How to be a
Rebel with a Cause
Calling all Rebels!
Pro-fashion protesters! This message is for you!
We are Rebels
We want to change the status quo for a cleaner, safer, fairer, more transparent and more accountable fashion and textiles industry. We believe that positive change can happen if we all think differently about fashion and demand better.
We believe fashion can be a force for good. We see a future industry that balances values where people, the environment, creativity and profit are all equal in measure.
We are designers, academics, writers, business leaders, policymakers, brands, retailers, marketers, producers, makers, workers and fashion lovers. we are the industry and we are the public. we are world citizens.
We are you.
We need Better
Fashion is one of the largest global industries. A single product may span multiple continents before reaching the shop floor. We need to rethink how the industry works.
We need to reinvent the model.
Fashion has a huge, and often negative, social and environmental impact. The production of clothing and the way we take care of our clothes after we buy them uses up a lot of land, water, energy, chemicals, and produces too much waste.
If we want to see fashion become a force for good, we’re going to have to change the way we think about what we wear and why we wear it. We need to love our clothes more. we need to look at them as precious heirlooms and as trusted friends.
It is estimated that we make
400 billion m2 of textiles annually. 60 billion m2 is cutting room
It takes 2,720 litres of water to make a t-shirt.
That’s how much we normally drink over a 3 year period.
In Guangdong in China young women face 150 hours of overtime each month.
60% have no contract,
90% no access to social insurance.
A survey of 91 fashion brands found that only 12%
could demonstrate any action at all towards
paying wages to garment workers above the legal minimum.
Inside : A Textile Worker’s Life
Despite there being international standards and national laws that should protect people, human rights abuses are prevalent throughout the fashion industry. The Global Slavery Index estimates that 36 million people are living in some form of modern slavery today; lots of these people are making clothes for western brands.
Forced labour, child labour, sexual harassment, discrimination and dangerous working conditions. These are some of the things that the people who make our clothes have to go through.
The legal minimum wage in most garment-producing countries is rarely enough for workers to live on. In Bangladesh, it’s estimated that the minimum wage only covers 60% of the cost of living in a slum. Low wages keep garment workers in a cycle of poverty and add to the pressure to work long overtime hours, which impacts on their health and safety, as well as the quality of clothes.
Mass-produced clothing and accessories have eroded the artisanal, heritage craft skills passed down through generations in communities around the world. Millions of people in the developing world – mainly women – depend on the handicraft trade. But right now, that trade faces an uncertain future.
Fashion and the Environment
Right now, manufacturing clothes uses up massive amounts of water, energy and land. we need to find new ways to make the clothes we love, without it costing the earth.
Growing the fibres for our clothes, processing, dyeing and treating garments requires a cocktail of chemicals, some known to be toxic. Cotton farming uses 22.5% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of all pesticides.
Dyes for textile products may contain hazardous chemicals. Dyes and chemicals in fabric and other components of clothing and shoe can seep into the soil, contaminating groundwater. In fact, industrial effluents and chemical fertilisers pollute over half of China’s rivers. Rivers in China have even turned red from dyes.
Our clothes account for around 3% of global production of CO emissions. And that’s not just because of how clothes are made. It’s also down to the way we take care for themat home. Around half of these emissions occur while your clothing is being worn, washed, tumble- dried, ironed and disposed of, and mostly by North American, European and Japanese consumers.
Last year, the world bought 73 million tons of textiles, yet only 20% are recycled each year. Around 350,000 tons of used clothes go to landfill in the UK every year.
In landfill, the decomposing clothing releases methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. And even before clothes reach stores, damaged products and rolls of branded or recognisable fabrics are slashed, landfilled and incinerated.
Meanwhile, every ton of discarded textiles reused saves 20 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
A New Narrative
Fashion is our chosen skin. The clothes we wear represent how we feel about ourselves. they’re our message to the world about who we are. Our clothes say a lot about us, but we don’t know all that much about our clothes.
It takes a lot to make a garment. Not just the bits we hear about – the designers, the brands, the shops, the catwalk shows and the parties – but also the cotton farmers, the ginners, spinners, weavers, dyers, sewers and other factory workers who make the clothes we love.
But the people who make our clothes are hidden. We don’t know who makes our clothes. And they don’t know who buys the clothes they make. We need to reconnect these broken links because when we buy a product, we also buy a whole chain of value and relationships.
By thinking about the people and stories behind our clothes, we can tell a different story about fashion.
How do you rebel
You re-shape the fashion industry – the lives of its producers, its workers – every time you buy or dispose of clothing!
