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

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

Who Made Your Clothes?

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 One

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 have upload my tweets below.

 

Response from Rebecca Turner at the Fairtrade Foundation about my fair trade banana suit - Sabeena Ahmed

 

 

The Lilfairtrade Tweet to the Fairtrade Foundation about my fair trade banana suit - Sabeena Ahmed

 

 

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?

    Many thanks to Rebecca Turner at the Fairtrade Foundation for  answering my query.

     

    Informative email response from the Fairtrade Foundation about my fairtrade banana suit - Sabeena Ahmed

     

    Hi Sabeena

    Thanks for getting in touch and apologies for the delay in responding to you.

    Here are the answers to your questions. Livslust organisation in an excellent design by a social enterprise in Latvia called Livslust, which supports a vocational program for people with a high risk of otherwise being marginalised -  http://www.livslust.com/   

    1. Who is the manufacturer or parent company? We commissioned the banana suits through a Swedish company called Fair Unlimited: www.fairunlimited.se
    1. Who stitches/assembles the banana costumes? Fair Unlimited work with a social enterprise in Latvia called Livslust, which supports a vocational program for people with a high risk of otherwise being marginalised -  http://www.livslust.com/  
    1. Is the company listed on a fashion/ethical transparency index? I don’t know, you would need to look at their website or get in touch with them to find out. But here’s some background on them: Fair Unlimited has been working with many Fair Trade in many capacities since 2005. We import and distribute clothing, shoes, bags, paper, glass and ceramic products, either directly from producer organisations or via European importers and brands such as Traidcraft, Oxfam Belgium,  Epona and Supreme Creations.  We also work with the design for many of the products, and produce our own Fairtrade pralines through a sub-contractor.
    1. What information is available about the garment workers? You can find out more at http://www.livslust.com/
    1. What materials are used to produce the banana suit? It is made from fleece as this is durable, but isn’t currently able to be Fairtrade certified unfortunately. Fair Unlimited sourced this material in line with their company policy and values.
    1. Are there any films, articles, photographs about the garment workers I could access online? Not that I know of, you may wish to contact Livslust or Fair Unlimited to see if further information exists.

     

    Best wishes,

    Rebecca

     

    Initial email to the Fairtrade Foundation about my fairtrade banana suit - Sabeena Ahmed

     

  1. Dear Fairtrade Foundation Shop team,
  2.  

  3. I would be very grateful if you could provide the following information about the fairtrade banana costumes I purchased a few years ago.
  4.  

  5. I'm currently studying a course 'Who Made Your Clothes' with the University of Exeter and we have been asked to conduct research on an item of clothing.
     
  6. I would be grateful if you could provide the following information as there were no labels about the manufacturer attached on any of the costumes.
    1. Who is the manufacturer or parent company?
    1. Who stitches/assembles the banana costumes?
    1. Is the company listed on a fashion/ethical transparency index
    1. What information is available about the garment workers?
    1. What materials are used to produce the banana suit?
    1. Are there any films, articles, photographs about the garment workers I could access online?

    Any support in my research would be gratefully appreciated.

    I look forward to hearing from the team soon.

    Best regards
    Sabeena

     

    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.
    With reference to the answers provided by the Fairtrade Foundation the banana suits were commissioned by a Swedish fairtrade company called Fairtrade Unlimited.

     

    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.

     

    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.

    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

    BRAND: FAIR UNLIMITED
    WEBSITE: HTTP://WWW.FAIR UNLIMITED.SE/
    MATERIAL: 100% FLEECE UNCERTIFIED
    FLO CERTIFICATION: N/A
    COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: SWEDEN
    DESIGN: FAIR UNLIMITED
    COMFORTABILITY FACTOR: VERY COMFY
    PRICE: APPROX £30

     

    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

  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9.  

    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

    Fashion Transparency Index 2017

    Fair Unlimited

    Livs Lust

     





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