Posts Tagged ‘slow fashion’

Russell Brand sweatshirts from sweatshops?

June 12, 2015

Many garment-producing countries have minimum wages that are less than half of the value of a wage that is enough to allow a family to live with dignity. — Anna McMullen, Labour Behind the Label

A hatchet job in the Daily Mail, shock horror, Russell Brand exploiting Bangladeshi workers in their sweatshops to expand his evil clothing empire.

Shoddy reporting. Nothing more than a hatchet job on Russell Brand. Weasel words like grade-A hypocrite.

Russell Brand made a mistake. In good faith he placed a contract with assurances on production. When these assurances proved to be false, he admitted he got it wrong, pulled the contract.

Could the reporter not have gone to Russell Brand and said, did you know the conditions of production? But no, run to Daily Mail, Do Not Pass Go, collect thirty pieces of silver on the way.

Surely the focus should be on the company,  not Russell Brand? For who else are they delivering non-ethical clothes?

The company, Belgium-based  Stanley & Stella, admitted to the Daily Mail it had problems with illegal overtime in the Bangladesh factories.

According to the Daily Mail its clients include Next, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Stanley & Stella claim its workers are paid more and forced to do less overtime than in rival factories

The most important thing that makes our business a sustainable business, it is that we commit to have continuous improvements pushing forward all kind of barriers.

The company claims it is working to reduce illegal levels of overtime at the factory and had ended contracts with other factories which refused to stop pushing workers into 90-hour weeks.

Even the Daily Mail is forced to admit that industry regulator, Fair Wear Foundation, says the factory is one of the best employers in the country and pays more than other less scrupulous operators.

Thus even from accounts in the Daily Mail, the company Russell Brand placed his contract with is better than the industry average, not only better ‘one of the best employers in the country and pays more than other less scrupulous operators’. Not good, not ideal, but not quite as bad as the Daily Mail would have its readers to believe.

If the Daily Mail is now so keen to highlight the plight of workers in Third World sweatshops, will we be reading a few more stories, the first of a series, this time highlighting the big name fashion brands? Will the Daily Mail be refusing adverts from these brands until they clean up their act?

Stanley & Stella claim high ethical standards, that they are on the ground monitoring factories. How do they then explain workers paid less than a living wage, forced to do illegal overtime? How do they justify the huge disparity between low production costs and high retail price?

The Mail has discovered that those who make sweatshirts for Brand’s website work for up to 11 hours a day.

The starting monthly wage is 6,200 Bangladeshi taka (TK) a month, or around £52. This works out at around £1.98 a day, excluding overtime.

The minimum legal wage for Bangladesh is TK5,300 (£44.21) per month. That is far short of the TK25,687 – around £214 – which campaigners say is the minimum living wage.

Russell Brand placed his contract in good faith.

A big difference to the fashion industry whose buyers know exactly what is going on. They play factory against factory, country against country, to force down prices. They could just as easily use their buying power to force up labour and environmental standards, but they do not.

But real issues are raised. Workers are being exploited in sweatshops, not only by Primark, also brands selling expensive clothes, with massive mark-ups, fools and their money easily parted for a label.

Factory gate price around a dollar, retail in the shops around $70. A huge mark up. The wages to the workers could easily be doubled, and it would make not a jot of difference to the retail price.

Gap, WalMart, Hugo Boss, a very long list.

What you pay for is the label.

If the Daily Mail was interested in the fate of workers in sweatshops, they would be exposing Gap and other big names.

Big names play one factory against another, one country against another, to force down prices. They know what goes on in the factories, but prefer to turn a blind eye.

Questions need to be answered by Russell Brand on the massive mark up, where the clothes are being made, the wages of the workers, the hours worked, the working conditions.

Also, what social enterprises are being supported? We know Trew Era Cafe has been supported with money from Revolution.

Transparency is important for credibility. Set higher standards, force others to follow.

Slow fashion. Unbleached natural organic cotton, kinder on the environment, softer on the skin, looks good too. If dyes are to be used, then natural dyes.

