Who made my clothes? Fashion Revolution

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Today is Fashion Revolution Day. When I first heard about the Fashion Revolution, I thought: Wow! That sounds cool. But what is it? And why do we need it?

Fashion Revolution is a non-profit organization that started after 1133 people died in Rana Plaza catastrophe in a garment factory working for popular clothing brands in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 24th 2013. They choose April 24th of every year as Fashion Revolution Day to be a metaphorical call to arms and to keep the most vulnerable in the supply chain in the public eye. Which is an awesome idea and absolutely necessary! Their mission is: We believe in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure. Oh, I’m in!

There are so many things wrong with the fashion industry. It’s not only insufficient emergency exits in factories, there are sweat shops, there’s slavery on the farms that produce cotton, there is toxic waste of fabric mills that pollutes the rivers and those are just a few examples. You might feel like it has nothing to do with you but it does. Just look at the example of polluted rivers in China. Yes, China is far away. The water isn’t. If you paid attention just a little bit in primary school, you will remember the water cycle and the river water in China might come down as rain someday, anywhere. Isn’t that scary?

I personally can’t sleep well if I think about people dying and living in slavery or being paid so little while working in hazardous environments, just so I can buy a shirt for 5$. I listened to a talk by Nicole Bridger, a Vancouver based designer of sustainable clothing last week. I agreed with almost everything she said and was so excited to see that there are people put there not only thinking along the same lines as me but doing something about it. One thing she said was that she wants people to buy fewer clothes and have them last for longer. Which is a terrible thing to say for someone who owns a business that sells clothes, at least from a a business perspective. But I thought: YES! ME TOO! That’s what I’ve been doing my whole life! My mom always taught me to value good quality over cheap stuff. Sustainable, high quality fashion not only makes a whole lot of sense but it’s also what I call style.

The event was organized by REAP Calgary (Respect for the Earth and all people), a wonderful non-profit association for locally owned businesses that care about the community and the environment. It is such a good feeling to see more and more businesses and customers who care about the environment & the people.

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Now you might wonder – but how does Maple And Oak Designs represent sustainable style? First of all, I do all my sewing myself here in Calgary in Canada. I’ve been thinking about hiring somebody to help me with the sewing at some point and I know, if I do that, I will pay them a fair wage.

Another and bigger issue with clothes manufacturing is the question where your fabrics came from? Textile waste is a huge problem, and landfill sites are full of discarded fabrics like old clothes and home decor but also vintage fabrics. Maple And Oak Designs is committed to help reduce the strain on the planet’s resources by saving old fabrics from becoming landfill and up-cycling them into new fun accessories. Our accessories are made from 80 to 90% recycled or vintage fabrics that I source personally at estate sales, fabric sales and from thrift shops. Yes, sometimes I can’t resist the temptation of a bright, shiny new fabric but when I give in to that temptation, I make a point of choosing organic fabrics or fabric remnants. I know that this is still a point I need to work, on to be able to vouch 100% where and how the fabrics have been made.

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So what can you do today to show your support for #Whomademyclothes & #fashrev?

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This is me wearing my O’Neill t-shirt that my brother gave me for Christmas. I love it, it’s a gorgeous colour and it says ‘Let’s get lost’ on the front. O’Neill has a section on their homepage about the supply chain and what they’re doing to end slavery and human trafficking in their supply chain. You can read it here. But I don’t think that is enough. I ask them for more transparency. I would like to know that everybody working for them or their suppliers is paid a fair wage and that the environment is being protected. Thank you.

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To learn more about sustainable style and be inspired, listen to Nicole Bridger’s talk here” title=”SUstainable Style” target=”_blank”>here. Thank you all for reading this post, this is a topic close to my heart and if I just make one person change their attitude towards sustainable fashion today, I’m happy!

With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,

❤ Leonie❤

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