Posts Tagged ‘fashion’

Killer jeans are still being made!

April 4, 2012
killer jeans

killer jeans

Killer jeans quite literally kill! Workers die from sandblasting jeans to give them that faded, worn look.

You can of course get the same look by buying faded second hand jeans, but that does not line the pockets of the greedy fashion industry.

Therein lies the difference between fast fashion and slow fashion. One is driven by greed, the other concerned with sustainability, where clothes come from, how they are made and the impact on people and planet.

In Bangladesh many sweatshops exporting jeans for brands including Levis, Lee, Diesel and Zara continue to sandblast and put workers’ lives at risk.

One factory owner stated that it was impossible to produce some of the designs requested without the use of sandblasting. Indeed workers told researchers from Labour Behind the Label that they are told to switch to using sandblasting, even if a buyer has said it is not be used, if they are too close to production deadlines. Others stated that production was often carried out at night to avoid detection by inspectors and auditors.

Workers interviewed suffered from constant coughing and breathing difficulties. They were using old machinery, and were forced to work up to twelve hours a day in dusty, poorly ventilated rooms, without adequate health and safety protection. Most interviewed had colleagues who had fallen ill.

There is a lack of medical care provided to workers and they face difficulties in getting adequate diagnosis and treatment, in part because of the low awareness of the issue among medical professionals.

This is not acceptable. More has to be done to ensure that brands take action to end all forms of sandblasting.

Killer jeans are still being made
Deadly Denim – Sandblasting in the Bangladesh Garment Industry

Slow fashion

March 31, 2012
slow fashion pledge

slow fashion pledge

Slow fashion is not a seasonal trend that comes and goes like animal print, but a sustainable fashion movement that is gaining momentum. — Jessica Bourland

Fast fashion is greed.

Fast fashion is exploitation.

Fast fashion is sweatshop factories, one factory pitted against another factory, one country pitted against another country.

Fast fashion externalises costs, destroys the environment.

Fast fashion is global corporations brainwashing sheep-like individuals that they must all look the same, dress the same, think the same.

Fast fashion is disposable clothes, wardrobes that must be emptied and replenished every four months.

Fast fashion, cheap clothes, clothes that are too cheap to repair, too cheap even to launder, come with a very high price tag.

Slow fashion is style.

Slow fashion is clothes we look good in.

Slow fashion is small artisan designers and dressmakers, who use natural materials.

Slow fashion is organic.

Slow fashion is Fair Trade

Slow fashion is taking unwanted clothes to charity shops to be recycled, buying clothes from charity shops.

Slow fashion is worth caring about, worth repairing, worth laundering.

Slow fashion treads lightly on the planet.

Slow fashion is sustainable.

‘Slow fashion’ was coined by Kate Fletcher. It has evolved from slow food, is part of the slow movement.

In The Winner Stands Alone, Paulo Coelho has a brilliant critique of fast fashion.

It is all about image, be it wearing the latest fashion or consuming a can of coke. We think we are in control of our own destiny, but we are not, we are being manipulated by con men.

Fashion. Whatever can people be thinking? Do they think fashion is something that changes according to the season of the year? Did they really come from all corners of the world to show off their dresses, their jewellery and their collection of shoes? They don’t understand. ‘Fashion’ is merely a way of saying: ‘I belong to your world. I’m wearing the same uniform as your army, so don’t shoot.’

Ever since groups of men and women first started living together in caves, fashion has been the only language everyone can understand, even complete strangers. ‘We dress in the same way. I belong to your tribe. Let’s gang up on the weaklings as a way of surviving.’

