Last month we welcomed two large annual events: Fashion Revolution and Earth Day.
Fashion Revolution is a collective of people from around the world who make the fashion industry work. They are designers, academics, writers, business leaders and more, they are people who wear clothes and who make your clothes. The revolution has been running for seven years, observed each year on the week of 24th April in memory of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1134 garment workers, and injured more than 2,500 others.
This disaster could have been avoided if basic occupational health and safety precautions were taken, and garment workers were not forced to return back to work after cracks were discovered in the factory walls. The catastrophic event has shone a spotlight on the fashion industry, prompting consumers to ask designers and companies “who made my clothes?’
Fashion Revolution draws attention to a brand’s transparency by inviting the customer to ask questions. By educating the consumer to look beneath the surface, it becomes more difficult for fast fashion to exist, as consumers and companies discover the true cost behind something which is perceived to be ‘cheap’.
At HEW, we believe every business has a responsibility to ensure that all workers are kept safe and paid a fair wage. Our factories in Melbourne are ECA certified and we visit our overseas factories every year to ensure ethical compliance is met.
Check out our factory video below
This year #whatsinmyclothes was introduced to encourage consumers to look at the make-up of fibres in the clothes they purchase. Over 60% of all clothing produced is made from synthetic fibres, which are extremely harmful to the environment. Synthetic materials are by-products of petroleum. They are non-biodegradable, and take a long time to decompose, creating long-term pollution. They also pollute our waters from washing microplastics down the drain and into our waterways. Other harmful chemicals from clothing production are from the dying process or other treatments that include toxic dyes, bleaching agents etc. If you consider these en masse, the damage can be devastating to the environment. The fashion industry has a long way to go when it comes to phasing out these synthetic fibres, which is why Fashion Revolution introduced #whatsinmyclothes to start the conversation for change and build consumer awareness to consider the fibres they are purchasing and putting on their bodies.
During the Fashion Revolution, we spoke to Rachel Kelly from Etu-Etu, an old friend and textile designer who we collaborated with on the ‘Hybrid’ range in 2017. It was great to have some insight into mass-produced clothing manufacturers. Rachel, who has previously worked at Country Road and Cotton On, shed some light on supply chains and waste.
Her own label Etu-Etu is produced from festival waste. Rachel showed us how she dismantles a tent and turns it into a high-end tote bag. If you missed it you can check out our live video here.
Our second guest was Kari from Slow Clothes. An advocate for ethical clothing, Kari has been supporting emerging local labels with her online store. She introduces a broader variety of Australian labels to the Adelaide community while educating her customers about sustainability. As a distributor, Kari spoke to us about the importance of supporting smaller labels during this crisis.
The last online event we were involved in was the Mend It Cafe, who had us as a guest to share the journey of HEW and our processes for minimising waste in production. I met Karen at my studio during a Mend-It Cafe event. Karen and her husband started some of the first ‘Mend it’ Cafes in Melbourne. The events usually run for a whole weekend and encourage people to bring appliances, clothing, anything from the home that needs fixing, to try and avoid putting it into landfill. You can check out our chat below