ISSUE 1 - 2012
ISSUES IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY
ISSUES IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY
Image from EJFoundation #withfilter
ISSUE I EXPLOITATION NOVEMBER 2012
CREATIVE DIRECTION Mariana Lourenço GRAPHIC DESIGNER Prudence Djajadi PHOTOGRAPHY Jeanne Büchi Andre Titcombe TEXTS Carol Aquino Anastasia Miari Aeniima Shelly Asquith Mariana Lourenço COMIC ILLUSTRATION Clarissa R.
STYLING Mariana Lourenço www.marianalourenco.tumblr.com
CONTRIBUTORS Jinny Hong Melody Chai Ayesha Ali Meganne Galivo Mandeep Bajwa Lily Newmark Laura Rzemieniecka Ivory Bella Min KyungKim Alejandro Romero Nassia Matsa Ross Mackay
MAKE UP Laura Rzemieniecka
COVER MODEL Melody Chai PHOTOGRAPHY Jeanne Büchi www.jeannebuechi.ch PHOTOGRAPHER ASSISTANT Alejandro Romero
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ABOUT Dislike is a fanzine that explores fashion in a different way. Our mission is to investigate some issues with the fashion industry in a creative and interactive way, using different medias to expose those problems. Since we are on the digital age is important for us to explore all the possibilities to transmit our message, but as most social medias only aloud you to like things, we come here in print, as well as online, hoping we found other people that would dislike fashion issues as much as we do. 4
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EDITOR’S LETTER Hello Readers! I guess if you are reading this now something about this fanzine intrigued you. This is our first issue and we will be talking a little bit about exploitation in the fashion industry to start. First of all let me explain a bit about my love/hate relationship with fashion: I’ve been working on the industry for about 7 years and I pass by different areas such as retail, design and PR before I discovered that what I really liked was styling and creative direction. I did several internships and I worked for free or much less than the minimum wage loads of times. I pass most of my time doing lame tasks, carrying heavy boxes and bags and walking around the city with suitcases doing returns. I can’t even count how many times I worked after normal hours during shoots an their preparations. Obviously I learned a lot, but I also felt exploited most of the time. But despite this I still like fashion, after all that’s what I want to do for living and what pays the bills in the end of the month. What I do dislike is the issues of an industry that exploits their workers in any area, from production to retail passing through the creative roles.
The glamorous side we see on the adverts or inside the stores will not be shown here, but we will use fashion as a creative tool to express taboo subjects. Even though the fashion industry is also well known for animal and natural resources exploitation, in this first issue we will focus on the human beings. Can you imagine how many people are being exploited in the fashion industry? Is hard to see when you are reading a lovely fashion magazine or buying cheap trends at the high street, but here we are not afraid to show the dark side of the industry where child labour and sweatshops are common things. You will notice that our fanzine is quite interactive which makes it easy to participate online sharing your own experiences. Click on your imaginary ‘dislike button’ and be ready to share your thoughts on our Facebook page. Hope you are read to dislike our first fashion issue, because exploitation shouldn’t be aloud in any industry!
Mariana Lourenço @mixandmary A mix of stylist, assistant, MA student, London lover and iPhone filmmaker. www.mixandmary.tumblr.com/ 5
CONTRIBUTORS Thanks to all the contributors who collaborated in this issue. Discover a little bit more about them in this page.
Prudence Djajadi @pdjajadi MA Graphic Design Communication, Chelsea/ Graphic Designer/ Illustrator/ Moviemaking, Music, and Photography Enthusiast/ London-based// www.prudencedjajadi.com Jeanne B端chi @Jeanne_buchi Swiss Fashion photographer based in London inspired by art, movies, death, literature, symbols, blog, dreams, nature, light, music and love. www.jeannebuechi.ch Carol Aquino @queroaquino Brazilian-born; now a quaint mix of Carioca and Londoner. Fashion Journalist specialized in trend forecasting and business of fashion. www.trendmenu.com.br
Clarissa R. @margaridak Fashion designer working in PR & apparently, illustrating! Based in London: love all but the weather! ARTS, music, weird things. Hate boring!
