Thursday April 24th 2014 marked the one year anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza clothing factory in Bangladesh where over 1000 people lost their lives whilst making clothes for a number of Western High Street brands. This horrific tragedy could have been avoided if Governments and brands worked together to enforce better working conditions in not only Bangladesh but other major garment producing companies. The sad reality is the majority of brands only pay attention to these issues- when we consumers make our voices heard and show that we do not want to wear clothes that have been produced through the misery of our fellow citizens on the other side of the globe. April 24th marked a day of protest on London’ s Oxford street in addition to a campaign called insideout where people were encouraged to wear their clothes inside out displaying the label and asking brands where their clothes were made.
It was also a day of sharing information on the issues surrounding garment production- something that a lot of consumers are unaware of – although this is changing especially when disasters like Rana Plaza grab the worlds attention. I went to the screening of a film,Tears in the Fabric, produced by the Rainbow Collective. Rather than focus on the failings of the numerous clothing brands involved it told a story of a mother who lost her two daughters and was struggling to raise her beautiful grandsons. People who are living in oppressive conditions usually get used to their voices not being heard, but Ms Begum, like many other people affected by the disaster, was extremely sharp and highly vocal about the injustice of the situation. You could see sadness mixed with anger in her eyes and hear it in her voice. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the scene of the factory rubble which contained a mixture of the clothes of the brands mixed with the clothes of the workers who were killed. Ms Begum and her grandsons picked up clothes showing the camera the labels of brands which were being manufactured and when doing so, without words asked the question why haven’t they compensated me and the thousands of people affected by this tragedy.
Countless lives have also been lost in clothing factory fires in countries such as Cambodia and there have also been reports of workers collapsing , being beaten, low wages…the list goes on. In the 21st century I think its time for these issues to be a thing of the past, especially when the CEO’s of the worlds largest clothing retailers are billionaires. It all boils down to recognizing that the life of a garment worker in Asia has the same value of the lives of consumers in the West. Luckily there are some clothing brands that adopt this philosophy and the screening of the Ms Begum’s story was followed with a charity auction of brands produced ethically and with sustainable principles, with proceeds going to families still waiting for compensation. Some of my favourites are shown below.
Alter Equo Jewellery
Water Puppet and Choolips
Itsy Bitsy Vintage
The momentum from the Rana Plaza is continuing and next week, Thursday May 1st the will be an Ethical Fashion Show in London with a discussion panel including Observer journalist, Lucy Siegle and founder of Fair trade clothing line People Tree, Safia Minnie. There will also be a number of brands available for sale including some hand made and vintage accessories from my boutique; www.realmoftreasure.com. To my London based followers I would love to see you at the event and I hope you all watch and share the excellent Tears in the Fabric documentary.
My Press days were continued with Lewis and Leigh PR who showcased a wonderfully colourful and quirky collection of labels. It was held in the fashionista’s favourite Sanderson Hotel in Soho. There were so many striking pieces- including the London Fashion Week AW14 collection of Sadie Clayton which can be seen on a previous post in its full spendour; http://thelaststraggler.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/lfw-aw14-the-bold-and-beautiful/ . Other brands showed the fine line than can exist between art and fashion but the ingenious designers still managed to create something wearable.
Since the launch of my boutique www.realmoftreasure.com I have been completely obsessed with handmade jewellery and was mesmerized by this enchanting collection by Lucky Little Blighters which could just have easily been seen in a sculpture gallery!
The pop art mixed with rock and roll style of Shara Hayz collection put a smile on my face.. This designer of most definitely one to watch. She featured on Rihanna’s fashion competition TV series Styled to Rock and her creations have been worn by Ana Matronic (Scissor Sisters), AME and Lara Stone.
I had a lovely conversation with one half of Beau Homme about the intriguing and unlikely inspiration behind this collection. The beautiful illustrations reveal a hidden message about the way we communicate in the social media era. Each piece is full of symbolism so wearing one of these great easy to wear pieces would make you fashionable and philisophical, without having to make a FEMEN style statement.
I love the simple but striking design of this typical effortlessly cool Scandinavian brand Orphan Bird . I’ll always love bold colours and crazy prints but brands like these make me toy with the idea f giving my wardrobe a minimalist makeunder. For now I’ll just admire!
Having just returned from an incredible mini break to Corfu, I definitely needed a fashion fix to get me over my holiday blues after heading straight back to work ( in serious day job). I couldn’t wait to escape the office each day as I knew I would be greeted with spaces full of sartorial and other treats. My first was the Ella Dror press day at London Edition Hotel in Soho. I entered a dark room which felt like a club except packed with people and lively clothes on rails. There were DJ sets from designer Fred Butler and artist Margot Bowman. I spotted some of my favourite brands and discovered some new gems.
Alex Mattson, Xander Zhou
More posts about press days and the divine island of Cofu coming soon!