Fashion Question Time at the V&A 2019

 Tomorrowland: how innovation and sustainability will change the fashion panorama.

On Wednesday, 24th April 2019, Fashion Revolution hosted our fifth annual Fashion Question Time, a powerful platform to debate the future of the fashion industry during Fashion Revolution Week. This year Fashion Question Time was hosted for the first time at the V&A museum and opening the event up to the public for the first time. The theme this year was Tomorrowland: how innovation and sustainability will change the fashion panorama.

Chaired by Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey, this year’s panel brought together leading figures across government and the fashion industry to discuss the future of the fashion industry.

Attendees included high-level fashion industry representatives from across the sector, global brands, retailers, press, MPs, influencers, and NGOs. Panelists included Mary Creagh, MP and Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee; Laura Balmond, Project Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation; Mark Sumner, Lecturer in Sustainability, Fashion & Retail, University of Leeds, and Hendrik Alpen, Sustainability Engagement Manager, H&M Group.

After a welcoming speech from Tim Peeve, an opening speech was made by Sarah Ditty, Policy Director for Fashion Revolution:

“There is an ocean of truth lying undiscovered before us when it comes to the fashion industry of tomorrow. We urgently need to focus on innovation and we need sustainability to be scaled up.”

Below we have selected some questions and answers that were discussed over the 1 hour ½ debate during Fashion Question Time 2019 at the V&A:

Olivia Shaw, Campaign Support Officer for #LoveNotLandfill and London Waste & Recycling Board asked:

“In a world with finite resources, why does the fashion industry waste around three quarters of what it creates and how are we going change this model to create a fair system for all?”

Laura Balmond, Project Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation: It’s not possible to continue as we go on… The amount of clothes produced is rapidly increasing – and we are using clothes 40% less.  Less than 1% of materials are going back into fashion we make… We need a huge systemic rethink .. I believe that the circular economy will be business-led. We need businesses to get behind this common vision… The current system doesn’t work. The leaders will continue to push ahead – will the others exist in 5 years time?

Mark Sumner, Lecturer in Sustainability, Fashion & Retail, University of Leeds: Technically there are lots of solutions but there’s no motivation… We have the opportunity to change this and legislation plays an important role. The fashion industry has been around for thousands of years. It plays an important role in self-esteem and identity, plays an important part in our lives. But we can’t stick with the model we have at the moment, we need to change. The Modern Slavery Bill is a good starting point but we need more legislation. More innovative structures in place to penalise businesses – the responsibility needs to be across the whole system.

Mary Creagh, MP and Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee: The current fashion industry model promotes over consumption and under utilisation. My concern is that the policy space in this country, which has historically been a leader on these issues, has been crowded out by the Brexit psychodrama and the space for creative and necessary responses to this is being handed to us. We’re in a unique situation where the public is dragging the Government. We debated the environment twice in Parliament twice yesterday so things are changing but we all need to think about our overconsumption… We also need to strengthen regulation to require greater executive level accountability for tackling modern slavery and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in business and supply chains.

Hendrik Alpen, Sustainability Engagement Manager, H&M Group: Moving to a circular model makes business sense. Right now, H&M operates one of the biggest global take-back schemes.

 

Sarah Ditty, Fashion Revolution, Policy Director on behalf of Labour behind the Label asked:

The one safety initiative that came out of the Rana Plaza collapse, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, is at risk of being expelled from the country at the moment, putting all the progress made in the last six years at risk. At the moment over 50% of the factories still lack adequate fire alarm and detection systems and 40% are still completing structural renovations, these life-saving remediations need to be overseen by the Accord. With the Accord under threat, how can innovations in transparency create a better future for garment workers? 

Laura Balmond, Project Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation: With innovations around transparency, relies purely on the information that is inputted at the very beginning. So, this then raises the question of how do we verify that and how do we ensure the information you are receiving is correct? Therefore, what are the financial incentives to improve the system? We must incentivise accurate data inputting.

Hendrik Alpen, Sustainability Engagement Manager, H&M Group: The Accord is a very well working mechanism. So, we as a brand, and other brands hope it will continue. Last year 98% of our suppliers were compliant with the Accord’s requirements, and this year, it will be 100% compliance. You talk about incentives, so that’s a sort of incentive we can create to get something back for the work we are investing, besides, you know, it’s the right thing to do. This can also create a level playing field between brands and this is very crucial to make informed choices.

Mary Creagh, MP and Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee:

The real costs of what goes into those clothes are not truly priced. We will only have change if we price clothing based on the material, the labour, and carbon emissions. Those costs are currently passed onto the countries of production… Currently, it’s down to little NGOs to police big brands. Footlocker doesn’t provide an anti-slavery statement on their website, for example… We must make accountants and CEOs accountable for slavery and emissions. Anyone with a pension fund can buy shares in a business, and as a shareholder, you can go to AGMs and to put pressure on these brands.

Sara Arnold of Extinction Rebellion asked:

To have a chance of avoiding the worst effects of the climate and ecological collapse, we must get to net zero carbon by 2025 and halt the loss of biodiversity. The mobilisation we need is unprecedented and as an industry, we should be declaring climate and ecological emergency and acting as so. If this was treated as the emergency that it is, would there be any place for fast fashion? Would there be a place for fashion at all?

 

Hendrik Alpen, Sustainability Engagement Manager, H&M Group: Obviously, it is hard to say we shouldn’t exist! But I can relate to the thoughts. So, our job is to reduce the impact of what we do. So that’s why we set the goal to be climate positive by 2040, that may be too late, but we are discussing timelines. We have made changes across our stores, and office to be powered by renewable electricity. So, the challenge we have is how do we bring that into the supply chain? And our first goal is to have a climate neutral supply chain by 2030. That’s a huge challenge, we don’t know how to do that, but that’s the challenge we are taking on and we have to take on. Then the question is how can we continue to operate with such a business model which still brings fashion to the people but how do we do that in a better way? Our business model is based on selling products and it still will be for a while and on the other hand, that means jobs for people, joy for people but we need to find a different way.

Laura Balmond, Project Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation:

Think of the global population, what do people want, what do people need. Firstly, we need clothes, but then we have a prospect of fashion. Fashion is creative and meets a variety of needs of the people. So you’ve got on the one hand, Instagram bloggers who wear many different outfits and that’s how they’ve learnt to operate. And that’s okay, we don’t want to stifle creativity or fun. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ve got the guy that’s had his pair of Levi’s and loves them and doesn’t want them to ever wear out and he’s set for life. So how can the fashion industry rise to the challenge of meeting both these needs and still continue to exist? This can lead to interesting things coming out of this, for instance, an organisation that curates a digital wardrobe, so why do they necessarily need to own clothes at all…This is the end where rental models, swapping will be the way to keep clothes in use for as long as possible, just not with the same person. Then, on the other hand, we need to create well made, durable and repairable clothing. And that’s the challenge for the fashion industry: how can it rise to better meet the needs of the consumers?

