Swimming Against The Tide – Supporting Grass Roots And Kindness in The Fashion IndustryKate Stuart
Kate Stuart is a practicing artist, writer and craftswoman based in the North East of England. She specializes in up-cycling, zero waste living, quilting and painting with acrylics on canvas. She owns The Phoenix Green Store, which she hopes will become Newcastle upon Tyne’s first zero waste store. She is covering Fashion Revolution Week for No Serial Number Magazine, between 23rd – 29th April 2018. This is the fifth in a six part blog series for Fashion Revolution Week, exploring ways to become more conscious about the clothes you choose to buy, as well as the ones you already have.
Revolutions always start with the lone voices, standing up for something that desperately needs to be changed. When, at 08.57am BST, on the 24th April 2013 the Rana Plaza factory collapsed, killing 1138 and injuring thousands more, Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro were single voices calling out through the despair of the fashion industry’s impact on the lives of so many clothing factory workers. Those strong and determined voices have now been joined by thousands more across the planet in a collective demand for a Fashion Revolution. While there are things which have not changed yet, there are many more that have. One change that is evident is that grass roots designer makers, those in the early days of their careers in fashion, are choosing to put ethics, conservation, social responsibility and kindness back into an industry that’s been sorely lacking in all these areas for a very long time. One company putting kindness back into fashion, is Willowknd, launched this year by Hannah Price. Swimming against the tide of the big brands that have historically put profit over people, Hannah is committed to making waves and making changes, and told me, “I wanted to be part of the change to help our planet and make it a kinder place for humankind, our animal friends and the environment.”
I asked her what impact she felt Fashion Revolution Week could have on people who may not have previously considered the impact of their clothing choices –
“I think Fashion Revolution Week has immense potential to create a behavioral change with consumers by highlighting issues commonly ignored by industry leaders where sustainability is concerned. For example, all Willowknd pieces carry the official Carbon Footprint Reduction Label and utilize only renewable wind power. This, unlike standard grid electricity commonly used in clothing manufacturing, is clean, produces no greenhouse gas emissions during production and consumes no water.” Hannah Price, Willowknd, April 2018.
Willowknd is also proud to use manufacturers that are members of the Fair Wear Foundation, a not for profit organisation that works with the fashion industry, from brands to factories to government bodies, in order to verify and improve workplace conditions. Willowknd garments all carry the Fair Wear Foundation label, so that consumers know the clothes they are buying were produced ethically, with the well-being of workers paramount. Ask Hannah #WhoMadeMyClothes, and she’ll be able to tell you.
Aside from asking #WhoMadeMyClothes, one great way we can all help to shift the perspective of the big name brands and high street fashion outlets, is to support new, incoming designer makers like Hannah. Consider spending your money with small, grass roots companies who have already worked sustainability, social responsibility and compassionate circular business models into their brand, because they know it’s the right thing to do, not because they think it will increase their profit margins. After all, if kindness, in fashion, as in life, costs nothing, brands should not be charging the earth for it.
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