Have you ever wondered you made your clothes? How much they’re paid and what their lives are like?
Following the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1138 people and injured many more in 2013, Fashion Revolution was born. The campaigners encourage each one of us to ask the brands we buy #whomademyclothes? By doing this we are demanding greater transparency in the fashion supply chain and therefore benefitting and safeguarding the lives of many.
Fashion Revolution is now a global movement of people like you and me.
Our clothes (and anything else for the matter!) have gone on a long journey before they become available for us to buy at the store. They pass through the hands of cotton farmers, spinners, weavers, dyers, sewers and others. According to the Fashion Revolution, approximately 75 million people work to make our clothes. 80% of them are women between the ages of 18 and 35. However, the majority of the people who make clothes for the global market live in poverty, unable to afford life’s basic necessities. Many are subject to exploitation; verbal and physical abuse, working in unsafe and dirty conditions, with very little pay.
I caught up with Tammy Fenech, a Maltese artisan and Fashion Revolutionista, whose passion lies in sustainable fashion and has recently completed an MA in Sustainability in Fashion from Berlin. Tammy worked with the Fashion Revolution team in Germany for two years in a row and found herself back in Malta during Fashion Revolution Week 2018 (23rd – 29th April). She was “itching to create some kind of event, and so it just made sense to be the country coordinator for Malta and officially bring the campaign to the island.”
After studying and living in Berlin, “the hub for sustainable fashion” according to her, she feels like consumer behaviour and awareness in Malta is still far behind, but growing and that we are heading in a good direction.
- She explains that “the complexities of the fashion industry coupled with the fact that fast fashion is so accessible and desirable makes it very hard for consumers to really grasp what goes on behind the making of their clothes leaving us to believe that quantity is better than quality. However, the awareness created through the fashion revolution campaign, and the fantastic response and feedback that came with it was more than I would have ever imagined. The realities of the industry are so harsh and shocking to some extents that once consumers find out a little information it is enough to create a curiosity that wants them to find out more. Instagram has also played a huge role in educating, in creating awareness and providing alternatives to consumers.”
Fashion Revolution Malta’s aim in the last year has been to create awareness and planting seeds needed for actual change to take place. “We started off with the screening of the True Cost last April, which is a highly recommendable film that gives a fantastic introduction and base behind the complexities of the industry; followed by a great panel discussion.”
I encourage you to follow the campaign to find out when next screenings will be and get involved in the conversation. “Our Instagram page is our main means of communication to our audience where we provide all sorts of information for consumers and designers allowing them to understand the different alternative decisions that can be made. Next year we also plan to work closely with local designers, allowing for their stories to be heard and understood better!”
As an artisan herself, Tammy is very positive about the artisan landscape in Malta: “It is definitively growing and becoming more appreciated, with events like the Malta Artisan Market and the general idea of festivals becoming more popular, it automatically opens consumers to a new way of shopping or a new perceived value of what we consume.”
Tamara’s favourite materials:
Silk, bamboo and ‘new age viscose’.
Viscose is a combination of natural and synthetic fibres; made from the cellulose of eucalyptus trees, combined with man-made fibres. She explains that viscose is known to be quite environmentally impactful, however, recent innovations made by the Austrian company Tencel, has allowed for a viscose process to be manufactured in a more friendly way through the utilisation of sustainable forestry together with their “closed loop” systems. This means that all water, dyes, chemicals etc. that are used during manufacture, are captured, treated and reused for the next batch of manufacture – basically nothing goes to waste, and the fibre can be easily recyclable (a major issue with a majority of modern fibres today).
“I love working with soft and flowy materials, for me, this is the tactile part of what makes me love fashion so much. I am fascinated by the way that soft and flowy materials play a dance with the body that creates a sense of mystery.”
What is the one thing you would tell your younger self?
“To not take life too seriously (something I still repeat to myself at this age)”
Start a conversation with the brands that you buy. Whether you are someone who buys and wears fashion (that’s pretty much everyone) or you work in the industry along the supply chain somewhere or if you’re a policymaker who can have an impact on legal requirements, you are accountable for the impact fashion has on people’s lives and on nature.
Join the Fashion Revolution and ask #whomademyclothes?
Find events around you from Fashion Revolution Official Site.