India Factory Fire 8/2/20

On 9/02/2020, a fire at the Nandan Denim factory in India killed 7 workers (death toll may rise), as workers in the department where the fire struck struggled with ventilation and escaping through the only entry/exit available.

Several companies are named in Nandan Denim’s annual report as brands that supply from the factory. These brands should have been aware of the poor conditions their workers were in, and the fire hazards that resulted in the deaths of those 7 workers.

Below are ways you can get in contact with the brands involved. I’ve tried to make this as easy as possible so literally just control c and control v the stuff and lets seek accountability.

News article:

Fire Kills Seven in Indian Factory that Made Denim for Major US Brands

https://www.thedailystar.net/business/news/denim-factory-fire-leaves-7-dead-india-1866496

Twitter:

A fire in a factory supplying denim for major brands has killed 7 workers, as they struggled to escape. According to an Nandan Denim report, brands affiliated with the factory incl. @zara @Target @RalphLauren @Primark @VFCorp – how was this allowed to happen under you watch?

@zara 7 workers have died following a factory at a fire supplying denim to Zara in India, how was this allowed to happen under your watch and what will you do to support the victims and families of the deceased? 

@Target  7 workers have died following a factory at a fire supplying denim to Target in India, how was this allowed to happen under your watch and what will you do to support the victims and families of the deceased? 

@VFCorp 7 workers have died following a factory at a fire supplying denim to VF Corp in India, how was this allowed to happen under your watch and what will you do to support the victims and families of the deceased? 

@RalphLauren  7 workers have died following a factory at a fire supplying denim to Ralph Lauren in India, how was this allowed to happen under your watch and what will you do to support the victims and families of the deceased?

@Primark 7 workers have died following a factory at a fire supplying denim to Primark in India, how was this allowed to happen under your watch and what will you do to support the victims and families of the deceased? 

Instagram caption template

On 8 February 2020, garment workers at a denim factory were killed in a factory fire in India. The death toll so far is 7. There was little ventilation and workers were unable to escape quickly through the single exit. Brands listed as clients of Nandan Denim include @zara @target @vfcorp @ralphlauren @primark. Time and time again brands have proven their workers’ lives are last on their list of priorities, despite their million dollar profits.

 

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT ETHICAL FASHION PLS

Ethical fashion: ‘an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximises benefits to people and communities while minimising impact on the environment.’
Ethical Fashion Forum

image

(Source: https://airrclothingblog.com/2015/03/06/brand-profile-beaumont-organic-available-at-airr-clothing/)

Wow. Where do I begin?

Actually let me begin with this disclaimer: ANY CRITICISM I MAY MAKE ABOUT CERTAIN SITUATIONS/ORGANISATIONS/GROUPS OF PEOPLE IS NOT AN ATTACK ON THESE PEOPLE AS INDIVIDUALS BUT THE SYSTEM FROM WHICH THEY HAVE DERIVED FROM.

Continue reading “LET’S TALK ABOUT ETHICAL FASHION PLS”

Fashion Factfiles #1: Cotton Farmer Suicides in India

The epidemic of cotton farmer suicides is not a recent thing. Between 1995 and 2013, there is believed to have been 60,750 suicides, meaning an average of 10 farmers taking their own lives every day. Between January and April just this year, Maharashtra, India, reported 852 farmer suicides; an average of seven farmer suicides, reported every single day.

There are several reasons why so many cotton farmers are pushed to the point of ending their lives. However, the majority of these causes, including climate change and lack of micronutrients in the soil, have been exacerbated or caused by a far greater problem farmers are faced with: MONSANTO.

Continue reading “Fashion Factfiles #1: Cotton Farmer Suicides in India”

The Shy Activists- FASHION REVOLUTION

We are nearly at the end of Fashion Revolution Week but Fashion Revolution runs all year long.

image

Photography by Rahul Talukder

At the beginning of Fashion Revolution Week Mayisha shared her thoughts and what many of us who see through consumerism feel- “We are all unwillingly complicit in this cycle of exploitation, through a system called ‘fast fashion.” We wear the clothes, we buy the clothes, we ask for them.

Since Rana Plaza collapsed “1,137 have been confirmed dead, with over 200 remaining missing. Tales of workers trapped in the rubble with no choice but to saw their own limbs off to escape, of workers trapped within the collapse for days without food or water, surrounded by dead bodies. Of the families who had to identify their deceased family members, only to find that the bodies had been so deformed by the collapse they were almost  unrecognisable. The suffering of the injured workers who are no longer physically capable of working, plummeting them into further poverty. The orphans who lost either one or both parents. The workers who survived, but must face on going psychological torment, as they return to work in the garment factories.”

Mayisha covers how although there is an improvement, things still haven’t massively improved, and that we can try to make a difference by pressuring our favourite brands to make a change. 

Here’s a link to her blog which is a must read.

