This morning I found out about the #insideout hashtag on Instagram. One year ago today Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza factory collapsed. More than 1,100 workers died and 2,500 were injured in this factory, where many “fast fashion” or “disposable fashion” brands were made. Today, FashionRevolution.org, is asking people to wear their clothing inside out, to display the label on their clothes. The idea is to take a moment to be mindful of where clothing is made.
Today I am wearing a cotton shirt made by Alexandra Verschueren in Japan. Ironically, the construction is so flawless that nobody noticed it was inside out until I pointed to the label. Pride of craftsmanship, using quality materials, and treating the people who make your clothing properly are all important components of constructing a garment. I like to know who made my clothing, to have that connection with what I am wearing.
In fashion retail, knowing where clothing is made is something we deal with every day. It is a constant conversation we have with customers. At Gaspard, we make a conscious effort to carry designers that produce their clothing in a fair manner. Most are small companies, some are family companies. All have a story we are excited to share. All clothing by our in-house label MERCY is made in here in Toronto, using beautiful fabrics and buttons, often from mills that have been around for years. And if you come into the shop, you will likely meet the designers, Jennifer and Richard, themselves.
Sometimes being a conscious shopper does mean spending more. Cheap clothing is being paid for in other ways.
A few books that touch on the topic of production and consumption of fashion are Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, by Dana Thomas (2007) and The Coat Route: Craft, Luxury, & Obsession on the Trail of a $50,000 Coat by Meg Lukens Noonan (2013). They are both easy reads, not preachy, and not specifically about ethics, but are worthwhile if you are interested in learning a little more.
In Toronto, the Textile Museum of Canada is putting on a series of events on Conscious Consumption. Tonight at 7pm, there will be a talk at EWANIKA. For tickets visit consciousconsumption.ca or contact the Textile Museum of Canada at 416.599.5321 x2246.