A Fashion Revolution
Right now I'm wearing a hand knitted jumper and socks. I made them both. The yarn from the jumper came from merino sheep in Uruguay, hand dyed and spun by a co-operative of 800 women.
The sock yarn in BFL - I think spun in either Australia or the UK as we don't have BFL sheep locally, and hand dyed by a friend who lives in another part of my city.
The jeans I'm wearing are second hand, designed by Grab Denim in Australia and made in China.
The singlet underneath the jumper is by AS Colour, a New Zealand-based basics brand that manufactures in China in ethically accredited factories.
Tomorrow is Fashion Revolution Day, marking the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster one year ago, where 1133 factory workers making high-street branded clothing died as the building they were working in collapsed. It's a day for us to think about what we're wearing and where it came from, who made it and in what conditions. It's a day to remind big labels that the people making their garments deserve safe working conditions and fair pay. Those brands are big business - it would be nice to see more of the profits going to the makers who are living and working in difficult environments.
It's no secret that I love clothes - anyone visiting here recently would've heard about my shopping trips and my current spending ban - but since I started knitting I've become more conscious of the whole process of clothing production and how much I'm consuming. For one thing - it just took me four months to knit a jumper. That is slow by any standard, let alone fashion's! If I was paid my current salary for the hours that went into making it, I could afford a nice holiday away somewhere (yes, I am that slow!).
It would have been a lot quicker to just go buy one, but I'd rather make it myself (if I can) than encourage big brands to continue unsustainable practices. The people who make our clothes in factories definitely don't have the luxury of time to spend on the little details. There are high quotas to meet every day to ensure brands get deliveries in time for fashion's crazy turnaround times.
Knitting has made me much more aware of the skills involved to create clothing, and I really do think clothes should be appreciated for the amazing art forms that they can be. I'm trying to be less disposable - buying second hand and vintage is something I really enjoy and that's less garments going to landfill. I do regular drop-offs to charity shops with things I'm no longer wearing.
Yes, there are some things that I can't go without. I'm not going to knit myself some undies. And sometimes you just need a cheap cardigan or a t-shirt that you don't mind ruining in the mad rush of life. But I'm continually looking for alternatives and will keep doing so until us consumers get more guarantees that our fast fashion brands are doing the best they can for all their staff - including all those manufacturing jobs they outsource.
If you've got a bit of time, check out this interactive doco over on The Guardian, very interesting and eye-opening. And if you want to get involved tomorrow for Fashion Revolution, take a picture of yourself wearing your clothes inside-out, post it on Twitter and Instagram tagged @Fash_Rev and #insideout and with what countries they were made in.