Who do the labels on your clothes cut out?
On fashion revolution day 2015 let’s cut out the labels inside our clothing and remember two years since 1133 people died at the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse. These are the people who are usually cut out from your labels.
My findings show the labels inside our clothing don’t give us the information we want. How do we know if our clothing is made in an ethical and environmentally friendly way? This question was bouncing around my mind but I couldn’t find the answers. For my University research dissertation I decided to get out there to investigate how wider social labelling of our clothing could help us buy sustainable fashion.
‘Social labels’ are probably something you’re more used to seeing on supermarket shelves than clothing rails. A social label, such as the fairtrade mark, tells you about the environmental or ethical impact of the product you’re about to buy. There’s all sorts of information the labels can certify on your clothes, from organic material content to acceptable labour conditions. In fashion there are social labels such as Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Fair-Wear-Foundation, Fairtrade, and the EU Eco-Label. Do you recognise any of these labels, and if you do would you choose a T-shirt with that label over one without it?
My study showed low recognition of these labels in the UK’s Generation Y (aged 18-25). Being within this generation myself I feel a common sense that we have to come to terms with helping to tackle the challenge of sustainability over our lifetime. It’s a shame that this generation showed a lack of understanding and trust in the social labels.
I interviewed fashion retailers to find out what they thought of the effectiveness of the labels. Because until we get used to seeing social labels used by retailers and on clothing rails how can we be expected to recognise and understand them? The awareness of social labels even varied between retailers, and the process of certifying our clothes can not only be costly but unsurprisingly complicated.
The good news is we have better information access than ever before. But our labels don’t tell the full story. Every label represents a hidden story of connections, from the farmer who grew the cotton, the man who spun the threads, to the lady who sewed them together. On Fashion Revolution Day, 24 April, we will challenge brands and retailers to take responsibility for the individuals and communities that their businesses depends on, by asking ‘who made my clothes?’. Our labels need to stop cutting out the information we want.
Fashion revolution day is all about highlighting our clothes labels for one day. Last year this made me more aware of the information which is cut out, but the day after I sadly felt it was too easy to forget about the important message behind the campaign. So this year I thought: let’s cut off our clothes labels at the end of the day.
Join us in cutting out our clothes labels and asking the question #whomademyclothes? By sticking your labels to the #FashRev wall, we want to send a powerful message of thanks to the people who made our clothes, and show support for greater transparency throughout the fashion supply chain. We want the fashion industry to cut out unethical and unsustainable practices. The aim is to cut at least 1,133 labels, the same number of people who died at Rana Plaza, creating a huge artistic installation in London!
If you want the fashion industry to ‘cut out’ unethical practices and if you want to know #whomademyclothes, then join us and #cutout your labels on 24th April.
Find your University Representative in London and cut out your labels by searching for our Facebook event: ‘FRD cut out’
OR come to the Cube in Shoreditch after 6pm to cut your labels and see the whole installation come together!
The Cube, Studio 5, 155 Commercial Street, London E1 6BJ
Upload photos of you cutting your labels with hashtags #Fashrev #whomademyclothes #cutout
We’ll be re-gramming some of your photos @Fash_rev and @marianne.caroline