Mark Sumner, Lecturer in Sustainability, Fashion & Retail, University of Leeds:

We’ve got 11 years to solve climate change, and I suspect it’s going to be less than that. So I agree, that it’s not fast enough. But I think you need to understand that its systemic part of culture and the part that the fashion industry plays in it. Fashion plays a really important role in our lives, for self-esteem, identity, it’s about projecting our position in society. It a really important part of our lives… I think it’s really interesting when people talk about fast and slow fashion, I go around fabric mills and garment factories, you can see excellent best practice happening in fast fashion supply chain and at the same time, around the corner you see absolutely diabolical conditions in factories supplying to luxury brands, sometimes run by the mafia. So, to think that luxury, fast fashion and slow fashion are different concepts is false. I think what we need to be looking at is brands and retailers that are doing good things, H&M, for example, are trying lots of different models, they haven’t got the answers yet but at least they are trying. Some brands out there don’t even know they have to ask the question about climate change, it’s not on their agenda at all. Those organisations are the ones we really need to metaphorically give them a kick. Different business models need to be developed but that does require significant change, so it’s also about changing the way we behave.

Mary Creagh, MP and Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee:

Thank you [to Extinction Rebellion] for creating the operating space for MP’s like me, who have always been a bit of a lonely voice, to become normalised.

But also, while there is a climate emergency, there’s also a social emergency on hand. And we need to tackle both of these things together. And switching to a low-carbon economy, we have to make it adjust transitionally, we have to make sure we don’t create winners and losers, so that fashion shouldn’t just become something for rich people to enjoy. So, when we look at how we are going to transition, we have got problems with our transport, in agriculture and the way we fuel our homes. So those are the three policy challenges for government. Had we moved from our over-consuming society very quickly, we aren’t going to get to net zero by 2025. The science will tell us what to do to get to net zero by 2050, and then in five years’ time to 2040 and then we’ll aim to get there for 2035. We have wasted the last 10 years, we’ve had no new policy in this country to change behaviour and we’ve done some policy mistakes along the way. I think fashion needs to set out it’s roadmap to net zero. It needs to say how we get to net zero and the target needs to be legally enforceable and not just voluntary.

Dr Mark Sumner, Lecturer in Sustainability, Fashion & Retail, University of Leeds:

This isn’t just about fashion, it’s a culture of consumption. There are brands doing good stuff who are being lambasted by the press and the ones that aren’t doing anything are slipping into the shadows.

 

Closing Fashion Question Time 2019, Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Fashion Revolution, made a powerful closing speech:

“There is absolutely no excuse anymore. We all have to do what is required of us as people, people working in companies, in governments, in education, in the media, and at home. We have to fight the system and we have to fight our lifestyle. We can’t do this without information and we can’t access verifiable, comparable and understandable information without transparency and public disclosure… We have to move from a culture of exploitation to one of appreciation and place respect for resources and for each other before every deed and every process.”

The other questions asked were:

Antonio Roade, Senior CSR Manager, New Look asked:

Technology will be vital to transition towards a circular economy; and we keep on seeing big companies investing millions collaborating with different research institutions; in different areas and often with no clear outputs. How do we coordinate different initiatives and who should be taking the lead on this (research institutions, governments or brands)?

Elle L, Artist, Expert Advisor in Fashion and Media to United Nations Environment Programme asked:

As we know, fast fashion uses a lot of synthetics which we in the room and the government now know to be highly toxic and damaging to the environment — do you think that a tax can and should be implemented to minimise or how do we phase out the amount of synthetics produced?

Julie Hill, Chair of WRAP asked:

What are the best tools to drive resource efficiency and transparency in the fashion supply chain?

Jennifer Eweh, Designer and Entrepreneur, Eden Diodati asked:

What are the opportunities and challenges involved with automation, blockchain, and artificial intelligence being used within the fashion supply chain?

Siobhan Wilson, Owner, The Fair Shop asked:

Small business and organisations have been driving change in communities across the country and beyond in making, repairing, reinventing and reusing. How can these businesses be nurtured and supported more here in the UK, so they can flourish at a greater scale and gain further exposure to a mainstream fashion audience?

Jasmine Hemsley, Cook, Author and wellness expert, asked:

What will our future look like without sustainable fashion being commonplace?

A very special thank you to the Edwina Ehrman for opening the V&A to Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Question Time and to the rest of the V&A team for your efforts in making this event a success. And a thank you to Sienna Somers and the rest of the Fashion Revolution team for organising this event.

All images Copyright Rachel Manns / www.rachelmanns.com / @rachel_manns / Rachel Manns is an internationally commissioned freelance photographer based in London, UK. She has spent the last decade shooting for a range of clients all over the world. She has a strong passion for sustainability and human rights. With fierce ethical values and a beautiful visual style, Rachel’s work perfectly intertwines the two. Her aim is to use her camera to aid positive change globally, whether that’s politically or commercially, whilst never compromising on aesthetic. Get in contact for rates.

 

Fashion Question Time at the V&A

Fashion Question Time at the V&A 2019

Fashion Revolution invites you to Fashion Question Time at the V&A

Wednesday, 24th April 2019 10 am – 12 pm.

Tickets are free via Eventbrite but we encourage you to donate 

 

Fashion Question Time is a powerful platform to debate the future of the fashion industry during Fashion Revolution Week. This year, we are opening to the public for the first time.

This year our theme is Tomorrowland: how innovation and sustainability will change the fashion panorama.

 

Chaired by Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey, the panel will follow a BBC Question Time format with a diverse range of leading experts from across government, academia and the fashion and textile industry adding their own voice to the debate about how innovation and sustainability must be accelerated to change the fashion panorama.

The panel will include:

Mary Creagh, MP and Chair of the Environment Audit Committee

Laura Balmond, Project Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Mark Sumner, Lecturer in Sustainability, Fashion & Retail, University of Leeds

Hendrik Alpen, Sustainability Engagement Manager, H&M Group

 

The debate is dependent on the quality and diversity of the questions we receive, so please can you email any questions for the panel to RSVP@fashionrevolution.org. If your question has been selected, we will let you know in advance of the event.