Anastasia Miari @anastasia_miari Freelance Writer/FoodSnob inspired by film, fashion and the arts. www.guisemagazine.com/
Aeniima @aeniima Fashion design and pattern cutting student at LCF, trying to reshape peoples’ perception of social and material issues through left politics. www.aeniiima.tumblr.com/ Jinny Hong South Korean freelancer/fashion management student at LCF based in London, has worked as Fashion editor, Illustrator and Art+Fashion blogger. blog.naver.com/moulondon Andre Titcombe Fine art and Fashion Photographer who works with analogue media’s to create alternative fashion images. www.allthecool.blogspot.co.uk Laura Rzemieniecka @laurakate21 Makeup artist just graduated from London College of Fashion who’s passion is being inspired by london and the people in it to create art through makeup. www.laurakatemua.tumblr.com Ivory Bella Freelance makeup artist, has experience in a range of makeup from fashion spreads to theatre. Inspired by the unexplored and the unexpected. www.ivorybella.webs.com
Shelly Asquith ‘Student at Central Saint Martins and trade union activist. Chair, TUC young members’ network (S&E regions)’
ISSUE 1 CONTENTS 3
Chloe and Melissa: At The Internship
The Real Fashion Victims
The Unseen Cost of Cotton
Fashion Victim Editorial
Cotton Children Editorial
Pinching Their Pennies, Saving Our Pounds
The Two Sided Face of Fashion Internships
Ethical Fashion: A Response to Exploitation In The Supply Chain Modelsâ€™ Rights
THE REAL FASHION VICTIMS
ashion Victim is a term commonly used to describe people that like alter their style season to season to follow the last trend. Vulnerable to faddishness and materialism they have a admiration for designer brands and will often be seen wearing two many trends at once, regardless if it matches their personal style or not. But in an industry where the new trend changes almost every day, is a fact that obsessive consumers and fashion addicts are not the only victims fashion can make. From designers’ ateliers, passing through the process of manufacturing, to exposing the products in the media, we can find the real victims of this industry. There are actually several types of them, and they can be found in all the areas of fashion. Some can be more exploited than others, and would be difficult to compare the poor child in Uzbekistan, obligated to leave the classroom to work in the cotton fields, with the fashion student working hard on a unpaid internship, so one day he or she could have the dream job. Their future possibilities, the reasons and how they are exploited is completely different, but in a way they are victims of
a system that takes advantage of anyone inside it. There is a new scandal all the time. High street brands being discovered using sweatshops or child labour to produce their collections. Models exploited by their agents or sexual arrested by famous photographers. Designers and magazines avoiding hiring staff, as they manage to survive from the free labour of their interns working long hours. And that’s only to mention a few cuz if we talk about animal rights too we will have material for a whole new edition… Those are the real victims fashion can make, doesn’t matter if is in the supply chain or creative jobs, that is always someone being exploited. That is how the industry works, how the system survives and how the others fashion victims keep their wardrobe updated. Text - Mariana Lourenço
PHOTOGRAPHER Andre Titcombe STYLING Mariana Lourenรงo MAKE UP/HAIR Minkyung Kim MODEL Lily Newmark PHOTOGRAPHER ASSISTANT Nassia Matsa 11
‘Fashion is Death’ T-shirt From Destroy Pop
‘Save the Future’ - Organic Cotton T-shirt From EJFoundation Shop
‘Thousands of Childhoods Lost’ Organic Cotton T-shirt From EJFoundation Shop 21
Special thanks to Daniel Robins for providing the location.
PINCHING THEIR PENNIES,
ith Europe dangerously teetering on the precipice of financial crisis once more,spending as little as possible on those ‘essentials’ is a talent that fashion savvy civilians (i.e the non-Made In Chelsea girls of this world) are proud to divulge. Most of us are guilty of ‘shopping and telling’- confessing that the coveted graphic print dress the girls have been admiring over lunch isn’t from Topshop,‘No, it’s Primarni babe’. But while we’re saving our hard earned cash, whose pennies are we actually pinching?
