On April 24th 2013, 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed due to "structural failure" in Bangladesh. Considered the deadliest garment-factory accident in history, the Rana Plaza complex contained multiple clothing factories, shops, apartments and a bank, and housed employed around 5,000 people, many of whom worked in factories that manufactured apparel for Walmart, Primark, Benneton, Mango, Joe Fresh, and more. This tragedy sparked conversations all over the world about the treatment of garment workers and the awful conditions that so many of them are subjected to, thus spawning the Fashion Revolution. This year, Fashion Revolution week has but almost passed (April 18th to 24th), so there's still a bit of time to get yourself involved.
According to fashionrevolution.org, last year, tens of thousands of people in over 70 countries took part in Fashion Revolution Day. And to help spread word of this movement and help you get involved, we chatted with Calgary's fashion revolution coordinator, Morgan Hamel!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hello! I’m a mama of two girls, aged 3 years and 8 months. I became interested in slow fashion after taking a sewing class when my first daughter was 18 months old. I couldn’t believe how much work it took to make a garment from start to finish. Cutting the fabric, pinning it together, and sewing it stitch by stitch inspired me to think about where my clothes came from, and who made them. I became passionate about exploring the stories behind my clothes, and whether those stories matched up with the ones my favourite brands were telling.
2. Your Instagram bio says you're a capsule wardrobe chronicler. Can you tell us more about what that is?
For me, having a capsule involves having a relatively small number of clothes and swapping in a few new (or maybe old, just from storage) quality pieces with each new season. It’s about buying less, but buying better.
I was inspired to start a capsule wardrobe after reading about it on the blog Unfancy. I had had a closet full of clothes - many pulled from the sale racks at my local mall - yet not many quality pieces that I loved to wear.
Since starting my capsule wardrobe journey, I have more time, more money, and feel like I’ve truly come into ‘my’ style. I’ve also found a community of people who are united in a search for enduring value. We delight in asking questions, sharing ideas, and making purchases that are in line with our values.
3. How did you get involved with the Fashion Revolution?
I connected with Fashion Takes Action (the organization that leads Fashion Revolution Canada) via the www.fashionrevolution.com website. I was interested in what was going on in my city for fash rev week, and when they learnt more about my background in ethics, they asked if I would be the Calgary Coordinator. I have loved meeting new people in my city, and learning more about the fashion industry sprouting up here.
4. How do you define sustainability and why is sustainable fashion important to you?
Much of the fashion world today is fast. It’s trendy, it’s cheap. But buying that way comes with a cost. For me, sustainable fashion involves carefully considering every stage of the supply chain – from the environmental impact of fabrics that are used, to the treatment of people behind the sewing machines. But it’s also about the sustainability of the garments themselves. Case in point: about six months ago, I bought a pair of black leggings at a higher-end fast fashion store. They were on sale for $10. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they ripped after one wear. I recently invested in a Canadian made pair, crafted from sustainably milled bamboo rayon. They’re soft, beautiful, and I’m confident they’ll last for years.
5. Why is it so important to ask #WhoMadeMyClothes?
Having worked in the ethics department of a large corporation, I know that it is possible for companies to “care” about people. But it’s also easy for companies to get lost – for the people to disappear in the pursuit of profit. Asking the question #whomademyclothes lets brands know that their customers are paying attention, and gives them reason to reconsider where and how they make their clothes. It also inspires consumers who have never asked this question to wonder about the origins of the garments they wear every day.
I also love hearing the stories when brands answer the “who made my clothes” question. A favrourite character of mine from this year is Babu, a hand weaver from India, who makes clothes for the U.S. based Ace and Jig. According to Ace and Jig’s response, Babu is both “like family” to them and is “an executive with the company”.
6. How can others join the fashion revolution?
Fashion Revolution has amazing resources not only for brands, retailers, wholesalers and distributors, but also for farmers, producers, factories and consumers. One way I’ve chosen to continue the mission of fashion revolution is to embark on a six month #fastfashionfast – which means no fast fashion for me or my kids for six months. Feel free to follow along @thegarmentlife.
by Alyssa Lau
- April 23, 2016