 

The event will be followed by an opportunity for members of the press to talk to the panellists and the Fashion Revolution team. All interview requests must be emailed to RSVP@fashionrevolution.org in advance of the event.

 

 

Details:

Fashion Question Time at the V&A

Tickets via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fashion-question-time-at-the-va-tickets-59176317960

Wednesday 24th April 2019 10 am – 12 pm

Please arrive by 10 am prompt via the Entrance via Exhibition Road

Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre,

V&A Museum,

Entrance via Exhibition Road,

SW7 2RL

 Co-funded by the European Union

Transparency is trending

An increasing number of fashion brands and retailers are publicly disclosing their manufacturers and suppliers. As of April 2019, we have counted 180 Brands across 75 companies/parent groups that are publishing supplier lists, where at least some of their products are made.

 

Why should brands publish supplier lists?

Publishing supplier lists are important because it helps NGOs, unions, local communities and even workers themselves to alert brands of any potential human rights and environmental issues in their supply chains. This sort of transparency makes it easier for the relevant parties to understand what went wrong, who is responsible and how to fix it. It also helps consumers better understand #whomademyclothes. For more information on why transparency matters, please read the latest Fashion Transparency Index.

When we published the first edition of the Fashion Transparency Index with Ethical Consumer magazine in April 2016, we looked at 40 leading global fashion brands and found that only 5 brands (Adidas, Converse, H&M, Levi Strauss & Co and H&M) published a list of their manufacturers and only 2 (Adidas and H&M) published the names and addresses of sub-contractors or processing facilities.

Out of the 200 brands included the Fashion Transparency Index 2019, 70 major brands (35%) are publishing a list of their factories at the first tier, where clothes are typically cut, sewn and trimmed. This is up from 32% of 150 major brands in 2017 and 12.5% of 40 major brands in 2016.

Out of the 200 brands, we discovered that just 38 brands (19%) are publishing their processing facilities, where clothes undergo dyeing, printing, finishing and laundering – up from only 14% of the brands in 2017.

10 brands (5%) are now disclosing some of the facilities or farms supplying their fibres such as viscose, cotton and wool. This is a significant increase from 2018 where only one brand disclosed this information and no brands shared this information in 2017 or 2016.

We have looked at brands beyond the Fashion Transparency Index to count the number that are publishing lists of their suppliers. Below you will find 180 brands (over £36 million annual turnover) that are publishing lists of their manufacturers and/or suppliers. This list is not exhaustive; if you are aware of other brands that are publishing their suppliers, please let us know at transparency@fashionrevolution.org.

The information they provide varies widely. Some publish every factory where their clothes are manufactured. Others may only reveal a selected portion of their manufacturers, such as their high-volume or long-term suppliers, factories located just in one country or only the factories that the company owns and directly operates.

Some brands will publish very basic information — just a name and country  — whereas others will disclose more detailed information such as the factory’s address, number of workers, types of products the factory makes, the gender breakdown of the workers in the factory, and so on. There is no standard format for disclosure. However, we believe brands should be disclosing more than just a name and country. We will be pushing brands to provide a greater level of detail in their supplier lists, and you can encourage them to do so too. Check out the new Get Involved packs for ideas on how to influence brands to be more transparent about their suppliers.

 

Brands who publish supplier lists (tier one only):

& Other Stories (H&M group)
Abercrombie & Fitch
Adidas
ALDI-Nord
ALDI SOUTH

Ann Taylor
ARROW (PVH)
ASICS
ASOS
Athleta (GAP Inc.)
Autograph (Speciality Fashion Group)
Banana Republic (GAP Inc.)
Berghaus (Pentland Brands)
Berlei (Hanes)
BESTSELLER
BigW (Woolsworth Group)
Black Pepper (PAS Group)
Bon Prix
Bonds (Hanes)
Boxfresh (Pentland Brands)
Brand Collective
Brooks Sports
Burton (Arcadia)
C&A
Calvin Klein (PVH)
Champion (Hanes)
Cheap Monday (H&M group)
City Chic (Speciality Fashion Group)
Clarks
Cole’s (Wesfarmers Group)
Columbia Sportswear Co.
Converse (NIKE, Inc)
Cos (H&M group)
Cotton:On
Crossroads (Speciality Fashion Group)
Curvation (Fruit of the Loom, Inc.)
David Jones
Debenhams
Designworks (PAS Group)
Disney
Dorothy Perkins (Arcadia)
Dressmann
Eagle Creek (VF Corporation)
Eastpak (VF Corporation)
Ellesse (Pentland Brands)
Esprit
Evans (Arcadia)
Factorie (Cotton On Group)
Forever New
Fruit of the Loom
G-Star
Galeria Inno (HBC)
Galeria Kaufhof (HBC)
Gap
George at Asda (Walmart)
Gildan 
H&M
Hanes
Hermès
Holeproof Explorer (Hanes)
Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC)
HUGO BOSS
Hurley (NIKE, Inc)
Intermix (GAP Inc.)
IZOD (PVH)
JACK&JONES (BESTSELLER)
Jack Wolfskin
Jacqueline de Yong (BESTSELLER)
JAG (APG & Co)
Jansport (VF Corporation)
Jeanswest
JETS Swimwear (PAS Group)
Jockey (Hanes)
John Lewis
Joe Fresh (Loblaw Companies Limited)
Jordan (NIKE, Inc)
Junarose (BESTSELLER)
KangaROOS (Pentland Brands)
Kathmandu
Katies (Speciality Fashion Group)
Kaufland
Kayser (Hanes)
Kipling (VF Corporation)
Kmart Australia (Wesfarmers Group)
Lee (VF Corporation)
Levi Strauss & Co.
Lidl
Lindex

Littlewoods (Shop Direct)
Loblaw
Loft (Ascena)
Lord & Taylor (HBC)
lucy (VF Corporation)
Lululemon
Majestic (VF Corporation)
Mamalicious (BESTSELLER)
Mammut
Marco Polo (PAS Group)
Marimekko
Marks & Spencer
Matalan

MEC
Millers (Speciality Fashion Group)
Miss Selfridge (Arcadia)
Mizuno
Monki (H&M group)
Name It (BESTSELLER)
Napapijiri (VF Corporation)
Nautica (VF Corporation)
New Balance
New Look
Next
Nike
Noisy May (BESTSELLER)
Old Navy (GAP Inc.)
Only (BESTSELLER)
Only & Sons (BESTSELLER)
Outerknown (Kering Group)
Outfit (Arcadia)
Patagonia
Pieces (BESTSELLER)
Pimkie
Playtex (Hanes)
Primark
Prisma (S Group)