2008 saw esteemed BBC documentary Panorama expose fast-fashion favourite,Primark. Children as young as nine were found working at a factory in Indiaunder grim conditions. Primark bosses have since accused the BBC of staging the footage. Despite the allegations made against the BBC, Paul Collins, a charity official at the War on Want foundation insists, “Many consumers are still concerned about the human cost behind the fashion world”. While many foundations’ websites including The Ethical Fashion Forum, War on Want and Labour Behind the Label provide ample research on ethical trading, picking through the mesh of reports, facts and figures is a vocation for the already converted so we asked Paul for a lowdown that is worthy of the ethical fashion novice. Since the Panorama expose in 2008, we have become increasingly aware of the ‘made in India’ label beside
SAVING OUR POUNDS the washing instructions on our clothes. Low wages,unrealistic targets and long hours for workers in Gurgaon, the newly industrialized hub of India, mean that we can get a racer back cardigan in the style of Alexander Wang for the bargain sum of £3. Less than what a tailor in Gurgaon will make in a single day. Factories in Nepal, India and Bangladesh are built in zones that are exempt from legal regulations, attracting investment from Fast-Fashion brands in a race for the cheapest, most hastily produced garments. Paul highlights that out of 29 high street retailers surveyed by group Labour Behind the Label, “not one ensured its workers earned a living wage”. “Among the worst offenders were Debenhams, French Connection, Gap, Hobbs,Paul Smith, Reiss and River Island” while “Arcadia [owners of Topshop and Miss Selfridge], Burberry, H&M, Levi Strauss, New Look and Primark have also been condemned for not making
enough effort to work towards a decent wage.” Marks & Spencer, Zara and Monsoon scored a 3.5 on their ethical trading measures,tallying their efforts to increase wages at the highest grading though sustainable implementation of an effective wage policy is yet to be seen.
‘Bargain Babe’ While we can refuse to work for a penny under the minimum wage, the garment worker forced to shakily piece together our French Connection office blazer at the end of a 16 hour toil is refused a ‘living wage’ that covers her need for food,clean water, shelter, clothes, education, health care and transport. A craving for HighEnd fashion with a High-Street price tag demands that workers on paltrywages are demanded to work over-time in order to meet impossible targets. The International Labour Organisation deems involuntary overtime as forced labour but Paul reveals, “Bangladesh, amongst the world’s poorest countries,
‘Not one ensured its workers earned a living wage’ -Paul Collins-
relies on garment exports for 80 per cent of its foreign earnings”. Without the right papers and unable to vote, Bangladeshi immigrants that swap abject rural poverty for urban industrial work in India fear the authorities. Swap the rock for sickness and starvation and the hard place for a dingy sweatshop and the analogy becomes oh-so poignant. The facts are swallowed and on reading them we nod, comment on how awful it is and vow to never shop at Primark again. The reality is that most high street stores have failed to meet the demands for a living wage, we are lured in by Topshop’s latest window display and we will buy that leather skirt because Alexa Chung tweeted about it last night. Striving to be on the inside, be it mainstream or subculture, part of being human is our need to feel included. Even high earning celebs that can afford ethically sourced garments fall off the fair trade bandwagon. Emma Watson, a pioneer for ethical trading, was the face of Burberry
for two years. Still snapped sporting the iconic brand whose owners refuse to apply a living wage for its suppliers, Watson promotes ‘fashion as a way to alleviate poverty’.
