Most garments are cut and sewn by female factory workers in the developing world, where working conditions are poor and labour rates are low. Can you be a fashion lover and a feminist at the same time?
Another fashion is possible! This call is based on Belgian science philosopher Isabelle Stengers’ summons for a new science, a slow science which distances itself from economical interests which are compromising scientific research and its results, a slow science which should be allowed time to hesitate, time to question and time to verify its hypotheses without losing its autonomy and complying to the capitalist pressure.
On the same model, a new fashion is possible. This is a call for new methods of problem solving, taking up our weapons and fight against the status quo that dictates to us that there is nothing we can do, fight against the actual situation in which business is omnipotent and people are left behind with a feeling of powerlessness.
There is always something that can be done. There is always something that we can do, no matter how little our impact might seem to us. Most important is that we develop a consciousness about what is happening around us, which role we are assuming in this situation and what we can do to change it. Most important is that we sharpen the “instinct by means of which free people know what is or is not dangerous“ if we let George Orwell’s words resonate.
Raising our voices and joining the loud call for change is the first thing we can do. Let’s overcome our fear of public opinion, our fear of being laughed at, our fear of embarrassment which is too often pushing us to keep our mouths shut and our heads bowed.
It is not normal that garment workers’ rights are being ignored and violated!
It is not normal that buyers do not have access to transparent data about everything they purchase.
It is not normal that big brands and corporations are not liable for their actions and behavior.
It is not normal that their ethical commitments are not always properly measured and verified!
It is essential that we, as citizens of the world, all participate and take action to end the oppression of a large part of the world’s population which has to sell its workforce to barely survive. Raising attention to these issues can be done in many ways, one of which took place last week: Fashion Revolution Week. No matter how small the country, each has a part to play in this initiative and try, together, to reverse the situation.
For the third time in a row, Slovakia, a central European country of nearly 5.5 million inhabitants, held events in three different cities (Bratislava, Košice and Poprad). In a video from last year’s Fashion Revolution Week, activists created an installation on one of the most visited places in the capital city where they dumped 460 kg of old clothes, the amount of clothes thrown away every 10 minutes in the country. The video also indicated that only 10% of all the clothes that are thrown away are being recycled, while studies have shown that almost 100% of household textiles and clothing can actually be recycled (Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service). The video mentioned that an average Slovak person buys 13 kg of clothes annually and underlined, too, the fact that even small actions can bring important results, thus encouraging citizens to roll up their sleeves and raise their voice for a fair and sustainable world.
A note from the writer: The reason why I used Slovakia as an example for this article is not devoid of specific motives. Aside from personal reasons, I am currently undertaking a three-month internship in an art gallery in the centre of Košice and will be attending the events organized for the Fashion Revolution Week 2019 – a unique opportunity to see how other countries, which might not get international coverage in the media and the press, deal with such issues).