Puma
R.M Williams
Razzamatazz (Hanes)
Red or Dead (Pentland Brands)
Reebok (Adidas Group)
Reef (VF Corporation)
Review (PAS Group)
Rider’s by Lee (VF Corporation)
Rio (Hanes)
Rivers (Speciality Fashion Group)
Rock & Republic (VF Corporation)
rubi (Cotton On Group)
Russell Athletic (Fruit of the Loom, Inc.)
Sainsbury’s – Tu Clothing
Saba (APG & Co.)
Sak’s Fifth Avenue (HBC)
Selected (BESTSELLER)
Sheer Relief (Hanes)
Sisley (Benetton Group)
Smartwool (VF Corporation)
SPALDING (Fruit of the Loom, Inc.)
Speedo (Pentland Brands)
Sportscraft (APG & Co.)
Supré (Cotton On Group)
Target
Target Australia (Wesfarmers Group)
Tchibo
Tesco
The North Face (VF Corporation)
Timberland (VF Corporation)
Tommy Hilfiger (PVH)
Topman (Arcadia)
Topshop (Arcadia)
Under Armour
Uniqlo (Fast Retailing)
United Colours of Benetton (Benetton Group)
Van Heusen (PVH)
Vanity Fair Lingerie (Fruit of the Loom, Inc.)
Vans (VF Corporation)
Vassarette (Hanes)
Vero Moda (BESTSELLER)
Very (Shop Direct)
Victoria’s Secret (L Brands)

Vila Clothes (BESTSELLER)
Voodoo (Hanes)
Wallis (Arcadia)
Warner’s (PVH)
Weekday (H&M group)
White Runway (PAS Group)
Wrangler (VF Corporation)
Yarra Trail (PAS Group)
Y.A.S. (BESTSELLER)

Total: 180

 

Brands who publish processing facilities list:

Adidas
ASOS
Banana Republic (GAP Inc.)
Bershka (Inditex)
Bon Prix
C&A
Champion (Hanes)
Converse (NIKE, Inc)
Esprit
Gap
Gildan 
G-Star RAW
H&M
Hanes
Hermès
Jordan (NIKE, Inc)
Levi Strauss & Co.
Lindex
Massimo Dutti (Inditex)
New Balance
Nike (Nike, Inc.)
Old Navy (GAP Inc.)
Patagonia
Pull & Bear (Inditex)
Puma
Reebok (Adidas Group)
Russell Athletic (Fruit of the Loom, Inc.)
Stradivarius (Inditex)
Target
Tchibo
Tesco
The North Face (VF Corporation)
Timberland (VF Corporation)
Uniqlo (Fast Retailing)
United Colours of Benetton (Benetton Group)
Vans (VF Corporation)
Wrangler (VF Corporation)
Zara (Inditex)

Total: 38

 

Brands who publish raw materials supplier list:

ASOS
C&A
Esprit
Lululemon
Marks & Spencer
Patagonia
The North Face (VF Corporation)
Timberland (VF Corporation)
Vans (VF Corporation)
Wrangler (VF Corporation)

Total: 10

 

 

Please note: We are not endorsing the brands included in this list; this is not a ‘seal of approval.’ While publishing supplier lists is a necessary step towards greater transparency and improved conditions in fashion supply chains, it does not guarantee ethical business practices. However, we hope you find this list informative and continue to ask brands #whomademyclothes.

Fashion Revolution Statement on House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Interim Report on the Sustainability of the Fashion Industry

In Autumn 2018 the Environmental Audit Committee wrote to sixteen leading UK fashion retailers, among them M&S, ASOS and Boohoo, asking what they are doing to reduce the environmental and social impact of the clothes and shoes they sell. Today they released their Interim Report on the Sustainability of the Fashion Industry.

Fashion Revolution welcomes the UK Environmental Audit Committee’s findings of their inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry. We too want to see a thriving fashion industry in the UK that employs people, inspires creativity and contributes to sustainable livelihoods in the UK and around the world. We agree with the Environmental Audit Committee’s conclusion that the global fashion industry is exploitative and environmentally damaging and that brands and retailers have an obligation to address the fundamental business model.

This report states “We believe that there is scope for retailers to do much more to tackle labour market and environmental sustainability issues. We are disappointed that so few retailers are showing leadership through engagement with industry initiatives.”

Fashion Revolution believes that fashion brands and retailers should sign up to pledges and multi-stakeholder initiatives which are working towards improving workers’ rights, paying a living wage and striving towards a closed loop system. They should also use our Transparency Index as a tool to disclose more about their social and environmental policies, practices and impact both within their companies and throughout their supply chain.

The Committee believes that “The fashion industry’s current business model is clearly unsustainable, especially with a growing middle-class population and rising levels of consumption across the globe. We are disappointed that few high street and online fashion retailers are taking significant steps to improve their environmental sustainability”.    Brands are criticised for inadequate sustainability actions and initiatives. The report concludes that recycling waste and complying with the Government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment is not sufficient to offset the environmental damage caused by the fashion industry.

We believe that the fashion industry in the United Kingdom and globally needs far reaching systemic change in order to tackle poverty, inequality and environmental degradation and greater transparency is the first crucial step towards solving its human rights and environmental crises. Our Fashion Transparency Index research has shown that some major brands and retailers are making significant efforts to tackle these issues in their companies and across their supply chains, whilst at the same time far too many large brands and retailers are turning a blind eye. Increased transparency means issues along the supply chain can be identified, addressed and remedied much faster. Greater transparency also means best practice examples, positive stories and effective innovations can be more easily highlighted, shared and potentially scaled or replicated elsewhere.

In an Ipsos MORI survey of 5,000 people across the five largest EU markets published by Fashion Revolution in November, consumers told us they want to know more about the social and environmental impacts of their garments when shopping for clothes and they expect fashion brands and governments to be doing more to address these issues. 77% strongly/somewhat agree that fashion brands should be required by law to respect the human rights of everybody involved in making their products, 75% strongly/somewhat agree that fashion brands should be required by law to protect the environment at every stage of making their products. The majority of people surveyed believed governments should be responsible for holding fashion brands to account for disclosing information about the way their products are made, what suppliers they are working with and how they’re applying socially and environmentally responsible practices in their supply chains.

It is clear that greater government intervention will be necessary if companies are to be held to account for the impacts of their practices on people’s lives and the environment. We want the U.K. Government to pass mandatory due diligence laws, building upon the recent regulatory examples in France and Switzerland. Ultimately, if the UK Government is serious about improving human rights, social impacts and environmental sustainability in the fashion industry, then it must rewrite the rules of the economy so that shareholder profit is no longer prioritised above the protection of our ecosystems and the health and wellbeing of our communities.

