for you, such as for example Wooly Organic. This Latvian brand has made local production one of its great strengths: production takes place in family environments and employing properly trained and paid staff. The entire production chain uses only materials produced in Europe by carefully selected suppliers. The purpose of the brand is to be able to carefully balance the economic, social and environmental aspects of the activity: in addition to a great attention to workers and local production, in fact, only organic materials are used, such as cotton and fiber corn. To reduce waste and facilitate the reuse of products, all clothing items are unisex, simple and timeless, to be able to pass from child to child. On the shop, in addition to clothing for babies and children, you will find accessories and toys.
“Wooly Organic is my third child, grown with passion and with strong values in mind – go green, love design and stay local”.
Who Made My Clothes? for you is an important question in any context, even when you are looking for sportswear or yoga wear? Also, in this case we can recommend many ethical and sustainable brands, such as for example Mandala, a German yoga clothing brand that combines eco-sustainability and ethical aspects. Only sustainable fabrics are used for clothing, such as organic cotton or Tencel. Production takes place in Turkey and China, ensuring high working standards and decent wages and employing mainly women, who often leave in disadvantaged conditions in these parts of the world. The brand periodically visits the production sites to ensure compliance with high ethical standards and create stable and lasting relationships with its suppliers. Thus, on the Mandala shop you will find eco-sustainable, practical, comfortable clothing that is good for those who work along the production chain!
Who Made My Clothes? however is not limited to clothing: we should also ask ourselves Who Made My Jewels, Who Made My Shoes? and so on.
That is why in our directory you will also find many brands of accessories that guarantee high ethical standards. This is the case, for example, of Wild Fawn, a British brand dedicated to jewels, which are handmade in London on request to avoid any possible form of waste. All the mineral used (gold and silver) is recycled or extracted in an ethical and responsible way. All the precious stones are also traced, to be sure that no element present in the jewels comes from a production chain that exploit workers. From the selection of materials to local production, everything is carefully checked, so that you can be sure that you are buying sustainable and ethical jewelry.
Another example of a non-clothing brand that still tries to answer the question Who Made My Clothes? is Ecodream, an Italian brand specializing in bags, backpacks and accessories made with upcycled and recycled materials. All production takes place in Italy and is artisanal. The brand strongly adheres to the values of the Fashion Revolution, with the aim of helping to create a more ethical and sustainable future. The production takes place in the province of Florence, between important textile and leather goods districts: these territories allow to locally produce high quality materials in an artisanal way, but also generate numerous scraps and inventories that brands like Ecodream can use to give them new life into new products. In contrast to the traditional fashion industry, which increasingly produces in an outsourced and delocalized way, exploiting those countries where labor costs less, Ecodream has decided to produce only locally, relying on the craftsmanship present in the area.
In our directory you can find many other brands like these, which have put the protection of workers at the center of their business model.
We at Sustainable Gate also recently produced a line of clothing and accessories, choosing to rely on a partner who respects these principles.
Our products, which you can find here, are made in partnership with Teemill, which uses for sweatshirts, t-shirts and bags exclusively organic cotton woven in factories that provide vertical integration of the various processing phases, allowing to generate savings which are then reinvested in the facilities. All with respect for workers along the entire production chain, who are offered working conditions and decent wages. So, when you buy Sustainable Gate products, you make many good choices in one: support your favorite sustainable fashion directory, buy something that conveys the values you believe in at a glance, and buy garments that are good for the environment and community in which they are created.