Stepping Stones. Be it a disgusting, capitalist, consumerist cycle in which selfish and superficial demands tug at the puppet strings of prole suppliers, a refusal to buy into the Fashion Industry would result in catastrophic results for the world’s economy. The answers don’t lie in boycott, Paul tells us. “Our goals at War on Want are to persuade the British government on the need for legal curbs which ensure good pay and conditions for garment workers.” Paul highlights the following as key stepping stones to guilt free shopping on the high street: Overseeing the implementation of international labour laws is crucial – the Government and Brand owners have
the power to do this and the public have the power to contact both and demand change. Agreement on an appropriate living wage- the cost of living in one region may not correspond with another. Brand owners must agree to all pay a standard living wage decided by the government that is proportionate to the needs of workers in the area that supply their garments. If a factory is made more efficient by improvement in planning and bringing in technology, workers are able to work less while producing more. Efficiency savings can then be used to pay workers.…Considering CEO of Marks & Spencer, Mark Bolland can afford to pay the living wage of 10,000 garment workers on his wage alone, a small investment to ensure the efficiency of the brands’ factories is permitted? While the Western world’s economy hangs in the balance, a bargain buy has never been so lusted after. Preventative
measures are being taken to ensure that we don’t fall into poverty but if that were to happen, the small steps taken by others to alleviate our plight and prevent our exploitation could make all the difference. Text - Anastasia Miari Illustration - Jinny Hong
EDIS FACE THE TWO DSIDED OF INTERNSHIPS IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY
ost fashion students will all have experienced what it is like to be an intern, or will have heard of the importance of doing an internship, when aspiring to a career in the fashion industry. So the question is, what doors do internships open up and how valuable are the experiences students gain from them?
students to take part in these courses, as the fashion industry is fierce with only one job for 150 students. Not only do these figures put students under immense pressure, but also, they have to make time to go to all these meetings, to “network” as they are studying very challenging and time consuming courses.
In most cases internships in the fashion industry require a lot of work, often the same as full-time employees, but unlike them, they are often un- or poorly paid. So one would think after having worked so hard, doing the same labor as a full timer and having unjustly not been paid, that “this will all eventually pay off” and a great job offer with a decent salary is to come, right after finishing university or this work experience.
With the fashion industry only growing by 1% a year, the prospects of becoming a designer, or working for one, look rather grim. This leads fashion students to believe that exhausting yourself, attending work preparation meetings and trying your best on your course just may not cover it.
As some people may find it easier to get into the industry, as they have done the right amount of “networking”, most graduates struggle to find their ways into the industry. UAL (University of the Arts London) offers programs for students, next to their studies, to develop their CVs, portfolios and give them training as to how they can get a job in the industry more easily. As they know themselves, they advise
Often it is suggested to network during studies, to meet leading people in the fashion industry and to try to get a foot in the door through them. One might assume that it is becoming more and more about who you know and not necessarily what you know.
So, the question comes up, what there is to do for one to get work.
But why is it becoming increasingly difficult for people to enter the fashion industry? Can it be that it is only open
to you if you happen to know the right people? Fashion businesses are mostly not seeking to employ students, although they would need the additional labor, to not rely on mostly interns to get the job done.
wages, the fashion lines are not what keep the labels alive. Increasingly brands have launched â€œmore affordableâ€? labels, which next to bags, shoes and perfumes are the most profitable goods of brands, as they more in reach for people with low/average wages.
One of the reasons for this might be that the selling of high end fashion has become less and less profitable, as it is becoming less and less affordable for the masses, as wages are going down. Not even the employed who work in these industries, have the wages to buy back the goods which they have produced. These garments are made for the wealthier layer of society and are not for the consumption of the masses. Because of this and the decrease in
The recession and the decline of capitalism force firms to cut wages and staff in order to stay competitive. The growth prospects of capitalism in the fashion business are barely to be seen and look frightening for anyone looking to start a possible career in it. However, the industries rely on staff, so unpaid internships are the result. They need the staff and would have the money to pay for them, but the market and the competition doesnâ€™t allow them to. It is
a contradiction within capitalism, which excludes talented, fresh new minds from participating in the industry.
when which family you were born into determined who you were able to become?
It should be in anyone’s favor, who is interested in creating clothing, for people to be able to buy back these goods one has made. But economics and business stand in the way of this, as they are interested in profits only. The fashion industry is sadly not a way of expressing creativity anymore, but mostly a way of selling. It doesn’t matter what, as long as it sells. Are high street brands the only future for creative minds? Producing everything more cheaply, faster and therefore creating more and more exploitation to stay in competition? Craftsmanship is dying away and taken over by narrow work under mass production, where people don’t learn how to make a complete garment anymore and may have to sit in factories continuously sewing one part of the whole piece. Under capitalism good job education and quality are fading away. We learn and know less than tailors years ago, but also we can’t spend time on detail and quality anymore, as everything needs to sell as cheaply and quickly as possible.
