This week is Fashion Revolution Week 2022. A global movement of people who make the fashion industry work. The people who wear clothes and the people who make them.
Their vision? A global fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profit.
Fast fashion is a term that is becoming widely recognised as a key driver of climate change. On the face of it, as a consumer, you might think that fast fashion means cheap and affordable clothes but the truth is the real cost is being paid by someone else, somewhere else. Just last week this was published in the Guardian - Shein: The unacceptable face of throwaway fast fashion.
Cheap clothes which are bought from large brands often show no real accountability or transparency in their supply chain. You don't know how the workers are paid or treated. That's why at Ashanti Empress one of our core values has always been transparency and a direct link between our consumers and the tailors who make our clothes. You can find out exactly who makes all of our products here.
Francis is the creator of all our Men's shirts
In Ghana, where Ashanti Empress Clothes are produced there is a rapidly growing problem with donated clothes from the West being exported to Africa for resale. Many market traders in the Kantamanto market in Accra buy bales of these second hand clothes, locally known as 'dead white man's clothes'. They must buy the bales 'unseen', not knowing exactly what is inside until they take it back to their shop to sell on. The quality of clothes is often so poor that they are unsellable and end up as trash, in toxic dumps and polluting the waterways, with micro-plastics from textiles even entering the human food chain.
The West is exporting the problems associated with a fast fashion industry under the guise of 'donations' to countries that often don't have the waste infrastructure to deal with it. The OR foundation @theorispresent has been tirelessly documenting this fast growing dilemma and how it is affecting Ghanaians and their environment. They are raising awareness of an issue which many in the West are oblivious to the consequences of and only through awareness can fashion brands be held to account.
Find out more about the fast fashion crisis unfolding in Ghana in this informative Unreported World documentary.
This year Fashion Revolution Week is encouraging us to ask 3 ourselves 3 questions
1. Is the person who made my clothes paid a living wage? Go to your favourite brands website do a bit of research about the production of your clothes. For example if you go to our 'About us' page you can find out more about who we are and who makes your clothes.
2. How much did I pay for *insert favourite item of clothes here* And how much is it worth? We look at the price tag to see the cost of a garment but that is often not a true reflection of the social and environmental cost of the production.
3. What would the world look like if brands restored systems rather than depleted them? Big brands are avoiding the realities of the climate breakdown but continuing to push growth as a key performance factor and greenwashing their way into sustainability.
Small businesses, independent creatives are the ones making ripples in this sector. So before you go looking to those large brands have a look for some smaller brands, local markets and independent shops on your high street.
If you want to go one better then shop second hand, repair the clothes you already have or turn them in to something new.
Conscious fashion is the way forward.
Eric and his team make our hoodies, jackets, jokoto harems and mens shorts