A Tale of Two T-Shirts

The faces of the Fashion Revolution campaign

In it’s 5th year and already the worlds largest fashion activism movement, Fashion Revolution was formed in response to the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, where 1,138 people lost their lives. Calling for greater transparency in the supply chain, workers rights and a re-think of the way we use and consume clothing, Fashion Revolution is a global campaign that champions an ethical and sustainable fashion industry.

As Novel Beings, now A Novel Approach, Khandiz and I have worked with Fashion Revolution to art direct and produce their branding campaigns for 2015 and 2016, but we knew the 2018 should be something slightly different. Not only should the tone be reflective and respectful of the campaigns origins, but it should also celebrate all the wonderful young people who have embraced the rally all to action and joined the fashion Revolution.

So in order to celebrate all the wonderful revolutionary consumers who have joyfully taken up Fashion Revolution’s cause over the last 5 years, we ran a competition to find the faces of the 2018 Fashion Revolution campaign. We were looking for passionate young people, all at different stages of their own personal Fashion Revolution, to fly the flag for us.

We were overwhelmed by the response and delighted by our final selection. From musicians to bloggers and fashion students, please meet the Faces of The Revolution.

Grace Fairweather

@novembermeetsmay

How did you first hear about Fashion Revolution and what inspired you to want to be the next ‘face’ of the campaign?

I first heard of Fashion Revolution through the incredible London-based brand Birdsong. Dazed Digital did an article on them a few years ago and, even though I was already interested in and attempting slow fashion, this is when I really started to commit to ethical and sustainable living. A few Google searches later, I had found Fashion Revolution and the endless inspiration and information they provide.

When I saw Fashion Revolution was looking for “faces” for their anniversary campaign, I jumped at the opportunity to model for an organisation I align with morally. I’ve existed on the periphery of modelling for a while now; doing odd shoots and jobs for fashion-based businesses, but have always been wary of taking a job that could mean compromising my personal ethics. This is the first time I’ve modelled for an exclusively “ethical” organisation, (Fashion Revolution) and agency (A Novel Approach) and it was an incredible experience!

What do you do when you’re not posing for Fashion Revolution?

Hello! First-and-foremost an English student, but I’m also a blogger, model, and freelance writer.

What changes in your shopping or self-styling habits has Fashion Revolution inspired you to make?

One of the great things about Fashion Revolution is that, as an organisation, they champion multiplicity. My slow fashion journey has taught me that there is no one-way to live sustainably and any path you do take has its own complications, moral and otherwise. My current favourite to shop sustainably is Depop. I’ve recently created my own concept shop on there as an extension of my blog, November Meets May. (@novembermeetsmay on Depop).

Do you have any advice for anyone who would love to ‘green up’ their wardrobe and join Fashion Revolution, but doesn’t know where to start?

Equip yourself with knowledge! Knowledge will be your best tool in deciding which green path is right for you. Watch the True Cost, read newspaper articles on the current state and statistics of fast fashion, and keep up-to-date with Fashion Revolution. My own journey was a slow one and you don’t have to do anything earth-shattering to be a part of the revolution. Making the decision not to shop fast fashion for 3 months, a month, even a week is a great start and will make more difference to your life and the lives of others than you realise.

What is your most cherished piece of clothing and why?

I have the most incredible vegan, pinatex (pineapple leather) jacket from a sustainable, LA-based brand called Pangean, with “Save the Planet” embellished on the back. It’s easily the piece I get the most comments and compliments on. Nothing makes me feel more badass.

What will you be doing for Fashion Revolution Week?

There are so many amazing events on this year that it’s hard to decide! Here in Exeter an ethical clothing store, Sancho’s Dress, is putting on a different event every day of the week, so I really am spoilt for choice. So far, I’m thinking of attending their “Meet the Makers” panel and sales event party, and then heading up to London for the Depop x Fashion Revolution event, as well as (hopefully) the Galdem x Fashion Revolution event.

Who is your style icon?

Janelle Monae and Willow Smith. Sorry, I couldn’t pick one!

Mao Miyakoshi

@mao_ethical_colorful

How did you first hear about Fashion Revolution and what inspired you want be the next ‘face’ of the campaign?

I heard about it for the first time in Japan a few years ago. I was so happy that we could have the opportunity to share more information of ethical fashion to Japanese people because ethical fashion is still isolated compared with the European market.

I arrived in London from Japan with a two year visa, I made a promise to myself that I will try things that I’m excited about, even if it feels impossible or makes me anxious because you never know what’s gonna happen.

When I saw the post for ‘Model Wanted’ for the Fashion Revolution campaign, I felt super excited and imagined how nice it would be if I’m in the shoot. But after 3 seconds, the doubt appeared. ” Don’t be silly, Mao. You don’t have anything. You are not as beautiful or have as nice a body as model; you’re short, not skinny. Of course it’s not for you. Model needs to be like model.” But I tried to change my mind, decided to give it a try, because nothing would change if I fail. I thought an Asian girl being in the shoot in Europe would be interesting, and seeing a model that’s short and non-skinny can encourage people who think they are not special. Also, at least I passed the applicant requirement that I am in UK and I could attend the shoot date, and I LOVE ethical fashion! Also, I wanted to have more connections with like-minded ethical people, so I’m so glad I applied!

What do you do when you’re not posing for Fashion Revolution?

I’m beginning my work as a fashion stylist. I have been building my portfolio and sending submissions to magazines. So far, my work has been accepted by two magazines, one in Germany and one in America! I would love to use my work to promote ethical fashion. I’m also a fashion assistant at the sustainable fashion brand COSSAC and in October I’ll be a MA Textile design student at Chelsea College of Art.

What changes in your shopping or self-styling habits has Fashion Revolution inspired you to make?

I haven’t bought new clothes that much in the last few years since I have been into ethical fashion. I have three older siblings, they and my mother give me lots of clothes and because I love fashion styling I’m always trying to figure out more ways to wear the clothes I have.

But Fashion Revolution has definitely given me more ethical shopping options and ideas for how to how we can treat our clothes nicely.

Do you have any advice for anyone who would love to ‘green up’ their wardrobe and join Fashion Revolution, but doesn’t know where to start?