It is evident that we are in a state of moving backwards.
So, who has the chance to step into the fashion industry, as high costs of living also play a role. Who can afford this lifestyle without an income? Is it an industry created by the middle class or wealthier classes only for the wealthy? Who can actually buy back all these goods, which are produced, if they are nowhere near being in reach for the ordinary person? Is this the democracy and the equal opportunity our system claims to give, or are we returning to the old days, 30
What is the solution to this and how can we master our lives and not become victims of the capitalist system, as the recession is deepening more and more? We need to nationalize the big industries and stop the capitalist system, as the gaps between rich and poor are becoming bigger and bigger. Only through these measures we can give equal opportunities to the people and stop this exploitation and downfall of the (fashion) industries. We should not accept the positions we are in, just because we haven’t “known them any other way”. Furthermore, shouldn’t it be a modest demand to get good and free education and a well-paid job in a career one has learned and enjoys doing? In the period of capitalism we are in, it is not. Text - Aeniima
Exploited working with a British fashion designer that participates on London Fashion Week.
I made an internship in a major upcoming British design, where I had no expenses paid and sometimes worked from 9am to 8pm doing silly tasks, even fixing their tables and chairs. My boss wanted me to stay minimum 6 months but I gave up after being exploited for more than 2 months.
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Exploited working in a independent bi-monthly fashion publication from London.
While I was interning in a well-known British magazine, I realise why independent magazines had so many interns. They are basically saving money from couriers sending their interns all around the city to do returns. Most of the time I spent the whole day only doing that and going from east to west London with heavy suitcases. My travel expenses were not covered at all, but luckily I had a student oyster card at the time. There was an intern there that didnâ€™t have an oyster, so each time she left the office to do returns she was basically paying to work.
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Exploited working with a celebrity fashion stylist from New York.
I have never interned with a stylist before so had no clue what to expect but was eager to learn. I met the assistant who seemed lovely at first but when it came to shoot day she seemed to have something against me. She immediately bonded with the other intern and made my experience hell. I pretty much did most of the dirty work while the other intern chatted around with assistant. When it came to do all the returns, I was stuck with all the big/ heavy returns and locations that were on the other side of the city. She kept calling me to say I am late when I had already dropped off the pieces to their locations. My brand new suitcase broke because she made me stuff everything in it and insisted I come back for more. She made it obvious that she did not like me. By the end of the internship, I had a broken suitcase, blisters all over my hands from dragging my broken suitcase around the city and a desire to never style again. 5 months later, I have yet to be paid for my expenses.
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Scan and share your experience too on our Facebook page The real names of the interviewed were replace by nicknames to preserve our contributorsâ€™ identity.
COSTS OF COTTON
otton balls have been transformed into fabric since prehistoric times, with archaeologists finding small swathes of fabric dating from 5000 BC in places such as Mexico and Pakistan. Today it is the most widely used natural fibre cloth in clothing. Although cultivated since antiquity, it was the invention of the cotton gin – a machine that quickly and easily separates cotton fibres from their seeds – that lowered the cost of production and led to its widespread use. Nowadays, cotton accounts for 2.5% of the world’s arable land and current production estimates are about 25 million tonnes per year. Yet, most people are completely unaware on how cotton is produced, how labourintensive the industry is and how damaging to the environment it can be – especially when produced in the massive quantities required to satisfy manufacturers’ demands. When we think all-around clothing that is comfortable, natural and breathable, cotton always come to mind. It has also
been presented as a ‘cleaner’ alternative to all the man-made fabrics that have invaded our wardrobes since the 1960s. A lot has been said about the perils of polyester and similar synthetic fibres, with its association to oil and pollution being the most common argument. The cotton industry has played with more than the notion of natural versus man-made, instigating consumers into thinking that the more ‘natural’ the fabric, the better for the environment and its user. Synthetic fibres are seen by some as ‘the devil’, and the right way for humanity to move forward is by taking advantage of these little white fluffy balls instead. What most people forget (or just don’t know) is that cotton production is extremely labour-intensive and demanding of its surroundings. While cotton doesn’t need a particularly fertile soil, it demands an abundance of water and an equal amount of pesticides to protect the fragile fibres from bugs and larvae. And whereas the environment
