The Ethical Fashion Roundup #11 | After the scandal

Image credit: Fashion Revolution

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It seems like there have been a lot of scary, scandalous headlines in fashion this year, doesn’t it? Corporate misbehaviour is hitting the mainstream press more than ever before, and it fills me with an uneasy sense of hope and shame in equal measures. There’s also a very real fear that the speed of the news cycle and the sheer scale of industry sins, combined with the miniscule attention spans we’re all scrambling to hold onto during lockdown, means that we will never be able to actually fix the underlying problems, beyond the scandal.

If you also feel a bit like you’re drowning in the sea of big bad news, remember that you do still have some bargaining chips. This is a note to self as much as one to you, because without visible solutions, the desire to keep going in this losing battle dwindles to nothing but powerless pessimism. Here are some positive actions (with not a boycott in sight) you can take to fight back against the issues arising from each of the major industry scandals of the past few months.

Myanmar garment factory workers fired after forming union
The right to collective action is routinely ignored by fast fashion, with recent scandals including union busting at H&M and unlawful dismissals at Zara and Primark. To support the fight for this intrinsic labour right, support IndustriALL union and donate to the Clean Clothes Campaign.

Los Angeles Apparel factory shut after over 300 Coronavirus cases
LA’s garment industry has come under fire for its unsafe working conditions during the pandemic, with 300 cases and 4 deaths at Dov Charney’s sweatshops. In the UK, we’ve also seen ASOS warehouse workers fearing their ‘cradle of disease’ and Boohoo breaking lockdown laws to shoot new products. It’s time to take to social media to hold fast fashion brands accountable for the health of the people who make their clothes.

Everlane and Reformation accused of workplace racial discrimination
Fashion in complicit in institutional racism, with even the most ‘ethical’ cult labels failing to extend their woke brand personality towards their own staff. Take some time to learn from the Fashion and Race Database, and support the work of the new Black in Fashion Council. And don’t let brands co-opt #BlackLivesMatter.

Kylie, Kendall, and Cardi B’s unpaid bills leave garment workers starving
If you haven’t already, please sign Remake’s #PayUp petition. Topshop, Primark, Peacocks, Urban Outfitters, Fashion Nova, Forever 21, Kendall + Kylie and more still haven’t paid for their cancelled orders at the start of lockdown.

They only exploit us. They make huge profits and pay us peanuts
Boohoo’s Leicester sweatshop scandal was the tip of the iceberg for the UK’s moral superiority in ethical manufacturing. Write to your MP to get the Environmental Audit Committee’s Fixing Fashion report back on the agenda, and sign this BOOWHO? petition by Labour Behind The Label.

Virtually entire fashion industry complicit in Uighur forced labour
Here is more information on forced labour in the fashion industry including three key ways to help Uyghurs entangled in the supply chain, with a brand pledge, campaigns to support, and tools for demanding greater transparency.


The top fashion headlines to catch up on from July

Podcast lineup

New episodes to fill your ears with conscious conversation

Something for the weekend

For my latest article for Eco Age, I met the semi-finalists of the European Social Innovation competition to discover incredible entrepreneurs and startups from around the EU who are using science and tech to transform the future of fashion. Read now: The Next Generation Innovations Making Fashion More Sustainable.

Sustainable fashion brand of the month

LAW Design Studio is a slow fashion brand by talented Glasgow designer Gillian McNeill, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with both as a marketing client and as a fellow Fashion Revolution Scotland volunteer. Gill makes the most gorgeous womenswear from linen and organic cotton, with a focus on minimalist style staples like these dungarees. She also has beautiful linen face masks, the perfect reminder to PLEASE wear a face covering in public whenever you can, seriously.

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See you next month,
Ruth x