I would suggest they choose the category that they are interested in the most, like clothes, accessories or lifestyle or cosmetics and then Google it. You can easily find nice opinions and articles from bloggers and you can pick some nice brands from them. But the important thing is not to get stressed and worried. Sometimes, people feel a duty to purchase sustainable products, even if they don’t like the design. The approach is not going to work in the end. The key is to enjoy yourself, and celebrate the ethical and environmental movement at your own speed.

What is your most cherished piece of clothing and why?

My checkered trousers are the no.1 useful piece in my wardrobe. It can transform any way I like, for a cool style, or pop style and always people asked me where I got them. I found them at flea market in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo and they cost only £3! Another favorite piece is the T-shirt that I wear in second picture. This was a surprise gift from a friend; the design is from my favorite illustrator Kazuo Hozumi. She remembers that I like his work and she bought it for me as soon as she saw it. Always receiving a gift makes me pleased, especially if it’s a surprise. It was double happiness.  

What will you be doing for Fashion Revolution Week?

The brand I assist at COSSAC, will have a show room in the event ‘Ethical brands for Fashion Revolution’, so I will be there, but I’m also planning to attend several events as all event looks super interesting so it’s gonna be quite busy week for me.

I am planning to ask #whomademyclothes but haven’t decided on the brand yet, as soon I do I’ll share the photo on instagram. 

Who is your style icon?

I don’t have a specific fashion icon. My mother was my first icon, but I am always inspired by the arts and all kinds of actresses, films and photography. My favorite films are Amèlie and Simple Simon. I like directors with a unique view of the world of like Jean Pierre Jeunet and Woody Allen.

Rachel Callender

@rachel.callender

How did you first hear about Fashion Revolution and what inspired you to want be the next ‘face’ of the campaign?

I was introduced to Fashion Revolution through a previous graduate from my university. Their work is very focused on sustainability and conscious design, actively questioning and challenging attitudes towards the waste the fashion industry produces throughout the design process.

Knowing that I wanted to learn more ways to be a sustainable and considerate designer myself, he sent me the link to Fashion Revolution and voila! 

How has Fashion Revolution inspired your shopping or self-styling habits?

Before discovering the campaign I had recently stopped shopping high street brands and I certainly can’t afford to buy designer clothes with just my student loan! So charity, second hand and vintage shops were and are still my go to. What Fashion Revolution has taught me is the importance of considering the lifespan of your purchases. Now I am even questioning my charity buys and how they could be recycled at the end of their lives, depending on their fibre content.

What do you do when you’re not posing for Fashion Revolution?

I’m a Fashion Design: Menswear second-year student at Central Saint Martins.

Do you have any advice for anyone who would love to ‘green up’ their wardrobe and join Fashion Revolution, but doesn’t know where to start?

When buying ‘new’ items for your wardrobe, start at a second-hand shop! Try Mary’s Living and Giving stores, or ’boutique’ charity shops if you don’t want to work too hard to find something beautiful, as they offer a more curated selection of garments.

But I have personally found the best garments at the jumble sale style shops! You just have to be willing to look long and hard, but when you do you can snag yourself a bargain for your toil. Repairing loved garments, instead of throwing them away if they become damaged by darning and patching, can actually make them look even better and gives character to clothes. I personally love sashiko stitched patches to revive tired clothes.

What is your most cherished piece of clothing and why?

I have a ginormous sweatshirt I bought at Crisis in Finsbury Park, which I adore and barely ever take off. It’s a heavily faded shade of purple with a screen-printed illustration of a Vizsla dog on the front, which is also peeling and fading. It seems to have been a work sweatshirt for ‘Red Dog Films’. I don’t know why I’m so attached to it really; I think I just love the little Vizsla print! 

Who is your style icon?

I honestly couldn’t say I haven’t had one of those for a while! Style influence, on the other hand, would be a combination of my mum and dad’s wardrobes.

What will you be doing for Fashion Revolution Week?

I will be making my own clothes! Sourcing fabrics and all components which will allow me to definitely answer the #whomademyclothes!

But a problem a lot of designers and makers have is that more fabric shops than I’d like to hold back information about their supply chain which makes it difficult to ultimately determine whether the fabrics were created in sustainable and ethical conditions. There definitely needs to be more transparency in fabric shops. The Cloth House in Soho is one of the better stores in London for transparency and product knowledge. And online you can find fantastic eco options at Offsetwarehouse.

Freya Joy

@tip.topshelf

How did you first hear about Fashion Revolution and what inspired you to want to be the next ‘face’ of the campaign?

I have been following Fashion Revolution since I joined instagram. I’ve always really admired their work, It’s such an empowering movement and it’s so easy for you to join in, get your hands dirty and really feel like your contributing to something important; armed with nothing more than a spare five minutes and your smartphone. Having been applauding Fashion Revolution from a distance for so long, I leapt at the chance to be a part of the campaign. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved in something that has influenced and inspired me so much.

How has Fashion Revolution inspired your shopping or self-styling habits?

I’m a charity shop addict. It can be so hit and miss and I love that, it kind of feels like modern day treasure hunting. There’s definitely a feeling of success I get when I find something I love in a charity shop that I don’t get in the same way when buying brand new clothes. I’d say that’s where everything I’ve learned from Fashion Revolution has affected me the most. Understanding where my clothes have come from and the impact their production has on the lives of the people who make them and on the environment has definitely given me a newfound sense of responsibility as a consumer that has really lit the fire under my existing charity shop enthusiasm!

What do you do when you’re not posing for Fashion Revolution?

I’m a Musician and I also work for Lush UK.

Do you have any advice for anyone who would love to ‘green up’ their wardrobe and join Fashion Revolution, but doesn’t know where to start?

My main piece of advice, or maybe reassurance would be that it’s much easier than you think. One of the facts that really stood out for me, from Fashion Revolution’s fanzine, “Loved Clothes Last”, is that by extending the life of your clothing by a further nine months, you can reduce the carbon, waste and water footprint by around 20-30% for each piece. With that in mind, learning simple tricks for how to care for different fabrics, or how to repair clothes instead of throwing them away when they show signs of wear and tear, become inspiring, revolutionary acts.

What is your most cherished piece of clothing and why?

That’s a very difficult decision to make! I have a lot of my mum’s and brother’s old clothes that I wear often and love mainly because they were theirs first. But it’s probably a vintage M&S blazer I acquired whilst volunteering in a charity shop in my hometown when I was fifteen. I still wear it a lot now, but back then I don’t think I left the house without it for about two years; I just completely fell in love with it. Working at the charity shop was probably the catalyst for how crazy I am about charity shopping now. So there is definitely an element of nostalgia and gratitude I feel towards that blazer, which would make it difficult for me to ever part with it!

