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Clothing news: March/April 2020

Emma Kerrison updates us on diversity and fast fashion in the clothing industry.

Milan’s Fashion Chamber adopts manifesto to improve diversity

Over 100 members of Milan’s National Fashion Chamber adopted a manifesto in January which aims to improve rates of racial and gender diversity within the industry. The move comes a year after leading Italian fashion brands faced criticism regarding racially and culturally insensitive designs, including the use of blackface by Gucci and Prada.

Milan is recognised as one of the fashion capitals of the world, however, dissimilar to its counterpart fashion capitals, London, New York, and Paris, Milan is considered to be greatly lagging behind in terms of its diversity, both on and off the runway.

The new diversity manifesto offered by the country’s National Fashion Chamber aims to increase racial and gender diversity within all sectors of the multibillion-dollar industry.

The manifesto calls for representations of varying ideas of beauty on the runway, as well as gender diversification in the top roles of fashion houses.

There has been some criticism that the manifesto lacks hard commitments, especially with the large fashion house Dolce & Gabbana notably missing from the adoptees. Yet campaigners say that this starting point is necessary and a long time coming.

UK fast fashion factories are a national shame

On the 21st January 2020, questions were raised in parliament by MP for North West Leicestershire, Andrew Bridgen, regarding the state of the UK’s fast fashion factories, and the mistreatment of their workers. After visiting factories in Leicester, Bridgen branded working conditions a “national shame”.

Workers from Leicester described illegal practices occurring in their places of work. They reported pay slips incorrectly labelled to show that workers are paid £7.50 an hour for 16 hours, whereas many workers will actually be working 40 hours a week and will only be paid £500 for the entire month; this equates to little over £3 an hour.

This is not the first time that issues regarding garment worker treatment in the UK have been raised. In November 2019, a scoping survey found evidence that textile and garment workers in the Greater Manchester region were paid as little as £3-4 / hr.

Despite these detailed accounts of injustice being presented to the UK government, last year, and as recently as January, recommendations to implement forced transparency within fashion supply chains have been refused. Meanwhile, the current business minister, Kelly Tolhurst, asserts that HM Revenue and Customs enforce the national living wage.

graphic: text six items challenge six items for six weeks are you up for the challenge? labour behind the label

A fashion fast to oppose fast fashion

Campaign group Labour Behind the Label are hosting a six-week sponsored challenge that encourages people to get to know their own wardrobe whilst raising money for garment workers around the globe.

Labour Behind the Label raise public awareness of inequalities and mistreatment of workers occurring throughout the fashion supply chain.

Their aim is to expose injustices within the fashion industry, such as poverty wages, forced overtime, and unsafe working conditions. As part of their efforts to raise awareness, they are encouraging people to pledge to undergo a six-week fashion ‘fast’ between 26 February and 9 April 2020.

To take part in the challenge, you must choose six items from your wardrobe and only wear these for six weeks.

The idea is that your day-to-day essential items must derive from the initial six chosen. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. You have unlimited access to underwear, accessories, active wear for fitness, and footwear.

Campaigners say that not only will this challenge help people to acknowledge the capacity of our current wardrobes, showing consumers that an expansive clothing collection is not necessary, but will also help to raise vital funds. Money will enable the campaign group to fight against injustice occurring within the global fashion supply chain. Sign up to the challenge.

Fashion shoppers boycotting environmentally damaging brands

Over three-quarters of UK shoppers switched, avoided or boycotted fashion brands because of their environmental policies in the last 12 months, or would consider doing so in the future, according to research by Kantar Worldpanel.

The survey of 1200 people found that 35% of Millennials had already avoided buying or had chosen a different brand over the last year.

88% of 25-34-year-olds and 83% overall said that some of today’s environmental issues had, in part, been caused by a lack of responsibility taken by some of the world’s leading brands. 82% from the same age group said that they sometimes or always check a brand’s sustainability commitments before making a purchase.

The survey respondents suggested that more needed to be done, with 90% saying that brands need to take more responsibility for the waste their products create and its environmental impacts, and 50% strongly agreeing.

However, over 70% of those surveyed also said that efforts by businesses to protect the environment were ‘too little, too late’.

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