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Future Learn - 'Who Made Your Clothes?' University of Exeter

Future Learn - 'Who Made Your Clothes?' University of Exeter

As a passionate advocate for fairtrade and ethical slow fashion I decided to enroll on the Future Learn 'Who Made Your Clothes?' Course with the University of Exeter and Fashion Revolution.

This online course is free but you can receive a certificate and unlimited access to resources and materials for $39 which is approximately £30 depending on the exchange rate.

Review of the course recording

video here

WEEK 1

We were introduced to the concept of fast fashion and read about the Rana Plaza tragedy.

Definition of Fast Fashion

RANA PLAZA

Rana Plaza was a garment factory located in central Dhaka Bangladesh. It collapsed April 2013 and over 1,138 people perished.

Most of the workers were women the only bread winners working long hours in dangerous conditions. Many earned 5, 300 taka less than £54 month.

The disaster was unprecedented and horrific.

Since the tragedy many international fashion brands have signed the Bangladesh Safety Accord to improve fire and safety for millions of garment workers,but it remains up to stakeholders such as consumers to campaign for a living wage and decent working conditions.

 

WHAT ARE YOU WEARING TODAY?

Lesson 1.5 asked us provide details about the clothes we were wearing that day.

I chose to talk about my 'Stick With Foncho' T-shirt.

Fairtrade certified cotton T shirt - Sabeena Ahmed studying supply chains with Fashion Revolution and The University of Exeter

I love wearing my worn out 'Stick with Foncho to make bananas fair' fairtrade certified cotton T shirt.

BRAND: EPONA CLOTHING - LONDON

WEBSITE: WWW.EPONACLOTHING.COM

MATERIAL: 100% FAIRTRADE CERTIFIED COTTON

FLO CERTIFICATION: FFLE0186

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: INDIA & BANGLADESH

DESIGN: STANDARD CREW NECK T SHIRT, MACHINE STICHED, LABEL NOT SURE

COMFORTABILITY FACTOR: VERY COMFY

PRICE: APPROX £10-15

 

A link to the typical journey of their clothes.

A typical journey of Epona Clothing infographic - Who Made Your Clothes Course, Fashion Revolution and the University of Exeter

1. The cotton is picked and ginned in Kantabanji and transported to Noidar (India).


2. The cotton is spun into workable yarn for our factory in Dhaka.


3. The yarn is knitted and dyed, cut and sewn in our factory in Dhaka, this is where our yarn is transformed into garments you buy.


4. Once the finished garments arrive in the UK they are stored at our printers ready for purchase. All our garments are supplied both printed or blank.

I enjoyed reading the blog by Managing Director Tom Andrews talking about a living wage for workers in Tirupur.

 

Lesson 1.6 & 1.7 we were asked to examine our clothes in more detail and fill out the table below.

Who Made your clothes table in detail - Who Made Your Clothes Course with Fashion Revolution and the University of Exeter

Who Made your clothes table in detail p2- Who Made Your Clothes Course with Fashion Revolution and the University of Exeter

 I chose the categories SPECIAL, MEMORY AND FUN!

SPECIAL: This glamourous, silk, chiffon, hand embroidered zardozi and crystal traditional Pakistani party dress was purchased by my late mother for a wedding.

I understand an aunt in Pakistan purchased this dress late 2013. It has no labels & you can view it below.

In memory of my mother I chose this Zardozi outfit to wear during The Six Items Challenge with Labour Behind The Label - Sabeena Ahmed

Turquoise silk, chiffon, zardozi, crystal Pakistani dress

I'd hazard a guess it's handmade, bespoke & produced by a few talented home based workers Lahore, Pakistan.

 

This green embroidered kurta long blouse was hand embroidered by Haseena worn during The Six Items Challenge with Labour Behind The Label - Sabeena Ahmed

MEMORY: I decided to talk about a beautiful hand embroidered green cotton Balochi kurta (long blouse) purchased when I visited the Ra'ana Liaquat Craftsman's Colony, Karachi, 2015.

I rarely purchase any clothes because I know they don't have a transparent chain I can read and research. 

To be clear I haven't the foggiest where the cotton was produced but as Pakistan has a thriving cotton industry. Another educated guess is the cotton was grown and manufactured in the Punjab province where most of the textile mills & designers can be found.

My green embroidered hand stitched kurta (blouse) was designed by Haseena an entrepreneur, designer & advocate for Balochi traditional crafts and embroidery.