But some people believe that ‘fashion’ is everything. Every six months, they spend a fortune changing some tiny detail in order to keep up their membership of the very exclusive tribe of the rich. If they were to visit Silicon Valley, where the billionaires of the IT industry wear plastic watches and beat-up jeans, they would understand that the world has changed; everyone now seems to belong to the same social class; no one cares any more about the size of a diamond or the make of a tie or a leather briefcase. In fact, ties and leather briefcases don’t even exist in that part of the world; nearby, however, is Hollywood, a relatively more powerful machine – albeit in decline – which still manages to convince the innocent to believe in haute-couture dresses, emerald necklaces and stretch limos. And since this is what still appears in all the magazines, who would dare destroy a billion-dollar industry involving advertisements, the sale of useless objects, the invention of entirely unnecessary new trends, and the creation of identical face creams all bearing different labels?

How perverse! Just when everything seems to be in order and as families gather round the table to have supper, the phantom of the Superclass appears, selling impossible dreams: luxury, beauty, power. And the family falls apart.

The father works overtime to be able to buy his son the latest trainers because if his son doesn’t have a pair, he’ll be ostracised at school. The wife weeps in silence because her friends have designer clothes and she has no money. Their adolescent children, instead of learning the real values of faith and hope, dream only of becoming singers or movie stars. Girls in provincial towns lose any real sense of themselves and start to think of going to the big city, prepared to do anything, absolutely anything, to get a particular piece of jewellery. A world that should be directed towards justice begins instead to focus on material things, which, in six months’ time, will be worthless and have to be replaced, and that is how the whole circus ensures that the despicable creatures gathered together in Cannes remain at the top of the heap.

What are people buying into, what are they paying a high price for? It is not the designer on the label as the design will have been by a young designer who wants out to set up his own label. It will have not even have been made by the company, it will have come from some Third World sweatshop, a dollar or less at the factory gate, one hundred dollars or more retail. All that people are paying for is the label, the brand name.

Not to be confused with buying real luxury, quality, for example a Montegrappa pen made by craftsmen, for when we buy something of quality, we tend to cherish it and keep it for life.

Top Story in Lemondade (Sunday 1 April 2010).

Montegrappa launch The Alchemist pen
Disposable clothes
Killer Jeans
What is Slow Fashion?
Slow fashion
‘Slow fashion’ is a must-have … and not just for this season
Slow it Down: Fast Fashion vs. Slow Fashion
Perfect Purses
The Story of Stuff

The Story of Cosmetics

October 9, 2010

The Story of Cosmetics examines the pervasive use of toxic chemicals in our everyday personal care products, from lipstick to baby shampoo.

Top Story in The Digital Mission Daily (Saturday 7 April 2012).

Also see

The Story of Stuff

Lush Cosmetics – Our Environmental Policy

Asia Floor Wage

November 24, 2009

The idea behind the Asia Floor Wage is to create a basic living wage across Asian countries. This is to counteract the race to the bottom by companies like Primark, who put pressure not only on individual factories but also on the countries where the factory is located. If the factory owners do not lower their factory gate prices, which translates to lower wages, longer working hours, then the buyers simply source elsewhere. Factory competes against factory, country against country, profits go up, wages and working conditions go down, or in other words the classic race to the bottom.

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance, a large coalition of unions and labour organisations spread across Asia, is supported in the West by trade unions and NGOs and anti-sweatshop movements such as Labour Behind the Label and War on Want.

The Asia floor wage, ie a living wage, should provide sufficient for food costs and non-food costs of a standard family of 2 adults and 2 children. The wage should be earned during each country’s legal maximum working week, though not above 48 hours.

Please support Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops


Asia Floor Wage

Stitching a decent Wage across boarders

Primark – the high cost of cheap fashion

Fruit of the Loom Campaign VICTORY!

No Logo

Primark – the high cost of cheap fashion

November 19, 2009
A trade free zone outside Primark in Cambridge

A trade fee zone outside Primark in Cambridge

Primark is at the opposite end of the fashion spectrum to Mango, Prada and Gucci. The clothes are cheap, dirt cheap. So cheap you can pick up a pair of jeans for less than a fiver. So cheap they are undercutting the charity shops selling secondhand clothes, though that in part is because the charity shops have gotten greedy and are ripping people off.