Cotton is a very dirty crop. It uses vast amounts of water, huge amounts of chemicals. More water, more chemicals in the processing of the cotton. The clothes are usually made in Third World sweatshops.

Industrial cotton is one of the most environmentally damaging crops that Man grows. Organic cotton is much pleasanter to wear. Organic cotton is biodegradable and can easily be recycled.

Industrial cotton requires an enormous amount of pesticide to keep it viable. Each pound of product requires a third of a pound of pesticides, which adds up to 25 percent of all pesticides used in the US for 13 million acres of cotton. Many cotton pesticides are EPA toxicity class I, like the viciously effective insecticides Methomyl and Methyl Parathion. A study by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation revealed that pesticide usage per acre increased during the 1991 to 1995 period by 4.21 pounds to 14.15 pounds per acre. The reality in the Third World, where pesticide regulation is more relaxed, is much worse.

Commercial white cotton is by far the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world and a major global crop. Fifty-five countries rely upon cotton for a significant percent of GDP. Cotton processing also takes another toxic toll, as the use of chlorine bleaching agents, formaldehydes and phenols is quite dangerous to all life. Fabric dyes utilizing arsenic, lead, cadmium, cobalt, zinc, and chromium are also very problematic. All processing stages produce large amounts of toxic wastewater. Azo dyes are cheap and common, about 2,000 exist. Many are water based and possess highly carcinogenic material absorbed by the skin and accumulated in the body. Inhalation, aquatic exposure or simple skin contact can be harmful. The EU has banned import and usage of the more toxic versions containing arylamines, though these products are used elsewhere. Other acid dyes produce waste streams with pH values above 11 and with possible carcinogen content.

Organic cotton is good for the planet, good for ourselves.

Natural cotton does not have to be any colour so long as it is off-white. Cotton grows in varying hues from purple to brown. Cross-breeding programmes have selected cotton of red, blue, green. This eliminates the need for dyes.

Slow fashion would set a standard. Clothes that look good, clothes that last. Style not fashion. Fashion is consumer addiction.

If people ask questions where their clothes come from, we would see an improvement.

Labour Behind the Label are the people to talk to about sweatshops. Maybe a Trews on the topic.

Labour Behind the Label are part of a European network on sweatshops.

Maybe a different approach is needed.

A few years ago, Paulo Coelho did a deal, whereby Mango sold limited edition t-shirts. The proceeds went to support kids in a favela in Rio through the Paulo Coelho Institute. Paulo and his wife Christina support these kids. One way is selling limited edition art and jewellery through Etsy.

The Way of the Bow has been produced as a collaborative effort. People can download for free. If they wish, they can make a donation to support the kids in the favela.

We used to have dark Satanic mills producing fabrics, they dominated the landscape. Now few are left. In their heyday they destroyed the India cotton industry, now it is the other way around. But, take into account shipping, employment conditions, it is now viable to produce quality clothes in these mills. Maybe one can be contracted to produce, or maybe the model Paulo Coelho used with Mango.

The East End of London used to be home to many sweatshops. Do any still exist?

Talking to my own contacts. T-shirts/sweatshirts retailing at a tenner, a fiver from supplier. A 100% mark-up. Supplier sources direct from sweatshops in Bangladesh. How much would it cost to source if specified unbleached organic cotton, living wage, no illegal overtime?

Advantage of production in the dark Satanic mills is better control. Can we trust what we are told in Bangladesh with the level of corruption?

Look to Barcelona, interlocking coops. When something is needed, a new coop is established. Crowd fund one of the East End sweatshops as a coop. Community owned, better pay and working conditions, producing clothes for other social enterprises.

The design of the sweatshirts poor. Remove what is on the back, retain small logo on the front. This would also reduce costs.

M&S cynical exercise in greenwash

April 26, 2012
M&S CEO Marc Bolland and Joanna Lumley at The Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, London for the launch of new campaign 'Shwopping'.

M&S CEO Marc Bolland and Joanna Lumley at The Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, London for the launch of new campaign 'Shwopping'.

I listened with growing incredulity to the M&S breathtaking crass hypocrisy and exercise in greenwash on You and Yours BBC Radio 4 this lunchtime.

