#Who made my clothes

My friend and a fashion designer Maja Štamol. And the seamstress who is her employee. I saw the sketches of the new collection, searched for the fabric and… after a few minutes I was already worrying about the fact that I didn’t even ask how the textile was made, how many toxins it contains, how the workers felt while making it. Most of them aren’t even fed, let alone happy.

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Ljubljana Fashion Week isn’t just an opportunity for Slovenian designers to introduce themselves, but also an opportunity to think about our attitude towards fashion.

The true cost

About a month ago, when I was still full of wonderful memories from our family vacations in Indonesia, I watched the film The True Cost. A cold slap, a clench in my gut and an outburst towards the fashion industry… after that I am never stepping into a fast fashion store like H&M and Zara ever again. The documentary has lifted all the veils of the fashion industry, and portrayed it from every angle possible; from their side of successful bidders, to ours of the happy consumers. An the sides of the not so nice profiles in between; the cotton manufacturers, spinners, zip makers and seamstresses… The film has opened the doors to a world of inequality, destruction of environment, human exploitation, and has created a draft and some space in my head for new and fresh thinking. It ties the coloured parts of clothing from the entire world, truths that complete a mosaic, that is not as beautiful as fashion should be. I am thankful to a group of three members under the baton of Andrew Morgan, for having the courage and showing me a hard (yet digestible) and unforgettable story, and “invited” me to start creating a better fashion industry and give more thought to the subject of WHO made my clothes.

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I can’t afford anything else

Who am I? Our style is probably the one thing that speaks genuinely about who we are. People have been portraying their social status through their clothes since forever, who they are, what they wish to be. It seems like fast fashion enabled us to do this even more, and we can change into a different person every day by just using our clothes. Today’s fashion is more affordable, but who pays its price? Is it like this because of the mass production, bad quality and cheap material? … I’ve stopped looking the other way after I’ve seen the movie, and the famous saying about clothing making the man, has a totally different meaning to me now. I ask myself, what kind of a person are you if you enjoy buying these things despite knowing that your sweater has a whole spectre of negative energy, toiled away sweat and even blood sown into it. If this is truly the only thing you can afford, then will you still buy the same shirt in another colour? Don’t you believe that you really can (trans)form the fashion industry with every new purchase?

Fashion Revolution

Fashion is my passion… I enjoyed it ever since my grandmother made my first dresses, I could rummage through my mothers buttons, and since I created my first Barbie collection. This is why it’s hard for me to grasp at the fact that fashion is one of the main consumers of water, destroyers of ecosystems and exploiters of people. After watching the movie, I’ve thought a lot about how I could co create a better tomorrow for fashion. Most of the conversations with my colleagues ended in “you can’t do it alone” and “it’s just the way it is”. This is why I was jumping up and down when I heard about the Fashion Revolution. An organisation that ever since the tragic incident on April 24. 2013 in a Bangladesh factory Rana Plaza, where a building crumbled due to bad construction work, and killed 1134 workers, is leading movements, raising awareness and connecting people with the same agenda from all over the world, into the fashion revolution. We wish for a cleaner, safer, more responsible and transparent fashion industry, that respects people, the environment, creativity and equal distribution of profits.

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Even if there wasn’t more than 10.000 of us, I know now that I can do more than look the other way, and that I’m capable of doing it ON MY OWN. I’m a fashion revolutionary because

I SHOP RESPONSIBLY

  • I only buy things that are necessary.
  • I choose pieces I will wear for at least five years.
  • I turn to Slovenian designers first, when I’m searching for an item I want, most of the time to Maja Štamol, because I cherish their work and I know which mouths will be fed with my money.
  • I shop at, and thus also support second hand shops.
  • Instead of buying three (cheap) shirts, I buy one (probably more expensive one), that is also of better quality. I’m super happy if it’s made in Slovenia, from Eco cotton, or that I at least know the fabric’s origin.
  • Before I take the item for checkout, I ask myself once again if I really need it and why. Because it will comfort me, or make me feel better, because I can simply afford it, or because I truly need it?

I LOVE MY CLOTHES

  • I don’t own a lot of clothes, but there are a lot of pieces that I’ve really taken to heart and have been wearing them for a long time.
  • A lot of times I redesign the clothes, dye them, or decorate them according to the latest trends.
  • Me and my friends exchange the stuff I haven’t been wearing more than a year, for other things.
  • I gift the things they don’t end up taking, to other people or foundations. I never take the clothes to Humana or throw them into recycle containers at fast fashion shops like H&M, because in most cases they end up selling them to developing countries, here by consequentially destroying their local dressmaking.
  • I cherish hand crafting, so I take glittery details, lace and patches from my unworn clothes, to decorate my other pieces.

I SPREAD THE REVOLUTION

  • I’ll encourage my friends to shop more responsibly.
  • I’ll write more blog posts on this topic (expect tips on how to easily redesign your old clothes, a selection of the best Eco brands, an introduction to Slovenian fashion…).
  • I will support the Fashion Revolution by visiting them in Slovenia. On Saturday, April 23., we’ll be in the Movinun pop-up shop on Mestni Trg 2 in Ljubljana, rummaging through clothes and accessories, find out all there is to know about fashion revolution and ethical, timeless fashion, and discovered the softness of organic cotton. You can read more about the event here.
  • Before the end of spring, I’m planning to organise a clothing exchange for my friends.
  • I will organise an event that will encourage people to give a sober thought to fashion and creativity.
  • From now on, I’ll ask myself more often WHO made my clothes (#whomademyclothes).
  • I’ll search for European #fairtrade and #sustainable brands.

The million dollar question

In a research which you can read on fashionrevolution.org, they discovered that more than half of the brands don’t even know where their clothes, buttons and zips are being manufactured… They’re all to ready to invest an enormous amount of money into getting to know their consumers, yet they give little thought to who actually makes their products, or in what conditions. This part is crucial, because only by learning all the facts, will they be able to start acting responsibly. Transparency, information and honesty, are the things you’re entitled to as a consumer. Ask yourself more than just “does this suite me?”. Send out a signal, that you care about where your money is being invested towards. Turn your clothes inside out and take a picture of the tag. Share this selfie on any social media platform using the hashtag #whomademyclothes, tag the brand and ask them to answer your questions. Some of them won’t answer. Others will only tell you where the clothes were being sown. The pioneers will show you that they also know something about the people that make their clothes. The best will ask you for the item’s code and will get back to you with all the answers and details, maybe even a photo of the person who made your shirt. More than 10.000 people have done this, and the answers are getting more and more interesting, perfected, and lead to the revolution of the fashion industry.

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If you’re reading through these lines, I know that you care about this Who made my clothes movement. I hope you join this fashion revolution and spread its message. You can do it by simply sharing this post, or post a picture on Instagram using the mentioned #. Of course I’m also interested in your perception of today’s fashion industry, so I will be thankful if you share your opinions, questions, ideas…

 

Shine bright,

Nika

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Photography:  Fashion Revolution, Klemen Razinger for LJFW

This post is also available in: Slovenian

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