Interview with Haseena an entrepreneur, designer and advocate at the Ra'ana Liaquat Craftman's Colony, Karachi Pakistan (FAIRTRADE PAKISTAN SERIES) February 2015

You can watch Haseena's interview by the clicking on the YouTube link below.


 

If you want to have a giggle I've attached a collage of myself supporting the Make Fruit Fair Campaign.

Make Fruit Fair Campaign - Agent For Change Sabeena Ahmed and The Little Fair Trade Shop

FUN: This gorgeous Fairtrade Banana Suit was retailed by the Fairtrade Foundation Shop London. I was raising awareness for the 'Make Fruit Fair' campaign with Banana Link.


MATERIAL: I think it's thick felt, it has no labels and I have no idea where it was produced or stitched.

I will contact the Fairtrade Foundation and ask them for information.

I tweeted the Fairtrade Foundation last week and will write to them again.

I'll upload my tweet here.

 

Photo of tweet here

 

WEEK 2.

This week we were asked to take an outrospective look at our clothes and learn how to emphasise with others.

 The Power of Outrospection - Roman Krznaric

 

Lesson 2.1

We were asked to read about the lives of 3 garment workers share our thoughts.

Pages 26 - 33 from Fashion Revolution’s 2017 Money, Fashion, Power fanzine, illustrated the work and lives of three women:

  • Rohima, from Dhaka in Bangladesh
  • Anusha, from just outside Bangalore in India
  • Soeun, from Phnom Penh in Cambodia

 

Photographs here

Photographs here

Photographs here

 

Lesson 2.3

All learners were asked to choose one item of clothing they wanted to research in detail.

I couldn't research my turquoise dress as it has no labels so I've decided to conduct research about my fair trade banana suit.

Fairtrade banana suit 'Make Fruit Campaign' with Sabeena Ahmed and The Little Fair Trade Shop

Lesson 2.5 WHO ASSEMBLED OUR CLOTHES?

    No results found on Google.
    A search for banana costume companies has led me to a few companies who sell similar banana suits.
    Material is 100% Polyester
      We were asked to search for your brand, your ‘made in’ country, and key words such as ‘sweatshop’, ‘labour’, ‘child labour’, ‘strike’ or ‘factory’. (Stories about highly charged incidents and long term issues include these terms and often lead to detailed stories being told about garment workers and their lives.)
      Use standard searches, as well as more specialist ones like Google Scholar and Google Books, which can give you additional information, for example, from academic studies of garment factory labour.

       

      The Fairtrade Foundation use suppliers such as Epona Clothing London so they wouldn't use any suppliers other than fairtrade.

       

      We were then asked to research the garment brand scores using the information and links below.
      1. Note down the issues on which your brand scores well and badly, and the explanations for these scores. Turn the information you find into internet search terms to add extra nuance and detail to these stories.

       

      As I do not have a label for my banana suit it's difficult to research any of the links above.

       

      2. Check Fashion Revolution’s Research Library Pinterest board to see if the work and lives of people making clothes for your brand in your ‘made in’ country have been discussed in worker rights NGO and other reports. Look at their covers and titles, read the brief descriptions, click the images to get to the original reports, search for their human stories and read around them to find out how and why these human stories were generated, and why they are being told.

       

      One again I cannot complete this question.
      1. N.B. Always look both for human stories (i.e. garment workers talking about their lives and work) and background information (e.g. a brand’s human rights policies).

      Remember to copy information, quotations and sources into your research document as you do this. Add these details under the title – Tier One findings - and don’t forget to note down the names of the garment workers you find, as well as what they say.

      If you need help with your Tier One research, please ask for it in the discussion below. If you can provide help for learners who may be unable to access some of these websites, please say so.

      I am struggling so I've sent this message to the Fairtrade Foundation Shop.

      Dear Fairtrade Foundation Shop team,

       

      I would be very grateful if you could provide the following information about the fairtrade banana costumes I purchased a few years ago on the shop site.

       

      I'm currently studying a course 'Who Made Your Clothes' with the University of Exeter and we have been asked to conduct research an item of clothing.

       

      https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/who-made-my-clothes/1/steps/193263#fl-comments

       

      I would be grateful if you could provide the following information.

