Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

The Fashion Revolution: Turn to the left

Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion

November 30, 2016
4 min read

photogridThe collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh in April 2013 shocked the world. The building had been illegally extended and on 24 April the whole thing collapsed; 1,138 garment workers lost their lives and hundreds more were left with injuries that rendered them incapable of returning to work.

The date of the incident has now become Fashion Revolution Day, the centrepoint of a new movement to end exploitation in the fashion industry. The Fashion Revolution campaign seeks to raise consumer awareness, using the social media hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes. Three years after its inception, Fashion Revolution is growing – determined to ensure garment workers’ rights stay on the agenda.

Each year, Manchester’s Stitched Up Cooperative marks Fashion Revolution Day. This year, we held three events: a double-bill film screening and panel discussion, a clothes swap and an ethical fashion show.

The film event, held in partnership with the Resyntex textile recycling project at Manchester Metropolitan University, involved two films focused on very different aspects of the fashion industry. The Secret Life of Your Clothes examines what happens to the clothes we donate to charity shops, and follows a bale of clothing as it’s exported to Ghana. Clothes to Die For tells the stories of several survivors of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, all of whom face ongoing struggles as a result of the incident, including inability to work and lasting psychological trauma.

We had a full house and a lively discussion after the films, with many people eager to find out what they could do to help. We feel it’s vital to offer ideas for practical action alongside awareness-raising – the key is channelling this positive energy and encouraging people to act.

That’s why Stitched Up is currently working on a number of projects to encourage people to become actively involved in creating a fairer fashion industry. Having previously worked with Labour Behind the Label, we are establishing a regular discussion group for individuals wanting to learn more about the issues facing garment workers and campaigning for change. In May, the group participated in the Clean Clothes Campaign’s global day of action against H&M. The actions sought to hold the retailer to the promises it had made under the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh in the wake of the Rana Plaza incident – things such as ensuring factory fire escape routes were clear and doors kept unlocked. Forty-five demonstrations took place across eleven countries and the day received coverage in the press and social media worldwide.

Stitched Up also organises alternative fashion shows, seeking to democratise fashion by showcasing clothes from local, sustainable designers, modelled by real people from our community. Shoppers view the clothes up close and gain an insight into the design and production processes by speaking directly to the designers.

Our other activities include teaching clothes making, mending and upcycling workshops, hosting regular clothes swaps, selling sustainable fabrics via our reclaimed haberdashery and holding educational events for the local community such as film screenings and speakers. We’ve also set up a monthly Manchester Repair Cafe, where visitors can get help fixing broken household items.

We’d be delighted to hear from anyone in or near Manchester who’d like to get involved. And wherever you are in the world, we’d urge you to check out the Fashion Revolution website – it’s a global movement that’s growing by the day, so there’s bound to be something happening near you.

Stitched Up is an ethical fashion cooperative based in Chorlton, Manchester. www.stitchedup.coop @stitchedupuk www.fashionrevolution.org

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.
Share this article  
  share on facebook     share on twitter  

#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny

Universal credit isn’t about saving money – it’s about disciplining unemployed people
The scheme has cost a fortune and done nothing but cause suffering. So why does it exist at all? Tom Walker digs into universal credit’s origins in Tory ideology

Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke

The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana

Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth

Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company

You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild

Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University

This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback

Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein

Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up

Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement

‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic

Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden

There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright

Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones

‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression

Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death

‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum

The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes

Naomi Klein: the Corbyn movement is part of a global phenomenon
What radical writer Naomi Klein said in her guest speech to Labour Party conference

Waiting for the future to begin: refugees’ everyday lives in Greece
Solidarity volunteer Karolina Partyga on what she has learned from refugees in Thessaloniki

Don’t let Uber take you for a ride
Uber is no friend of passengers or workers, writes Lewis Norton – the firm has put riders at risk and exploited its drivers

Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project

Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson

New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power

What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains

The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme

Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it

The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going


9