Who is your style icon?

My style icon would have to be Nai Palm, lead singer of Hiatus Kaiyote. Much like her music, her style is wildly varied and inspired by a diverse range of cultures and influences. Not one to shy away from accessories, metallics and bold colours, she usually wears lots of ever-changing chunky, oversized jewellery.

In a beautiful interview she did a couple of years back for the Under The Skin project, she talks about how a lot of the jewellery she is drawn to comes from nomadic cultures, which, being an orphan who moved around a lot as a child, she identifies with. She also talks in the interview about how off the back of her aesthetic, people who aren’t familiar with her work often assume she is in a punk band, when in fact she is an R&B/Soul singer. I really admire how her style doesn’t conform to any particular ‘genre’, really it’s the amalgamation of everything that she somehow manages to make work together seamlessly, that in turn makes her look so authentic and enchanting. I think that’s a really unique and beautiful thing.

What will you be doing for Fashion Revolution Week?

I’ll definitely be asking some brands #whomademyclothes… It’s an important question to keep asking. And I’m planning to come to some of the London events.

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Download our campaign images here and help spread the word about Fashion Revolution!

 

Campaign photoshoot photography by Alastair Strong. Creative direction and production by A Novel Approach. Styling by Matthew Needham, assisted by Rosie Harris. Make up by Melanie Christoumua. Hair Betty Bee Hair. Thanks to Sunbeam Studios and The Laundryroom.
From a Special Needs School to an Empowering Sustainable Fashion Brand

When Ubuntu Made first came to Maai Mahiu, we found a community of children with special needs and their mothers being mistreated and secluded. The stigma and lack of understanding surrounding special needs in Kenya means extremely limited access to essential services such as education, affordable healthcare, physical rehabilitation, and vocational training. This leads to limited opportunities for social inclusion, many social and economic issues for their families, and ultimately limits their ability to live the life of dignity that they deserve. Ubuntu first created the Ubuntu Special Needs Centre (SNC) to combat this stigma and injustice by providing therapy, education, and vocational training to youth with special needs in Maai Mahiu. Caring for these children had been a full-time job for their mothers, so soon after enrolling their children in the SNC their Mums started a new conversation with the founders: “Now that our kids are out of the house, can you help us do something productive with our time?”

The answer was a fashion line, initially imagined to create jobs for these Mums. Today, those same women have formed into a sisterhood revered in the community: women who provide for their families, purchase land, and venture into their own successful entrepreneurial efforts. Which is why it’s not simply about creating jobs.

“Plenty of people have been given opportunity, but they don’t feel empowered,” explains Zane Wilemon. “There’s something magical about our culture and creating a job within that; it then empowers the whole community.”

This conviction is what led Ubuntu Made to design and launch the Afridrille. At the intersection of customization and sustainability, the Afridrille merges customer experience with genuine connection. Based on the popular espadrille style shoe, their version marries modern on-demand manufacturing technology to an artisanal production process. Customers can choose from an incredible array of styles, choosing from a range of canvas colors, printed patterns, pattern colors, and African kanga linings. There are over 23,000 different design options, so each pair represents the personality of the individual customer. That means that each pair must be made to order, not produced in bulk in advance.

The key to making this process work is technology and expertise provided by Zazzle, a Silicon Valley company that makes customizing anything a possibility. They’ve applied their cutting-edge technology to enhance the customer design process and have dedicated hundreds of hours of senior staff time to help Ubuntu develop the new product, in a collaboration that re-defines what true “corporate social responsibility” represents today.

“At Zazzle we’re thrilled to extend our platform and technologies to Makers who craft products with soul, made from the heart. And there’s perhaps no better example of this than the Ubuntu Mums,” explains Jeff Beaver, Zazzle co-founder and Chief Product Officer. “Through our partnership with Ubuntu we’ve learned that providing economic opportunity is exponentially more impactful, and sustainable, than handouts or charity. These Afridrilles are more than just awesome shoes, they are a celebration of the human spirit, and every single pair empowers these Mums, their special needs kids, and their larger community. What’s better than that?” 

Crowdfunding the product launch via Kickstarter allows Ubuntu to build up production capabilities, expand the skillset of their ‘Maker Mums’, and perfect a complex operating process with the support of the Kickstarter community.

“Never underestimate the power of the entrepreneurial spirit and what can happen when people collaborate on something bigger than ourselves,” says Wilemon. “With the support of Zazzle and an eager crowdfunding audience, together we will scale up production and empower thousands of women and families in Kenya.”

At Ubuntu, empowerment means more than providing handouts or even a sustainable job. It means offering people a chance to create their own lives and livelihood. Ubuntu Made pays above-market wages to all of our employees – up to 4 times as much as they would have been able to find elsewhere in the community. We also provide health insurance to all our employees and their families, a rarity in Kenya where less than 20% have access.

The job skills our Mums learn and the money they earn empower them to buy homes – more than half of Ubuntu employees are homeowners compared to 1% nationwide. They are able to provide for their families, and sometimes start their own enterprises. They earn more than money; they earn respect in their community. Together, by providing disabled children with the healthcare and education they need, we empower them to realize their fullest potential.

That’s empowerment. That’s Ubuntu in action.

Fashion Revolution launches White Paper on Transparency in Fashion Supply Chain

On 2nd December 2015, Fashion Revolution launched its first white paper, It’s Time for a Fashion Revolution, for the European Year for Development. The paper sets out the need for more transparency across the fashion industry, from seed to waste. The paper contextualises Fashion Revolution’s efforts, the organisation’s philosophy and how the public, the industry, policymakers and others around the world can work towards a safer, cleaner, more fair and beautiful future for fashion.

“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. Our vision is is a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure”

explained Sarah Ditty on behalf of Fashion Revolution.

white paper panel

Carry Somers, co-founder of Fashion Revolution, said

“Most of the public is still not aware that human and environmental abuses are endemic across the fashion and textiles industry and that what they’re wearing could have been made in an exploitative way. We don’t want to wear that story anymore. We want to see fashion become a force for good.”

The paper was launched at a joint event with the Fair Trade Advocacy Office in Brussels and hosted by Arne Leitz, Member of the European Parliament to mark the European Year for Development.

The event included contributions by Dr Roberto Ridolfi, Director at the European Commission Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation, Jean Lambert MEP, and Sergi Corbalán, on behalf of the Fair Trade movement.

“We need an integrated approach, from cotton farmer to consumer, and we need EU support,”

explained Sergi Corbalán.