M&S are shedding crocodile tears at the amount of clothes that are dumped every year in landfill. A billion items of clothing they claim. Their solution is that we take all our unwanted clothes to M&S for recycling, and no doubt replace with new clothes whilst we are there.

Cut out the middle man, take your clothes direct to a charity shop.

Support slow fashion, not fast fast; dress for style, not fashion; buy quality, not rubbish.

Is it necessary to replace what is in a wardrobe every few months with new clothes?

In M&S their food is over-packaged. I suggest we return all our packaging to M&S.

M&S charge 5p for a plastic carrier bag. Read carefully the small print: Only 1p goes to an environmental charity. This a cynical ploy to milk the customer and to distract from their over-packaging.

Why no paper bags in M&S for our loose fruit and vegetables? The bags can then be recycled or composted.

The stuff we buy spends less than six months in our homes before it continues on its one-way linear trip to landfill or incinerator.

The Story of Stuff

M&S compared the recycling of clothes through their stores with the successful recycling of glass bottles! When was the last time anyone took a glass bottle back? We recycle glass, not bottles!

Yes, we need to reduce our waste and energy consumption. We do so by reducing consumption and increasing recycling, not by taking our unwanted clothes to M&S and whilst we are there replacing old for new.

When you donate to charity shops, choose the smaller charities who do not throw away after a couple of weeks what you have taken the trouble to donate. Avoid Oxfam and British Heart Foundation who rip off customers with the prices they charge. Another reason to avoid Oxfam is that they are the partners in this greenwash scheme with M&S to encourage increased consumption.

Are people really this gullible that they fall for a cynical exercise in greenwash?

Shwoping is a slick marketing campaign to encourage easily led fools to empty their wardrobes and run off down to M&S to buy more clothes. Green it is not.

A green campaign, which shwopping claims to be, would encourage slow fashion, to buy quality, to value our clothes, not throw them away.

Shwoping is not sustainable fashion.

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

Do we recycle enough of our clothes?
Disposable clothes
Oxfam rips off its customers (yet again)
M&S launches ‘shwopping’ scheme
Joanna Lumley joins M&S to launch shwopping
Joanna Lumley launches Marks & Spencer’s Shwopping campaign

Scarves for Solidarity

April 5, 2012

Scarves for Solidarity are designed by Catalina Estrada. Monies raised go to support Laboratorio del Espíritu, a project in Colombia.

I just couldn´t possibly feel happier and more proud to see one of my favorites projects ever finally starting to come out. It´s a dream come true and I hope you like it as much as I do.

After visiting the Rural NGO Laboratorio del Espíritu (directed by amazing Gloria Bermúdez) a few months ago, I was totally in love with their project, it completely stole my heart.

Their aim is to promote local development with activities focused on the value and strength of the rural areas with special dedication to Arts and Crafts. Their main base is a Rural Library and Community Center located at Vereda Pantanillo, Municipio de El Retiro – Antioquia, Colombia.

Catalina Estrada illustrated Moments, a diary with quotes from Paulo Coelho.

Slow fashion: artisan designers supporting projects for the rural poor.

Fast fashion: global corporations exploiting sweatshop labour.

scarves for solidarity

scarves for solidarity

scarves for solidarity

scarves for solidarity

poetry in scarf by 9 year old Francy Arledys González Castañeda

poetry in scarf by 9 year old Francy Arledys González Castañeda

Poetry in this scarf written by 9 year old Francy Arledys González Castañeda:

Yo soy el fuego que arde en las tardes
Yo soy el sol del día que ilumina
Soy las nubes que corren
Yo soy la flor roja de amor
Soy el agua pura del río
Soy Dios que viene desde el cielo
Soy la lluvia que cae del cielo
Soy los pétalos que caen del viento
Soy el viento que sopla con amor
Soy la naturaleza que crece y crece

I’m the fire that burns in the afternoons
I’m the sun of the day that illuminates
I’m the pure water of the river
I’m God that comes from the sky
I’m the rain that falls from the sky
I’m the flower’s petals that fall from the wind
I’m the wind that blows with love
I’m the nature that grows and grows