can concern many, worse can be said about the work conditions in cotton fields. Development of new techniques and machinery has increased productivity of harvests to fulfil the ever increasing demand for cloth. Nevertheless, some of the world’s largest cotton producers still rely on cheap labour. Especially on developing countries, where it is still less expensive to pay below minimumwage rather than invest on expensive machinery and ever increasing oil prices. Unfortunately this isn’t new: throughout history, slaves were used mostly in agriculture simply because working in fields is – until today – one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Cotton was one of the reasons of the North American Civil War, as over three million slaves were brought in to work on the Southern states solely on cotton fields. At some point, one in three people in the Southern states of America were slaves, and this contributed to the feud between the Northern and Southern states’ beliefs about slavery. The Civil War accounted for
more deaths than all other wars the US has ever participated. History, as we might know, has a tendency of repeating itself. Nowadays slavery has been banned around the globe, but in several developing countries the same sort of exploitation occurs, with cotton workers being exposed to abuse, horrible working conditions and little to no pay. Life expectancy is substantially lower than other types of work, given the constant exposure to pesticides and chemicals without protection, and the overall hardship of the job. In countries such as China, Brazil, Pakistan, India, or the former Soviet Republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, poor working conditions are the norm. In some of these countries the involvement of the government enforcing that cotton production isn’t stopped by ‘mere’ human rights issues is also the norm. For example, Uzbekistan is the 6th largest producer and 2nd largest
exporter of raw cotton in the world. It is unique for the forced state mobilisation of schoolchildren during the annual cotton harvest. Estimates suggest as many as 2 million children as young as 9 years old have their schools shut for 2-3 months each year whilst they work on the cotton fields. While this is already completely unacceptable, children aren’t the only ones who are affected. Uzbekistan’s three million agricultural workers receive a fraction of the true value of their cotton, and are often obligated to plant cotton in detriment of any other type of crop, including subsistence. Revenues are monopolised by the country’s government which acquires cotton crops via a corrupt system of compulsory state procurement and uses the funds to consolidate its control of the Uzbek population. Nowadays, estimates are that around 90% of cotton produced in Uzbekistan is hand-picked. Child labour is booming as authorities are keen to lower production costs and make sure that government-
imposed production quotas are met. Migration of adult workers to other countries where cotton production is not so strictly controlled has worsened the situation and more children have been drafted to make up the labour shortfall. This isn’t even the tip of the iceberg of what’s happening in Central Asia – and on most raw cotton producing nations, for that matter. The farming industry is one of the main contributors to the pollution and devastation of the air and water in Central Asia, with cotton production all but drying up the Aral Sea – once the world’s 4th largest inland body of water and now reduced to just 50% of its former volume. All due to appalling mismanagement of this vital water resource – used largely for cotton production – by the Soviet authorities and their successors. Decades of questionable Soviet policies in pursuit of greater cotton production have resulted in a catastrophic scenario with regards to human rights and environmental issues. This is ironic when the key idea behind the Soviet revolution was to end the
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â€˜Estimates suggest as many as 2 million children as young as 9 years old have their schools shut for 2-3 months each year whilst they work on the cotton fields.â€™
exploitation of workers. The effects of producing cotton are also felt on smaller nations, like in Tanzania. Cotton farming provides employment to over 40% of the population, contributes with 15% to 20% of the country’s GNP and is the second largest source of foreign exchange. Countries like these only harvest raw cotton without investing in techniques or machinery to make the final product. In contrast, they import cotton-based garments and materials at much higher prices, contributing to perpetuate inequality. Even in the USA, where cotton is 100% mechanically harvested, there are problems with subsidies and irregularities concerning international trade. By reducing labour on its cotton crops in detriment of machinery and offering fairer working conditions, cotton growers have to rely on government subsidies to keep prices internationally competitive. This sort of practise is prohibited by the World Trade Organisation but remains in place in the US. Cotton production is far from ‘clean’, as some marketers try to make us believe. There are countless stories about exploitation in yarn mills across India, unlawful discharge of chemicals and bleach in water basins during the production of fabrics and – as most of us know through TV programmes – scandals involving child labour to make £1 sequin tops for major high-street retailers. All of this to get your natural, breathable and comfortable item of clothing. On the end-consumer side, the impending question is: how clothes can be produced in ethical, sustainable
