Time for a fashion revolution!

We all know that having a steaming hot bath is a great way to unwind – we can listen to music, read a magazine or enjoy glass of wine whilst we let our cares melt away. It can also be an excellent place for contemplation and some of us do our best thinking whilst soaking in lavender salts. But how many of us can say we have planned a revolution from the comfort of our own bathtub?

Carry Somers, Fairtrade pioneer and founder of Pachacuti did just that. Back in the spring, Carry had a light-bulb moment. In the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed 1133 garment workers in Bangladesh, Carry, like many of her colleagues, peers and members of the public was considering what could be done to prevent a disaster like that happening again. She decided it was time for a fashion revolution.

It wasn’t long before she had enlisted the help of Orsola de Castro, another leading light in the ethical fashion world and founder of high-end upcycling brand From Somewhere. Carry and Orsola have since founded a board of 30 designers, producers, campaigners, communicators and educators who are leading this exciting revolution. Today, six months since Rana Plaza collapsed, they are marking the anniversary by telling the world about the first ever Fashion Revolution Day – 24th April 2014! It will be a day to remember those who lost their lives on 24 April this year, and an opportunity to show the world that fashion can have a brighter future.

A female homeworker in Delhi, India who is skilled in embroidery and embellishments – she is part of Ruaab, a co-operative funded by the charity TRAID who ensures members earn a regular living wage

The theme for the inaugural Fashion Revolution Day is "Who Made Your Clothes?" This encourages each of us to think about where are clothes have come from – do we know who made them; does it matter to us; if so, why?  Get involved and you will be in good company, as Carry explains:

“Fashion Revolution Day has already gathered incredible momentum on a global scale. We have been inundated with fashion industry leaders, consumers, celebrities, media all wanting to mark the occasion and revolutionise the industry. It represents a really exciting opportunity to reconnect fashion-lovers with the people who made their clothes”.

As any revolutionary worth their (bath) salt knows, every good revolution needs two things: a call to action, and a uniform - Fashion Revolution Day is no different. All you need to do to show solidarity (and have a giggle) is to turn your clothes inside-out on the day, take a picture and share it on social media and anywhere else you can think of (keep it legal though – revolutionary you may be, but I doubt Carry and Orsola will have time to bust you out of prison).

This may sound like just a bit of fun, but Orsola says, it will really be the start of something:

“With one simple gesture, , we want you to ask: "Who Makes My Clothes?" this action will encourage people to imagine the ‘thread’ from the garment to the machinist that sewed it and all the way down to the farmer that grew the cotton it was made from”.

Bomber jacket, £120 & Chinos, £55 both made in London from reclaimed materials; Squirrel Motif Pullover, £60 embroidered by women workers in India who are paid a living wage, by TRAIDremade

Hopefully this has already got you thinking about the clothes you are wearing right now, unless you are reading this on your phone in the bath, in which case the question to ask yourself might be, “who made my towelling dressing gown that is currently hanging on the back of the door/sitting in a heap on the floor”?

To offer a little inspiration, I wanted to highlight the new collection from a brand that proudly tells the story of the makers behind their collections. TRAIDremade exemplifies what it means to be a responsible and future-focused brand: they pay their producers a fair wage, use only upcycled materials, and they make clothes that look great.

Badger Motif Pullover, £60 by TRAIDremade. Reclaimed pullover hand-embroidered by members of the Ruaab cooperative in  India – women homeworkers who are paid a living wage

I asked Maria Chenoweth-Casey, founder of TRAIDremade and CEO of international development charity TRAID, who makes their clothes:

“TRAIDremade operates a short and transparent supply chain which means we know who and where our clothes have been made, and that manufacturing conditions are fair. For the AW13 collection, we have worked with a husband and wife team who run a small garment factory in Tottenham, London. The quilting used in the bum bag and coats has been done at a factory in Nottingham with recycled wadding. Plus, for this season’s knitwear, we’ve drawn on the embroidery skills of women workers in Delhi, India, who are earning the living wage as part of an embroidery co-operative aiming to provide women with secure work and fair wages.”

There are in fact around 75,000 women embroidery homeworkers in Delhi who have to rely on middle men for their work, which tends to be irregular and badly paid. Brands and producers often refuse to acknowledge that homeworkers are part of their supply chain so these skilled women are easily exploited. In 2009 Traid and the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), founded the Ruaab cooperative - through their embroidery centres they have eliminated middle men and child labour, and have even set up their own education centre for the members' children. A Ruaab social enterprise has been established and is run its members who, empowered through their cooperative, now negotiate directly with designers and international retailers.

Traidremade's AW13 collection is available online now, as well as instore at the Dalston and Camden TRAID stores.

To learn more about Fashion Revolution Day and find out how you can support the revolution, visit their website www.fashionrevolution.org.

TRAIDremade AW13 gallery

Alphabet ‘X’ Sweater, £48 & Chinos, £55. Hand-embellished end of roll jersey, and reclaimed textiles. Embellishment by women workers in India who are paid a living wage

Quilted Rucksack, £65 made from khaki linings reclaimed from the RAF and leather remnants

Quilted Wool Jacket, £120 made from luxury wool with contract sleeves

Jeans, £55 & Contrast Jumper, £45 made from reclaimed textiles

Fine cotton shirt, £55 Made from reclaimed fine cotton and contrast textiles

Luxury Italian Wool Parka, £180 made from luxury wool donated by a heritage brand

Header image: Hooded Duffle Coat, £180 made from luxury Italian wool & printed textiles.

All TRAIDremade AW13 images ©Rita Platts / TRAID

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Founder and Director of The Good Wardrobe. Lover of charity shops and mending stuff. New to Bristol. Follow on Twitter

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