WHO MADE MY CLOTHES

Who made my clothes is a campaign to look past the clothes, past the label to the person behind the finished product. Supporters of the campaign taken photos of their item of clothing with the label showing to ask the brand on a social platform- who made their clothes.

image

Change is at your fingertips

Although there are many ways to lead a more ethical life in terms of fashion such as:

  • swapshops
  • upcycling
  • recycling
  • ethical shopping

We mustn’t forget the plight of garment workers and the issues they face everyday. Mayisha covers a lot of the terrible conditions that garment workers suffer for example, Bangladeshi garment workers earn the lowest minimum wage in the world and it is nowhere near the living wage. 

We have to show that we are in solidarity with garment workers and we have to hold companies accountable. We also have to hold ourselves accountable. Where there is demand there is supply. Let’s demand transparent and fair supply.

Islam teaches us that “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.”

Many of us have the power to use our voice and therefore have the responsibility to do so.

One of the easiest ways that you can put pressure on brands is by tweeting them. Fashion Revolution have helpfully made a template for twitter- 

I’m , and I want to thank the people who made my . Hi @[brand], #whomademyclothes? via @Fash_Rev.

Islam teaches that the condition of the people won’t change until the people change. I think this is a really valuable and important message. We shouldn’t expect things to change on their own. 

We should shoulder the responsibility of making the change happen. 

As Mayisha stated in her post, that although she is unsure about how to change the industry she is sure that we need to make our voice heard.

Sources and further reading

http://fashionrevolution.org/get-involved/ways-for-everyone-to-get-involved/

http://www.vogue.co.uk/gallery/rana-plaza-fourth-anniversary-fashion-revolution-week

http://www.thestar.co.uk/business/sheffield-store-gets-behind-ethical-fashion-revolution-1-8517624

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/style/9-ways-master-eco-conscious-sustainable-dressing-stay-stylish/

https://standup4islam.wordpress.com/2012/12/25/when-you-see-a-wrong-change-it-with-your-hand/

http://ohsoethical.tumblr.com/post/159933245193/fourth-anniversary-of-the-rana-plaza-collapse-my

Fourth Anniversary of the Rana Plaza Collapse- my thoughts.

image

Photography by Rahul Talukder

Today marks the fourth anniversary of an incident that left the world horrified, as we witnessed the deplorable consequences of corporate greed and capitalism.

On 24th April 2013, 8am, 3639 workers refused to enter the eight-storey Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh, due to visible cracks in the wall that evidently posed a threat to the workers’ lives. In response, the owner Sohel Rana, brought paid gang members to beat the workers, forcing them to work, with threats that they would not be paid that month. They reluctantly went in.

At 8:45am, the 8 storey building collapsed.

1,137 have been confirmed dead, with over 200 remaining missing. Tales of workers trapped in the rubble with no choice but to saw their own limbs off to escape, of workers trapped within the collapse for days without food or water, surrounded by dead bodies. Of the families who had to identify their deceased family members, only to find that the bodies had been so deformed by the collapse they were almost  unrecognisable. The suffering of the injured workers who are no longer physically capable of working, plummeting them into further poverty. The orphans who lost either one or both parents. The workers who survived, but must face on going psychological torment, as they return to work in the garment factories.

image

Photography by Rahul Talukder

What makes things worse is the amount of pressure required to force retailers whose clothes had been found in the factory to compensate the victims and the families of the victims. Indeed, while some did pay up, others, notably Benetton, required intense pressure from campaigners before they gave in. Why they felt they were in no position to support these families is beyond me.

For the past four years since the accident, activists around the world have marked this day as Fashion Revolution Day, and the week it takes place in as Fashion Revolution Week. During this time, people all around the world ask big businesses who made their clothes, highlighting consumer concern for the workers behind their clothes and the need to hold corporations accountable for their workers’ wellbeing.

Demand for the fashion industry to check themselves has increased, and it is refreshing to see fast fashion corporations becoming more transparent, as well as some improvements being shown.

What I cannot deal with however, is the recurring news stories on factory fires from Vietnam to India, garment workers fainting en masse in Cambodia due to lack of nutrition, exhaustion and sweltering heat, young Dalit girls in Tamil Nadu being sexually exploited and abused through the Sumangali System (an agreement that women work in return for dowry required for marriage), women having abortions or working up til pregnancy to avoid being fired, impoverished communities being struck with high levels of cancer and disease due to corporations polluting their land with toxic materials or compelling workers to use hazardous materials, the cotton farmers committing suicide because they cannot keep up with the impossible debt they are put in.

The worst part? We are all unwillingly complicit in this cycle of exploitation, through a system called ‘fast fashion.’

Fast fashion simply refers to when retailers pick up trends from the catwalk, and push them out at large quantities to consumers as cheaply as possible. However, with trends now rapidly changing faster than ever, due to factors such as instant coverage of increasingly frequent fashion shows and online accessibility to new styles, retailers must keep up in order to meet consumer desires. For example, in Zara, designs will stay on sale for a maximum of four weeks. If Zara launch a particular product that doesn’t sell within a week, it is withdrawn, orders are cancelled and new designs are formulated, further highlighting their dedication to consumer demands.