ways when prices charged in most high street shops should be the value paid for a day’s work in the fields? Despite the recent economic slowdown, local shopping centres get further swamped with stores offering goods “inspired” by catwalk looks for a small fraction of their price tag. Customers keep flooding in, lured by the promise of a ‘stylish self’ on the cheap. The lower end of the fashion industry has always sold products on the basis of a short lifespan and that garments would be discarded in favour of new ones as frequently as possible. Within this model there is no room for concerns about the sustainability of the supply chain, the environment, and recycling. The end result is a conundrum. Do we keep a massive share of Western retail solely based on conspicuous consumption which, in turn, employs thousands of people? Should we ban trade from countries such as Uzbekistan without giving farmers alternative means of subsistence? Should we stop using cotton and look for more sustainable and ethical fibres? Unfortunately, there is no easy solution for a problem involving so many people. The cold hard truth is that we are way too many to not have an impact on the environment or on work conditions; all this has a hidden cost that not seen on the price tag. We should strive to assure fair wages and decent living standards for everyone in the world but we have to accept that, as a consequence, we cannot expect to buy 50 pence tops in our high streets. Text - Carol Aquino Image - EJFoundation #Collage 39
COTTON CHILDREN PHOTOGRAPHER Jeanne Buchi STYLING Mariana Lourenรงo PHOTOGRAPHER ASSISTANT Alejandro Romero MAKE UP AND HAIR Laura Rzemieniecka and Ivory Bella MODELS Melody Chai, Ayesha Ali, Meganne Galivo and Mandeep Bajwa 40
ETHICAL FASHION: A RESPONSE TO EXPLOITATION IN THE SUPPLY C H A I N
ince being, or at least trying to be, more sustainable is becoming a big trend right now; ethical fashion is gaining more visibility within the fashion industry. In Berlin, eco and sustainable fashion are growing in such a way that Berlin Fashion Week website dedicates a whole selection of shops and brands related to the subject. Buying clothes at
places specialized in ethical, recycled or sustainable fashion is one of the best ways to avoid exploitation in the fashion supply chain. In a visit to Berlin we spoke with Benny, one of the founders of SupermarchĂŠ, a shop specialized in fair trade, hand made and organic street wear and other goods. Apart from selling several
local brands they also have their own hand made label, Hirschkind. He gives us a few insights about ethical products and explains a bit more about his brand. How do you come up with the idea of starting Supermarché? “In 2009 we had enough of unsaved jobs and started our own shop: Supermarché – handmade*organic*fair was born.” What is ethical fashion to you? “Fashion, which is made under respect for people and environment. And in the end it is important that the clothes are affordable.” Could you tell us a bit more of the criterias stated on the website (fair trade, recycled and hand made). “Our criterias for products are fair trade, handmade or made in small companies/workshops in the region, made of organic or recycled material. Fair trade: means (for us) that the producers of raw material get a living wage. That people on farms and in factories are treated well. No child labour and the right to unite for example. Recycled: We have some up cycling products like bags made out of old air-beds or purses from old tubes. Hand made: We support small workshops and people who craft things in and around Berlin. For us the best business is a business that is near so that there is no need for unnecessary transportation. Organic: The products are made from organic cotton, bamboo or other material that is not chemical treated. This is most
Ben’s wear ‘’Berliner Pflanze’’ T-shirt sewed in a workesowned factory in Nicaragua. It is made of organic cotton and all the supply chain is sweatshop free. Printed by hand by Nici and Ben with water based screen print colours. 53
important for those who work with the cotton plants for example. Concerning our criteria the best products are from fair-trade organic cotton, sewed in Berlin. But reaching one of the criteria is much better than most of the products you can buy in normal shops.” So does all the products on the store are considered ethical some how? “Yes.” How do you choose the brands that you sell on the shop? “First of all we have to like them. Then they have to have our standards. By labels as GOTS/fair wear... or because we know the people who make things and they know the sources of their materials.” Could you tell us a bit more about your own label, Hirschkind? “We do screen print by hand on shirts, bed cloth, tea towels and sometimes on plates and mugs. We are a team of 2. Benny and Nici. First we printed at home on Benny’s kitchen table. And because we got more and more shirts we started to sell them on markets and online. From the start it was important for us that we sell shirts that are ethical made.”