On my one and only visit to a Primark store it was easy to see why the clothes are cheap, they are of inferior quality. But then what do you expect when you pick up a pair of jeans for a fiver!

Cheap fashion comes at a high cost, a high human cost, a high cost to the environment.

Labour Behind the Label and sister organisations have highlighted the human misery behind the production of clothes for Primark, the long hours, the below a living wage wages, the sweatshop conditions, the use of child labour.

Primark clothes are so cheap they have become disposable items, wear once and throw away. A one way trip to landfill, as unless donated to a charity shop to be worn again, the mix of fabrics used and the method of manufacture make it impossible to recycle.

Politicians fiddle and diddle whilst the planet burns, like lemmings over a cliff we are heading into the abyss of an irreversible climate catastrophe. We have to make deep cuts in our carbon emissions, starting with 10% cut in 2010. We have to bring CO2 down to below 350ppm in the atmosphere if we are to have any hope of stabilising then reducing the global rise in temperature.

We tend to be so focused on transport costs, heating costs, that we overlook the embedded energy in the goods we make, the consumer junk we buy. A can of coke has roughly 2/3 of a kilowatt-hour of embedded energy in the can alone!

We buy our unwanted consumer goods, take them home where they become clutter, then throw them out. A one way trip to landfill.

Primark is encouraging wanton consumption. As a comedian joked recently on the News Quiz, visit the Primark buffet, all the clothes you can wear in a single sitting.

We have heard of Fair Trade, well how about a Trade Free Zone? A group of activist set up their stall outside a Primark store in Cambridge with Free Shop. Want cheap clothes, well come to our stall, we pile them up high and give them away free!

Please support the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign.

also see

Abercrombie and Fitch: A fashionista cult?

Paulo Coelho t-shirts from Mango

Gucci handbags

The Winner Stands Alone

Abercrombie and Fitch: A fashionista cult?

November 10, 2009

Monday lunchtime I was listening to a fascinating programme on Abercrombie and Fitch and its sister company Hollister. It was brand consciousness raised to a new level and how brain-dead teenagers are conned into parting with their money for a fabricated image, how easily they are manipulated. [see You and Yours, BBC Radio 4, 9 November 2009]

Appropriately enough, the programme started off with a couple of teenagers outside one of the stores. Asked why they were there, why they wished to enter the store and be parted from their money, the answer was: Duh, don’t know? Which could not have summed it up better. The interviewer was then asked to move on.

The interviewer then walked into a store, but was very quickly asked to leave by a store manager.

Abercrombie and Fitch is a very old, 19th century outdoors store established by its founders. Or was, it went bust in the 1970s. The name exists, and its myth is part of the sales pitch.

Hollister on the other hand is a mere decade old, a fabricated urban myth of the great outdoors, founded in 1912, a man called Hollister doing all sorts of daring do.

Those who work inside the store are the body beautiful. They are given a manual on how they must look, down to the hairstyle, length of fingernails, colour of nail polish. The body beautiful are the top of the hierarchy, those who work the night shift and not seen by the customers at the bottom.

Recruiters scour the streets looking for more body beautiful to populate the stores. The body beautiful are given free tickets to nightclubs to help spread the message.

A disabled shop worker who did not fit the body beautiful image was bullied and left. She received £9,000 compensation at an employment tribunal.

Many have described the the organisation as a cult, everyone has to think the group corporate mindset. A designer for the company described the CEO as a control freak.

One got the impression of a nightmare version of The Devil Wears Prada!

And where are the clothes made?

Listening to the programme it was a case of life imitating art, the manipulation of the young, the fashionistas described by Paulo Coelho in his novel The Winner Stands Alone.

Also see

No Logo by Naomi Klein

Darshan by Irene Black

The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho t-shirts from Mango

October 20, 2009
Priya sher – Paulo Coelho t-shirt from Mango

Priya sher – Paulo Coelho t-shirt from Mango

In the spring Mango launched an exclusive range of Paulo Coelho t-shirts. Such is the magic of the magician that within days the t-shirts were the No 1 best selling item in Mango shops worldwide and shortly thereafter they sold out.