You re-shape the fashion industry every time you find stories about your clothes, talk about them with others, share them online, and discuss what’s right and wrong about them. What you think, say and do changes fashion.
You hold the power to influence the kind of world you want live in and that you want for others. Your words and where you put your money matters. It sends a signal about what you believe in.
What’s on Your Back
Being a Rebel with a Cause calls on all of us to be curious about our clothes. You can start by simply turning an item of clothing inside out to look at the stitching. Notice its’ wavy seams, and where the loose ends of the threads have been cut off. These are all traces of the work done by the people who made your clothes.
Look at the Label
Your label will tell you in which country your clothing was made – so you’ll know that the people who stitched it together live in Bangladesh, Cambodia or Romania, for example. The label will also tell you what materials have been used, such as cotton or polyester.
But your label won’t tell you where in the world the cotton was farmed, where the fibre was spun into a yarn, where the yarn was woven into a fabric, where it was dyed and printed. It won’t tell you where the thread, dyes, zips, buttons, beading or other features came from.
Where did the materials come from? Where were they made? What’s it like to work there? What kind of people are involved? What are their lives like? Being interested in the answers to these kinds of questions is the best first step towards changing the story for the people who make our clothes.
Become a Detective
What are you wearing as you read this now? Have you got 30 minutes to investigate it online? What could you uncover? Reconstruct the story of your clothes by investigating blogs, online encyclopedias, corporate, NGO and news websites.
Knowledge is Power
There are loads of organisations that focus on specific issues like fair wages, toxic chemicals and child labour. There’s a list at the end of this blog. Find out what they’re doing on these issues. Visit their websites, read their reports, attend their events. You’ll be an expert before you know it.
And before you buy something, inform yourself about it. You might find very little or you might discover a lot. Are you comfortable with how much or little you know?
If you feel unsure, think about the alternatives. Could you buy the same thing second hand? Is there an ethically, sustainably made alternative? Do you really need it? If we think a little more before we buy, we can change the world one outfit at a time.
Apps such as Good Guide, Ethical Barcode and Buycott, allow you to scan the barcode of a garment whilst you’re out shopping. These apps can tell you the social or environmental impact of the products you buy. You can even find out whether the workers were paid a Living Wage through the app.
Becoming a Rebel with a Cause can be as simple as tweaking the way your shop, use and dispose of your clothing.
Ask yourself what items you really need. Journalist Lucy Siegle only buys something if she knows she’ll wear it at least 30 times.
The Investment Buy is the opposite of the cheap haul. It’s all about saving money to buy that one special piece, a ‘good friend’ as Joan Crawford said. Buy one good one instead of three cheap ones. It’s all about buying with care and loving it for longer.
How many times do we
buy just because we can, because it’s so cheap? But if something seems impossibly cheap, a bargain too good
to be true, it probably is. Question ‘why?’
Champion New Designers
One great way to invest is to discover a new designer and become a loyal customer. Doing so means you’ll be involved in all aspects of a fashion start-up, from invitations to special sample sales and pop up shops, to huge discounts on bespoke pieces. There are thousands of young emerging designers all over the world working sustainably who are waiting to be discovered. “Nudge nudge.”
Look for unique artisanal crafts when you’re shopping and you could be supporting the livelihoods of an entire community somewhere in the world, empowering the women who made it.
Rent, switch, swap. Buy second Hand and vintage Pieces.
Go Charity Shopping
At the speed at which we consume right now, last season’s collections are in the charity shops in a matter of months. That means you can recreate your favourite looks, personalise them, and do your bit to stop perfectly good garments going to landfill.
Hiring is new to the scene, but a great alternative if you can’t afford the latest designer wares. You can hire celebrities’ gowns, post Hollywood party pieces, ex fashion photoshoot samples and a whole lot more. Why buy expensive stuff you might only wear once when you can hire it?
Swap till you Drop
If you’re sick of your wardrobe and in need of a fashion fix, then you could swap clothes with your friends. Go to a big swishing event, host your own swishing party or even swap your clothes online.
Stylists use it, celebrities swear by it, and it’s a sustainable way to buy. Vintage gives you personal style and means you’ll be reusing, repurposing and extending the life of beautiful clothes.
Use music, art, poetry or performance to inspire
others to become Fashion Rebels too.
A Fash Mob assembles a group of people to make a public statement through performance. You could organise a “Fash-mob”to get people thinking about who makes their clothes.
Write to your Policy Makers
Governments have a part to play in helping fashion become a force for good. Politicians
and policymakers can make a difference through laws and government policies and practices. And as citizens, it’s our job to tell politicians what kind of world we want to live in.
