Why do you need to join the Fashion Revolution?

by Andrea Paltzer 3 years ago
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Behind your clothes is someone who made them.

It’s a simple statement. Read it again.

Do you know who made your clothes?

I am Andrea, I am Swiss, I grew up in the UK and I live and work in Nicaragua, in Latin America, where I run a social project (an NGO) called the Earth Education Project (EEP).

Why am I asking you to ask yourself ‘who made my clothes?’

Because fashion can effect social change.

In 2013 we launched a fashion label called Chureca Chic. The sole aim of the label is to provide women in Nicaragua with jobs and education. We sell accessories that we make, from recycled materials and all the sales go back into running our artisan training courses and our education programmes at our recycling workshop. Giving women stable incomes and education. Our aim as an NGO is to be sustainable in all areas: social programmes, fundraising, sourcing & product production. Our slogan says it all: “Ethically Chic, recycled to empower”.

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2 years ago I catapulted myself into the fashion world, a world that I knew nothing about. But that didn’t really intimidate me, any social entrepreneur reading this will agree; when you have a social goal and you want to effect change through your business, you do whatever possible to make it happen, innovation is the name of the game.

What intimidated me was the mountain we had to climb to promote ethical fashion. I realised quickly and brutally that most consumers on the high street do not care where their clothing is coming from. They cared about the bargain they were getting or the designer label. But what if that label was providing inhumane working conditions. Would you pay more if you knew that by doing so you could literally save a life?

I found out, I guess something I knew anyway, the average person is too removed from the production chain of their clothes. There were no faces behind the labels so it is easy to think it doesn’t matter. So the mountain we had to climb was not just creating and selling innovative products, it was about educating consumers about the fashion supply chain so that consumers recognised the human value in what they were buying.

Part of Chureca Chic’s journey has been to join the debate about ethical fashion and what it actually means. And in doing so I have found myself debating the merits of fashion. I am not a designer, I started a social project and, personally, I always thought the fashion world was fickle. BUT I love people and my sole purpose for Chureca Chic is to give a voice to women who didn’t have any way out before. So therefore I entered the debate about ethical fashion because I realised that fashion was the way out of poverty for these women and can be for many other women, and men, who are living in poverty.

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Fashion as an answer to poverty? Yes. Did you know that 1 in 6 people work in the fashion industry? That is over 1 billion people. 1 in 6. Again, take a moment to really digest this fact.

It is the industry that most relies on human labour in the world. So in other words, most people in this world work in fashion. Yet the faces behind this industry are lost because we don’t ask ‘where did this come from?’ But, the fact of the matter is, that every day, you affect someone’s life because you get dressed. And what you buy to wear can actually make a difference. It can have a huge social impact. Fashion can be an answer to poverty. It should not be the cause of poverty and environmental destruction. It can effect social change. I believe this because our whole development model is designed around a fashion label, and it is working.

In this journey that Chureca Chic has taken me on I have met a huge number of inspiring, motivated, amazing people who believe this too. Along with the women we work with in Nicaragua whose lives are changing for the better though making jewellery.

We are part of the Ethical Fashion Forum, we’re one of 1000s of brands working for our own ‘fashion revolution’; to change lives through fashion. But we’re not enough. Because if you don’t also join us and ask the question ‘who made my clothes’, if you don’t realise the power of your purchase, our voices will drown and get lost.

So again, I’ll ask “Do you know who made your clothes?”

Let’s come together today to give every 6th person a voice. Take a picture of yourself today showing a clothing label and tweet to the manufacturer #whomademyclothes.

That’s all you have to do. I think you know why now.

 

To find out how we’re changing lives through Chureca Chic watch our video: http://bit.ly/CCstoryENG

Contact me at: andrea@eartheducationproject.org

 

Photos by Yorch Sans

 


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