As fast fashion retailers continue to push out new collections in large quantities and short spaces of time, this creates impossible targets for garment workers to reach in terms of clothes required to be made. This is why retailers aim to set up factories in developing countries, where the impoverished are in desperate need of work, where wages can be kept low, and where laws supporting the rights of garment workers are weak. This allows corporations to exploit workers more easily, with workers being faced with long hours, limited breaks, poor working conditions, poor pay, as well as physical, verbal, and sexual abuse.

Smh.

As someone who has always loved designing clothes, combining materials, mixing my cultures via fabric, using my wardrobe to express political views- I feel evermore compelled to fight this battle. I love clothes, but fashion is absolute bull. As my fave Tansy Hoskins explained in an article, fashion today is a facade of ‘choice and empowerment’, a beacon of creativity, but intentionally refuses to acknowledge that it is held up by and dependent on the exploitation of the impoverished.

This is evident in the glorifying of fashion on social media. Particularly, it is the rise of the fashion blogger that has made me increasingly alarmed with this lack of accountability the fashion industry gets away with. Every time I see an Insta post with a caption saying something like ‘OMG I’M ADDICTED TO SHOES’ ‘SOMEONE TELL ME HOW TO STOP BUYING CLOTHES’ ‘I CAN’T STOP BUYING CLOTHES’ ‘RETAIL THERAPY’, and all these clothing hauls, it makes me sad that corporations have really worked their magic on us. Through persuading us that the only way we can be deemed as successful, the only way we can be happy, is by purchasing clothes that only provide a short term happiness which eventually fades until we get our next fix of ‘retail therapy’, they are truly feeding on our insecurities and the susceptibility of our subconscious to external messages. I can honestly say, most of this realisation has come from analysing myself and my responses to the world, and trust me it is a constant struggle battling between the messages we receive from society and my own consciousness.

At the end of the day, as much as society compels us to think fashion, style etc is the epitome of social success and happiness, we need to remind ourselves that this mindset is intentional, is a tactical form of marketing, and most importantly, A LIE.

The fact is, no one should have to suffer for me to be able to express myself, to be unique, to be creative, to be able to have a cute insta aesthetic and get bare likes for an ootd. As obvious as it sounds, this is the world we are in.

While I am still unsure as to how exactly we transform the fashion industry (I think about this everyday ngl lol), there is something I am sure of: You need to make your voice heard. Retailers depend on consumers to thrive, so increasing the pressure on these corporations to ensure the wellbeing of their workers is essential. Even simply @ing or emailing retailers like h&m, inquiring about workers rights has a powerful impact, especially if done collectively. In addition,  I strongly believe in the impact our own actions can have on changing the world and changing our own behaviours. By reducing the amount of unnecessary clothes we buy, mending or recycling the clothes we have, opting for secondhand garmz or even Fairtrade stuff if u got p, we can encompass a sense of consciousness for humanity with every action we take, allowing our lives to symbolise the world we want to see, and help to actually be the change we want to see.  There are also many organisations out here working actively to support garment workers around the world, such as Clean Clothes Campaign and Labour Behind the Label- check them out. I hope, both individually and collectively, we will all take a stand against this consumerist, materialistic society fuelled by capitalism. 

Anyway I’m out. I truly hope we can create a world where the greed and ego of the people at the top is overridden by the masses and our desire to care for and protect our brothers and sisters around the world. 

Mayisha

p.s. check out some of the events happening for Fashion Revolution Week this week here

image

Photography by Rahul Talukder

Soomaiya Saturday- Every Penny Counts

Note- This is not a money saving guide

image

We all like to give to charity regularly. We might have a monthly direct debit set up or give to the homeless. In Islam we give 2.5% of our wealth as it is a pillar of our faith. 

We do this because we want to help people who are less fortunate. We want to make a difference to someone’s life. We want to improve someone’s situation. In Islam we believe that you can’t lose anything from giving.

But what if every penny you spent had a positive impact on someone’s life. What if you offered Trade and not Aid. (I’m not suggesting we stop giving to charity).

At Oh So Ethical we believe that one of the biggest powers individuals have is their consumer power. We have to spend to survive- housing, food, clothes, other essentials.

What if every time you needed something you looked into the best option. Not just the best option for you as the customer but the best option for it’s impact on everything behind the item. Think about the environment, the person who made the goods, what the company believes in. Become a conscious shopper and not a zombie-like consumer.

When I started to think about spending ethically I started with the basics that I would always buy. Items such as soap, shower gels, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste (find them in the OSE directory). It feels good to know I am regularly contributing to businesses that are having a good impact on the world.

image

I always think of it this way- if your friend and your enemy were selling the same thing, who would you buy it from?

In Islam we believe in attaching blessings to everything we do- “And spend of your substance in the cause of Allah, and make not your own hands contribute to destruction; but do good; for Allah loveth those who do good.” (2:195) It’s our mission to have a positive impact with every choice we make. Let’s use our choices to make people happy!