At Naz&Court, we’ve already been meeting with politicians at the United Nations to discuss how important it is that that the fashion industry is made safer, fairer and cleaner.
But your voice would amplify this message. Write, call, tweet your local politicians and tell them what you want to know about your clothing. Lead a rally or a public demonstration. Tell them that you want more protection for both the people and the environment that the fashion industry depend on.
Mend, Make and Customize
You can easily find places, physical and online, that will teach you amazing ways to customise, mend, transform and revitalise your clothes.
Donate your Clothes Responsibly
It’s great that you give your clothes to charity shops when you don’t want them anymore. But our unwanted second hand clothing is becoming a problem for some countries in the developing world. According to Oxfam, More than 70% of the clothes donated globally end up in Africa, which has destroyed the economy for local tailors.
If you’ve fallen out of love with a piece of clothing, don’t throw it out, change
it up. You can tailor clothes to a different shape, add new embellishments, dye
it a different colour. You could turn it into something completely new, like a scarf or an accessory.
Fix Up Look Sharp
If something’s broken, fix it yourself or take it to a local tailor. A rip, a missing button or a stain should never stand in the way of you and a good outfit
Be a Craftivist
Use craft as a tool for gentle protest. Join the Craftivist Collective and change the world, one stitch at a time.
Have a Go
Why not think about making your own clothes? You’ll have to learn how to sew a little bit, but once you start, you’ll feel empowered to continue doing it. And then think about the possibilities!
Not that you shouldn’t give your clothes to charity shops, you should! But consider more carefully where you choose
to donate. For example, you might donate your clothes to help people get to back to work with organizations like Dress for Success or Career Wardrobe. Or you might look out for local clothing drives to help the homeless, refugees or people in crisis.
Go Guerilla Style
This is for those who are a bit subversive. Make your own art about Fashion Revolution and paste it up around your city. Stage a cheeky public stunt. Organise a critical mass cycle ride. Host an alternative fashion show. Gentle forms of protest can make the strongest statements.
Make a Statement
Make a simple promise or set yourself a challenge. This should get you thinking more deeply about what you wear, why and how. It might even boost your style creativity.
“THIS YEAR I’M ONLY GOING TO BUY WHAT I ABSOLUTELY NEED”
“THIS YEAR I’M ONLY GOING TO BUY SECOND-HAND OR BUY SUSTAINABLY MADE CLOTHES”
“THIS YEAR I’M NOT GOING TO BUY A SINGLE THING.”
Join Other Campaigns
Labour Behind the Label Laboutbehindthelabel.org
Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN) Pan-uk.org
Stop the Traffic Stopthetraffik.org
Textile Exchange Textileexchange.org
War on Want waronwant.org/LFHS
Anti-Slavery International antislavery.org
Clean Clothes Campaign cleanclothes.org
Environmental Justice Foundation ejfoundation.org
Ethical Fashion Forum ethicalfashionforum.com
Fairtrade International fairtrade.org.uk fairtrade.net
Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) global-standard.org
Greenpeace Detox greenpeace.org/detox/
Baptist World Aid Australia
behind the barcode
Tailored Wages Report
Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations time for transparency www.somo.nl/publications-en/ Publication_3941
Clean Clothes Campaign
International Labor Rights Forum
Feel good Fashion
New York Times
Fast and Flawed inspections
of Factories abroad
www.nytimes.com/2013/ 09/02/business/global/superficial- visits-and-trickery-undermine- foreign-factory-inspections.html
Follow The Things
The Sustainable Fashion Handbook  www.thamesandhudson.com/ The_Sustainable_Fashion_ Handbook/9780500290569
Green is the New Black: How to Change the world with style  www.ecolibris.net/greenisthenewblack.asp
Overdressed: The Shockingly High
Cost of Cheap Fashion  www.overdressedthebook.com/author.html
Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution  www.newint.org/books/ethical-living/ naked-fashion/
To Die For: is Fashion wearing out the world?  www.harpercollins.co.uk/ titles/9780007264094/to-die-for- lucy-siegle
Where am I Wearing? a global tour
to the Countries, Factories and People that Make our Clothes  www.eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/ productCd-1118277554.html
Centre for Sustainable Fashion
Forum For The Future
MISTRA Future Fashion
Pratt Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator www.bkaccelerator.com/
Sustainable Clothing Action Plan: Clothing Knowledge Hub www.wrap.org.uk/node/19930
Textiles Environment Design
Textile Futures Research Centre
Written by Courtney Barriger
Research and Draft by
Laura Hunter Futerra