       

      1. Who is the manufacturer or parent company?

       

      2. Who stitches or assembles the banana costumes, do you they outsource to a company sub contractor abroad?

       

      3. Are they listed on a fashion/ethical transparency index. If they are which one?

       

      4. Are the garment workers given a fair wage/good working conditions?

       

      5. What materials are used to produce the banana suit and are they fairtrade?

       

      6. Are there any films, articles, photographs about the garment workers I could access online?

       

      Any support or advice in my research would be gratefully appreciated.

       

      I look forward to hearing from the team soon.
      Best regards

       

      Sabeena

       

      Lesson 2.6

       

      Who made their materials

       

      For this stage of your research, please follow the step by step search advice below:

      • After examining your garment’s label to find out the materials from which it was made, do an internet search to find out how each one is grown and/or made into fabric. You might want to begin with a website such as Wikipedia, which has a clothing material page.

      • Contact your brand’s customer service department by phone, email or social media and ask them to tell you from which companies and which countries they sourced your garment’s materials. Refer to the countries that you added to your table and ask if this information is correct.

      • Check Fashion Revolution’s Research Library board Pinterest again to see if you can find reports about the growing/making of your garment’s materials in different countries. Read these reports to find human stories and/or to get some ideas for search terms which may enable you to find human stories elsewhere.

      • See how likely it is that your materials were produced in countries where forced and/or child labour is common by checking this interactive US Department of Labor List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. Filter the ‘Good’ list to show ‘garments’, ‘textiles’ and/or ‘cotton’. Use your findings as search terms - e.g. ‘China’, ‘cotton’, and ‘child labour’ - to find the stories which go with this information.

      • If your garment is made from cotton, which could have been grown in Uzbekistan, check the Responsible Sourcing Network’s Pledge Against Forced Labor in the Uzbek Cotton Sector to see if its brand has signed. This is a campaign to eliminate forced labour from cotton supply chains in one country where it is known to be commonplace. Again, use your findings as search terms - e.g. your brand, ‘cotton’, and ‘Uzbekistan’ - to find the human stories that go with this information.

      • Another place to look for stories of human labour are in the case studies of reports into ‘industrial toxicology’, ‘occupational toxicology’, ‘industrial health and safety’ and/or ‘occupational health and safety’. Search for your material and each of these phrases and see what you can find. Some results may be entirely technical, but you may be able to find case studies detailing working environments, accidents or long-term exposure to substances used in the growing and manufacture of materials and their effects on workers’ lives. This search would be helpful, for example, if your item of clothing had been sandblasted.

      As before, don’t forget to look both for human stories (e.g. cotton farmers talking about their lives and work) and background information (e.g. International Labour Organisation conventions).

      Remember to copy information, quotations and sources into your research document as you do this. Add these details under the title – Tier Two findings - and don’t forget to note down the names of the workers you find, as well as what they say.

       

      Lesson 2.10 CREATE YOUR OWN STORY

      I haven't any information about my fairtrade banana suit as yet.

      So I've decided to research where the cotton for my green hand embroidered kurta (long blouse) was grown or manufactured.

       

      WEEK 3

      Lesson 3.3

      Who shoulders the blame fast fashion brands or consumers?

      I feel it is our responsibility as consumers to ask brands how much garment workers are paid and no reassure shoppers that workers are not exploited or harassed.

      By the end of week 3 learners learnt to be,

      Be Curious - gain a detailed understanding of garment supply chains, how they work, and the interdependence of places, resources and people upon which they rely

    1. Find Out - undertake some detective work on one item of your own clothing to create a story of the relationship between of its consumer’s (i.e. you) and its producers’ lives.
    2. Do Something - understand ‘political responsibility’ and the Fashion Revolution Movement’s ‘Theory of Change’ and, in this context, make a pledge to do something that you believe will improve the lives of garment workers worldwide.
    3.  

       

       

       

      Further Reading and Links:

      Future Learn WHO MADE MY CLOTHES? UNIVERSITY OF EXETER

      Fashion Revolution

      What is Fast Fashion?

      Rana Plaza

      Bangladesh Safety Accord

      Epona Clothing London - Learn More

      Epona Clothing London - Fairtrade

      Epona Clothing London - CSR

      Epona Clothing London - Blog News Jan 16

      Ra'ana Liaquat Craftman's Colony

      Fairtrade Foundation Shop

      Banana Link

      Garment Workers Diaries

      Fashion Revolution Fanzine - Money Fashion Power

      Roman Krznaric




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