In a strange ironic twist, life imitating art, the launch of the Paulo Coelho t-shirts coincided with worldwide publication of The Winner Stands Alone, a damning indictment of the world of fashion and film and the cult of celebrity!

This autumn Mango has launched a second collection of exclusive Paulo Coelho t-shirts. These are already selling out.

All monies raised from the sale of the Paulo Coelho t-shirts goes towards supporting the Paulo Coelho Institute in Rio.

Please support the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign.

This evening The Witch of Portobello has its world premier at the Rome International Film Festival.

The Devil Wears Prada

October 19, 2009

A couple of years ago I read The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. For the first few pages it is witty and amusing, but after the first 50 or so pages so incredibly boring. How can anyone write such trash, even worse read it? Did I really want to know what everyone was wearing? Her second book, virtually a re-write of the first only now the PR industry not the fashion industry, is marginally better.

When I read the book, I thought maybe a short story, but not a novel. I also thought it would make a good film.

A few weeks back I picked up the DVD of The Devil Wears Prada and finally got around to watching it last night. I quite enjoyed it. A rare example of the film being better than the book.

The film is absolutely brilliant. Surprisingly it captures the essence of the book far better than does the book itself. Very clever is the opening sequence where you see the people heading to work but what you see is what is on their feet, their shoes, their boots. The performance by Meryl Streep is worthy of an Oscar. That by Anne Hathaway as the girl from the sticks is also good.

Far, far better than The Devil Wears Prada is the latest novel from Paulo Coelho, The Winner Stands Alone, published this spring. A damning indictment of the fashion and film industry and the cult of celebrity and how easily women are exploited in the name of fashion.

The Winner Stands Alone in a way compliments the film, you get more out of the film, the inner world of fashion after having read The Winner Stands Alone, and the film in turn compliments The Winner Stands Alone. One is set in New York, the other in Cannes at the International Film Festival.

In the syrupy saccharine mini-feature that accompanies the film, the producer praises the director, the director the producer, everyone heaps praise on the screenwriter and trashes the previous screenwriters. Curiously Lauren Weisberger, who did after all write the novel, gets not a mention! Although the novel is rubbish, ironically Lauren Weisberger can write. She does though get a mention in the opening credits.

From what I remember of the book, the ending of the film is different to the book. I only got about halfway through the book and gave it to a Polish friend. She wished to see if the book was as bad in the original English as it was in the Polish translation. What was unforgivable I went out and bought another copy as I wished to see was it really this bad, did it not improve. Sadly no, it didn’t. Now, having watched the film and enjoyed it, I want to read the book again. How sad can you get?

I had originally bought The Devil Wears Prada for a Czech friend. I tried to find her books that were well written, not too difficult and interesting. Not easy to satisfy all three. She has absolutely no interest in fashion. Has a knack though to pick clothes she looks good in. No way, I thought, she will not like this book, a big mistake. Surprisingly she did.

Maybe I am missing something, like why do my Bulgarian friends post pictures of the shoes they are wearing?

The Witch of Portobello, based upon the novel of the same name by Paulo Coelho, has its world premier at the Rome International Film Festival evening Tuesday 20 October 2009.

Gucci handbags

October 5, 2009

On BBC Radio 4 ‘The Bottom Line’, the head of Gucci was asked why if it costs £300 to make a Gucci handbag does it sell at £1,000?

The implied question being why are you ripping people off?

The answer was we are not selling handbags, nor for that matter shoes, we are selling dreams. The head honcho then went on to say that if it was a handbag you wanted, there were hundreds of companies he could recommend.

In many ways this was worse than saying he ripped people off, he was conning them.

That is why, he went on to say, we employ good looking women in our shops, spend large amounts of money on fashions shoots and fashion shows.

The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho is a damning indictment of the fashion and film business and the cult of celebrity.

To a lesser extent The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. The film is far better than the book.