Scarves for Solidarity pájaros

Scarves for Solidarity pájaros

Scarves for Solidarity pájaros

Scarves for Solidarity pájaros

poetry in scarf by 12-year-old Jhon Jairo Rojo Flórez

poetry in scarf by 12-year-old Jhon Jairo Rojo Flórez

Poetry in this scarf written by 12-year-old Jhon Jairo Rojo Flórez:

-¿Si tuvieras 24 horas de vida, qué harías?
-Deshacerme de todo lo que tenga
Ver payasos
Recorrer la vereda
Ver los pájaros
Ver como los pájaros salen del huevo

-¿If you had 24hours of life what would you do?
-Get rid of everything I have
See clowns
Walk along the village
Watch the birds
Watch how the birds come out of the egg


Scarves for Solidarity pantera

Scarves for Solidarity pantera

Scarves for Solidarity pantera

Scarves for Solidarity pantera

poetry in scarf by 9-year-old Tania Flórez Lince

poetry in scarf by 9-year-old Tania Flórez Lince

Poetry in this scarf written by 9 year old Tania Flórez Lince

Soy el sol de mi cuerpo
Soy la nube negra cuando estoy triste y me siento fea
Soy la luz más bella de mi casa y cuando me enojo soy una pantera
Soy la estrella más bonita del universo y cuando lloro me apago todo Soy la luna que alumbra tu caminar y cuando me odias tanto me enojo y me pongo a llorar
Soy una nube negra, triste y fea
Soy la estrella más bella que te alegra
Soy el sol brillante que se alumbra con la alegría

I´m the sun of my body
I´m the black cloud when I´m sad and I feel ugly
I´m the most beautiful light of my house and when I get angry I´m a panther
I´m the most beautiful star in the universe and when I cry everything everything gets dark
I´m the moon that lightens your walk and when you hate me so much I start to cry
I´m a black cloud sad and ugly
I´m the most beautiful star that cheers you up
I´m the shinny sun that brightens up with happiness


Scarves for Solidarity pescados y fruitas

Scarves for Solidarity pescados y fruitas

Scarves for Solidarity pescados y fruitas

Scarves for Solidarity pescados y fruitas

poetry in scarf by 12-year-old Jonathan Camilo Arias Hincapié

poetry in scarf by 12-year-old Jonathan Camilo Arias Hincapié

Poetry in this scarf written by 12 year old Jonathan Camilo Arias Hincapié:

Agüelo yo te quiero mucho y un día de estos voy a ir a Bogotá
y le ayudo a trabajar y le llevo plata y comida, y se viene a vivir por aquí y nos ponemos a pescar pescados y truchas y capitanes y tilapia.
Y jugamos el cogido y cogemos guayabas y moras. Y ayudarle a mi papá, y le ayudo a venir y dormir y soñar y jugar mucho.
Y te quiero mucho y con cariño. Chao.

Grandpa, I love you very much and one of these days I will go to Bogotá and I will help you work and I bring you money and food and
you come to live here and we go fishing for fish and trouts and captains and tilapia.
And we play and we get guavas and blackberries. And we help my father and I help you come here, and sleep and dream and play a lot.
And I love you very much. Bye


Notepads, notebooks and postcards available with these same images are available at the Laboratorio del Espíritu. If you want to pre order your notebooks, notepads please contact Laboratorio del Espíritu directly:

tel: (+57) 315 516 43 03 · e-mail:


Special thanks to Alfredo Molina for his generous donation of these scarves produced in Spain.

Special thanks to super talented Lucrecia Perez for sewing the borders of the scarves in Spain.

Special thanks to Esteban Clavijo, Jaime Zuluaga, Andrea Gutierrezand Adriana Arias from Línea Directa, for their generous donation of the scarves produced in Colombia as well as all the love and care they have put into this project.

Special thanks to Pancho Tolchinsky as always for his lovely pictures of the scarves.

Special thanks to those who would like to contribute with this beautiful project.


Top Story in The Sue Searle Daily (Thursday 5 April 2012).

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


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