Nici wears ‘’Dandelion’’ T-shirt, made of fair-trade Indian organic cotton from a small cotton-farmers family. It was also sewed in India under fair conditions and printed by Ben and Nici. 54
Supermarché also present Handmade Supermarket, what exactly is the event and how the brand supports it?
“Handmade Supermarket is a monthly handmade and fair trade market in our neighbourhood. We support it by running the market because Supermarché and Handmade Supermarket are made by the same people, Nici and me.” We found Supermarché through Berlin Fashion Week website, how do you relate with the event? “Not really. We are a small local brand and all I see on Berlin Fashion Week looks like big business to me. But I appreciate that they take small events like Handmade Supermarket into their program.” Do you believe ethical and sustainable fashion is growing in Berlin?
“Yes, but very slow because only a few people are aware of the problems in clothes production. Nowadays everybody knows about coffee or bananas but nobody wants to realize that there are similar problems in cotton, soy or whatever you grow or manufacture in so-called 3rd world countries.” Interview - Mariana Lourenço Pictures Providers - Ben and Nici
All the products featured in this article are from Hirschkind and can be found at Supermarché. Hirschkind - www.hirschkind.de Supermarché - www.supermarche-berlin.de Lausitzer Platz 11 - 10997 - Berlin
Fair-Trade Tea Towel handwoven in India in small family businesses - Is bought in cooperation with a fair-trade company and printed by Ben and Nici. 55
EQUITY MOTION 9
ou need to lose weight. You’re not tall enough. Your skin is the wrong colour. What do you mean you won’t take your top off? Won’t shave your head? Won’t work for free? If these were reasons for losing a job in most industries, you would be fighting an unfair dismissal. Unfortunately, in the fashion industry, discrimination is standard practice and unionization almost non-existent. Like with much of the entertainment industry, fashion models often begin working young and are expected to work for nothing when starting out. Even many professional models take up second and third jobs to get by. Models are met with pressure to lose weight and change other parts of their physical appearance daily; there is also still a huge under-representation of ethnic minorities in the industry. There are men and women who get by on diets of baby food to stay thin, models who are ordered to be photographed nude without prior agreement, models who are sent on jobs by agencies despite having to miss weeks of school. Many come from Eastern Europe to find work, speaking little English and with no knowledge of their legal rights. Young and migrant workers are two of the most vulnerable groups, and most likely to be receiving a poverty wage.
At London Fashion Week, men and women as young as 13 work long hours without breaks and under enormous pressure. The Models’ Sanctuary, a place where models have previously gone to receive advice and meals has this year been shut down. For too long, the British fashion industry has refused to introduce regulation. They ‘recommend’ designers not use children to model men and womenswear, but these practices are plainly ignored. Equity, the actors’ union, has created a Models’ Committee, and is calling for basic regulation of the industry to protect models’ rights. The proposals include a minimum rate for models as a first step towards ensuring a fair remuneration system, and enforcing a minimum age of 16 for all adult modeling to protect child models, as well as tackle the culture where men and women seek unachievable appearances. In order to protect young models from exploitation and exhaustion, regulation would also include a maximum working day of 10 hours, with scheduled breaks, to reflect the European Working Time Directive. And to guarantee models with dignity at work, any nudity or drastic change of appearance should be agreed prior to any contract being signed. Text - Shelly Asquith
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Issue 1 - Exploitation