There are lots of spectacular local brands here in Melbourne and across Australia working incredibly hard to make sustainable clothing. We wholeheartedly believe that you should support them. They are doing amazing work and we know it’s not easy.
Why then, I hear you ask, are we trekking across Southeast Asia in support of a positive fashion industry there, when we have great initiatives going on in our own backyard that also need support? Excellent question.
Buying clothing from local brands is definitely a good way to do your bit in the fight against the dastardly villain that is fast fashion. But if we’re going to tackle this monster of a problem, what we need is a diverse solution. A solution that recognises that there are a number of different ways to grow and support a positive and sustainable fashion industry.
The great but not late Jane Goodall puts it best when she says, “I like to envision the whole world as a jigsaw puzzle. If you look at the whole picture, it is overwhelming and terrifying, but if you work on your little part of the jigsaw and know that people all over the world are working on their little bits, that’s what will give you hope.”
We’ve chosen our part of the jigsaw puzzle. And at the moment it’s in Southeast Asia. But why there?
Many people say that the garment manufacturing industry is a way for developing countries, countries we’ll be visiting in Southeast Asia for example, to lift themselves out of poverty. But in the meantime, real life people just like you and I are underpaid and overworked. They’re working in conditions that we here in Australia would most certainly object to. Not cool yo.
Laws in place to protect these people are flimsy at best. Governments in developing countries are reluctant to legislate anything that will increase the cost of business. Fast fashion brands want their clothing made as fast and as cheaply as possible. If it costs too much to do business in one country, they take their business elsewhere. And in the meantime fundamental human rights such as a living wage and healthy and safe working conditions are compromised to keep costs low.
Which is why when we hear about brands creating clothing in these developing countries in a fair and sustainable way, we’re that much more impressed. It’s tough! Here in Australia we have laws to protect people from being exploited. Organisations such as the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union Australia and Ethical Clothing Australia are going to great lengths to make sure these laws are imposed and regulated. But in the countries we’ll be visiting, these kinds of protections and brilliant organisations don’t exist. Again, not cool yo.
We’ll be walking to share the positive fashion stories happening in Southeast Asia against the odds. Stories of people working to change a system that is beyond broke. Stories of people creating beautiful clothing with beautiful impacts. It’s our piece of the puzzle.
We’d love to know more about your piece of the puzzle! Please comment below and tell us what you’re working on. – Megan