Tracing Conscious Consumerism in Fashion

Now, we are still trying to get over the fact that someone in the twenty-first century is telling us that fast fashion is leading to global exploitation. Contributing to the 36 million people living in modern slavery. For too long businesses have built supply chains to drive financial profits at the expense of people and the environment. 

 

human trafficking within the fashion industry, and how sustainable fashion is the future. Fabric For Freedom

 

Slavery did not stop with its abolition in the 19th century. Instead, it has changed its face and continues to target people globally. Modern slavery affects people of all ages, genders, and races. More commonly affecting the most vulnerable people and communities who lack education and are suffering from poverty.

 

Consuming Modern Slavery, is a study conducted by the University of Glasgow, the Royal Holloway University of London, and The University of Melbourne. The study states that modern slavery is: “A relationship in which one person is controlled by another through the violence, the threat of violence, or psychological coercion, and has lost free will and free movement, is economically exploited, and is paid nothing beyond subsistence.”

 

 

human trafficking within the fashion industry, and how sustainable fashion is the future. Fabric For Freedom

Image credits: A21 Campaign

 

 

Many governments are working to solve these problems. The UK government is working to give a concrete response to modern slavery and in 2015 published the Modern Slavery Act in collaboration with anti-slavery NGOs. The document increased the penalties and takes into account the power of consumers to penalise non-complying companies.

 

Attentive and ethically educated consumers are important instigators for change and the studies allow consumers to reflect on what modern slavery is and how they can act to solve the problem.

 

Today, out of the 40 million people who are victims of modern slavery worldwide around 16 million are in private sectors such as agriculture, production, and fashion. 58% of these people work in countries like China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan, countries known for their cotton production and garment factories.

 

 

human trafficking within the fashion industry, and how sustainable fashion is the future. Fabric For Freedom

 

 

In southern India, over 200,000 girls are trafficked to work in clothing production. In addition to these countries, the US Department of Labour has identified 14 other countries where forced labour is allowed in clothing and jewellery supply chains.

 

These new laws put in place by the Modern Slavery Act means that companies are required to provide data, supplier names and take concrete actions to eradicate modern slavery from their supply chains. A great example is the brand ASOS which has worked with NGOs to reduce the risk of slavery in their operations. This commitment benefits vulnerable people who need a safe job as well as their clients who demand ethically made products.

 

The road to ethical fashion is made of transparency and traceability in every part of the supply chain. The fashion industry must educate itself in order to tackle slavery and transparent production is essential in educating consumers about ethical choices.

 

human trafficking within the fashion industry, and how sustainable fashion is the future. Fabric For Freedom

 

Transparency seems to be the best choice to involve people and the study by Consuming Modern Slavery adds that “a slave-free label is not enough to persuade customers, they ask for and need alternative schemes such as QR codes and Continuous Improvement Certifications”.

 

But clothing is our identity, an expression, a choice. It tells our story, our character, who we are. - is there an alternative?

 

Speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves we were born out of a need to stand alongside those who justice does not reach, if we don’t rise up, where will deliverance come from? Empowered to lead, level out the playing field, be part of the solution - fashion fighting poverty, demand the impossible, those who honour conquer.  

 

Fabric For Freedom produces clothing that is made without forced labour, exploitation, or human trafficking in the supply chain. We as consumers have to raise our awareness on this issue by choosing companies that educate employees, partners, suppliers, and customers on ethical production. We can support charity-based organisations that strengthen local governments and work with companies like Fabric For Freedom to fight exploitation.

 

 

human trafficking within the fashion industry, and how sustainable fashion is the future. Fabric For Freedom

 

We can make a real fashion statement with what we wear, making fashion safer for everyone, one garment at a time. Express our involvement by buying ethical, sustainable and conscious clothing. Sica Schmitz, the creator of the Fair-Trade Fashion Show in Los Angeles said: “We are all related to fashion, which means that we have all the power to solve it.”

 

Looking at the problems in the fashion industry may make it look like a dark place. It is easy to feel powerless when assessing the situation but small steps are essential. 

 

"When a lot of people do a little, it adds up and makes a difference."

– Christine Caine, A21 Founder

 

human trafficking within the fashion industry, and how sustainable fashion is the future. Fabric For Freedom

Image credits: A21 Campaign 

 

Human trafficking is slavery.

 
It’s the illegal trade of human beings. It’s the recruitment, control, and use of people for their bodies and for their labor. Through force, fraud, and coercion, people everywhere are being bought and sold against their will–right now in the 21st century. 


But phrases like ‘slavery’ and ‘human trafficking’ can still feel ambiguous. This is the reality: slavery is violence. It’s physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. It’s forced prostitution. It’s barbaric working conditions.

 

Slavery is more stoppable than ever, and that’s why we’re here, rallying around the world and doing the work together. - The A21 Campaign

 

As consumers, we have the power to choose to buy ethically, to commit ourselves to support brands and change fashion for the better. Educating ourselves about ethical alternatives, thinking about what we wear and learning about the stories and the journey behind responsible fashion is the right path to follow.

 

human trafficking within the fashion industry, and how sustainable fashion is the future. Fabric For Freedom

Image Credits: Unicef

 

The Consuming Modern Slavery report says that consumers recognise that responsibilities are equally distributed between governments, companies, and consumers themselves. 

 

Better laws, international cooperation, corporate transparency, social responsibility, clear information and awareness of our consumption methods are the starting points to eradicate modern slavery.

 

human trafficking within the fashion industry, and how sustainable fashion is the future. Fabric For Freedom

Image credits: A21 Campaign 

 

Fabric For Freedom is a brand that prioritise ethically made clothing. We partner with incredible, purpose-led charities which operate globally to create respect, value and to improve the quality of living for others. These charities are passionate about eradicating poverty in working with and restoring those affected by human trafficking.

 

A21 is a non-profit organisation fuelled by the radical hope that human beings everywhere will be rescued from bondage and completely restored. By supporting A21, we are joining with them as the new abolitionists of the 21st century.

 

human trafficking within the fashion industry, and how sustainable fashion is the future. Fabric For Freedom

Image credits: A21 Campaign

 

We are also partnered with Freeset USA, a Fair Trade non-profit in business for freedom from oppression, poverty, & ignorance. Their mission is to bring freedom to communities in West Bengal, India and beyond through employment and education.

 

Freeset India also exists to offer employment to people who've been marginalized by society. They have strategically placed their facilities in communities written off by society because they believe these communities deserve to live a life of freedom.

human trafficking within the fashion industry, and how sustainable fashion is the future. Fabric For Freedom

Image Credits: Freeset India

  

Multiple petitions are already in place and you can help by adding another voice to these campaigns. In the aftermath of Fashion Revolution Week, a petition by Traidcraft Exchange asks the UK government to create a modern slavery database on the UK fashion industry. The petition, “Who made my clothes?”, aims to push the fashion industry to clean up its act. Although progress has been made, not every company is moving fast enough. For another slavery petition click here. 

 

Sign the petition to add your voice. Educate yourself, choose well and buy consciously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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