Sarah Arne Lietz Orsola

Fashion Revolution lays out its five year agenda in the paper. By 2020, Fashion Revolution hopes that:

With many congratulations on the launch of the white paper, Dr Roberto Ridolfi proclaimed:

“My ambition, as of tomorrow, is to become a Fashion Revolutionary!”

Roberto Ridolfo

 

Although our resources are free to download, we kindly ask for a £3 donation towards booklet downloads. Please donate via our donations page

[download image=”https://www.fashionrevolution.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/FRD_resources_thumbnail_whitepaper.jpg”]Download our White Paper ‘It’s time for a Fashion Revolution‘, published December 2015.
Download[/download]

Fashion Revolution also launched a new video for the European Year for Development at the event: Why We Need a Fashion Revolution.

Ethical Fashion 2020: a New Vision for Transparency

On Monday 29 June 2015 in the UK House of Lords, industry leaders, press and political leaders attended the roundtable debate Ethical Fashion 2020: a New Vision for Transparency. The aim of the event was to help to shape a vison of what transparent supply chains could look like in five years time and set out what steps are needed to transform the fashion industry of the future.

The event at the House of Lords, now in its second year, was co-hosted by Fashion Revolution, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion.

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Introducing the event, IOSH Chief Executive Jan Chmiel said

“Transparency matters because it can drive improved workplace standards. It can also increase recognition of good health and safety performance. And importantly, it can help ensure more people view health and safety as an investment, not a cost – one that saves lives, supports business and sustains communities. Whereas, a lack of transparency can do the reverse. Crucially, it can mean that firms don’t know the factories that are supplying them, so they can’t actively manage their risks – potentially leading to tragedy, disaster and business failure”.

Co-founder of Fashion Revolution, Carry Somers, set the scene as to why transparency is a crucial issue to address over the next 5 years

“So much is hidden within the industry, largely because of its scale and complexity. The system in which the fashion and textiles industry operates has become unmanageable and almost nobody has a clear picture how it all really works, from fibre through to final product, use and disposal.

The low or non-existent levels of visibility across the supply chain highlight the problematic and complex nature of the fashion industry. A few brands have received a lot of public pressure to publish information about their suppliers and some have responded by disclosing parts of it. Yet, the rest of the industry remains very opaque. It’s not just brands; it’s the myriad other stakeholders along the chain too.  We believe that knowing who made our clothes is the first step in transforming the fashion industry”.

The two hour debate, chaired by Lucy Siegle, acknowledged where progress needed to be made, highlighted opportunities for change and set out a vision for how the fashion industry could and should look by 2020.

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Some of the key points made by the speakers are set out below:

Peter McAllister, Executive Director of the Ethical Trading Initiative

 

Rob Wayss – Executive Director of The Bangladesh Accord

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Baroness Young of Hornsey – All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion.

 

Simon Ward – British Fashion Council (BFC)

 

Garrett Brown of the Maquiladora Health and Safety Support Network

Finally, Lucy Siegle asked the panellists what one thing would make a massive difference by 2020?

Garrett Brown: The Accord model of public discoloure is critical. Brands have to disclose where their factories are and tell us about the conditions.

Simon Ward: A lot of big and complex change is required. We need a magic story to tie it all together so it is understandable.

Baroness Lola Young: Information leading to activism. Supporting organisations like Fashion Revolution which are build on the work of other organisation like the EFF, ETI, Labour Behind the Label. Information needs to be acted on and we need coalitions like Fashion Revolution which can lobby for change.

Rob Wyass: Audits, credibly performed

Peter McAllister: The ETI has made a commitment to develop a public form of the audits of their companies which we hope will showcase some of the best performers.

After the debate, guests adjourned to River Room, overlooking the Thames, for a drinks reception and networking. Baroness Lola Young and Lord Speaker, Frances de Souza, both gave speeches at the reception and many of the guests were filmed for an upcoming series of mini films being produced and directed by Fashion Revolution as part of the European Year for Development.

The event at the House of Lords brought together many of the key people from within the fashion industry and beyond who are at the forefront of creating meaningful change. The challenge now is to translate the vision set out for transparency in 2020 into a reality in order to transform the fashion industry of the future.

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Photo credits: Arthur & Henry, Zoe Hitchen, Orsola de Castro and IOSH

 

Empowering Women through Handmade Fine Jewelry

As the site of the original legend of “El Dorado”, Colombia has a long and rich history of drawing out the unparalleled beauty of gold. Amalena artisans recover the sacred meaning of this metal for pre-Columbian tribes – A symbol of holiness and life that evokes the magic of the cosmos. Pure Colombian gold glitters like no other when caught in the light, as though mirroring the divine power of the sun.

Amalena Ethical & Eco-Friendly Jewelry

Tapping into the rich heritage of gold mining in the region, Amalena partners with traditional artisans who utilize methods passed down over dozens of generations to create our unique jewelry. Each piece tells a story, imbued with the indigenous fables and infinite skill of each craftswoman.

Elena is the manager of Minajoya, the local goldsmith cooperative partner of Amalena. Since an early age Elena was interested in the art of making delicate jewelry. She had learnt the traditional filigree techniques that have been used since centuries in Colombia. To improve her skills and learn different and new techniques of goldsmithing she had to leave La Llanada, her hometown in in the South of Colombia, and move 1.200 km North to join the Jewelry Trade School for four years. Since then Elena has been working for 13 years now as a goldsmith.


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Elena always had in mind to go back to her community and teaching others women the art of making precious jewels. Today this is a reality and thanks to her leadership other women have the opportunity to find a source of income through the art of making handmade fine jewelry. She has became a mentor and a lieder. As the manager of the local goldsmith cooperative, she knows how important it is for all the goldsmiths, that their work gets recognized and valued. She says that all of the members of Minajoya have one thing in common and that is that “making jewelry is our passion”.

Amalena Ethical & Eco-Friendly Jewelry

Making jewelry has helped Elena to finance her education and is now an important source of income for her and her family. “I am very excited and happy about Amalena, says Elena, first because our association is included and second because we are using gold from the region. It involves the main economic activities that we have here and it creates new ones.”

 

“I love what I do”, says Elena, ”this is my passion. When I am traveling I focus on the landscapes. I get inspired and I immediately think about a jewel. The beauty of my craft is to materialize thoughts and ideas and create something pretty other people can enjoy and wear.”

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The pictures and video were taken by Amalena team in Colombia during 2014. If you wish to share the material or get involved in the project, please contact us via email to info@amalena.com

To get more information about our social enterprise and Amalena Ethical and Eco-Firendly Gold Jewelry please visit our website