Fashion Revolution Week
This week marks the sixth anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh.
1134 people lost their lives and approximately 2500 injured people were rescued from the building alive.
The building's owners ignored warnings to avoid using the building after cracks had appeared the day before. Garment workers were ordered to return the following day, and the building collapsed during the morning rush-hour.
More than half of the victims were women and their children, said to be in nursery facilities at the time.
Every time I spot a clothing label in my household printed "Made in Bangladesh" I wince.
For many it's not possible to simply boycott the high street, ethical fashion brands can be very expensive and certainly not accessible for the majority of us whilst on maternity pay.
We've put together a few tips to help when shopping for clothing in a sustainable way.
1. Do your research on the brand and their practices.
Where are their garments manufactured and in what conditions?
Can you easily access that information, for example do they have a section on their website detailing their practices and standards?
2. Do you really need it?
It seems like a flawed business model for a fashion brand to be asking you to consider if you really need to make a purchase.
But this isn't about not consuming fashion, it's about being conscious when you do.
3. Think about the cost per wear
If a garment seems expensive now consider how much wear you are likely to get from it in the future.
For example a cheap dress worn a couple of times for £20 and then thrown away or put in the charity bag because it has shrunk in the wash actually has a high cost per wear.
However if you invest £100 in a garment that you will treasure for years to come, wear countless times and know that the quality of the material and craftsmanship will stand the test of time, very quickly you have made your money back.
For breastfeeding clothing consider if the garment is your usual style.
If not then what’s the need to buy?There is no need to sacrifice your personal style to breastfeed.
We aim to design dresses that you can wear through multiple feeding journeys and beyond.
Consider cuts that are easy to feed in but you would also be happy to wear in the future.
4. Buy second hand or vintage pieces
Again this seems like an odd thing for a fashion brand to suggest but we do believe in principles before profits here at Ruma!
Depop is a great app that looks like Instagram and functions like Ebay where you can buy second hand clothing.
The theory being the less we consume first hand the more major brands will be forced to look at how much they actually produce.
5. If the price seems to good to be true, there's a reason for that.
You may have heard the saying "Fast fashion, someone, somewhere is paying the price".
If a garment seems so cheaply priced its too good to be true there are reasons behind this.
To offer a T-shirt at £2 and still make a profit margin, it means that garment has been manufactured so cheaply to begin with the likelihood is the workers have not been paid a satisfactory wage, if paid at all.
Apparel is now offered so cheaply that we have stopped valuing its worth.There is no story behind the manufacturing process or love gone into the craft.
Just cheap materials put together in horrible working conditions.
Adhil Rehman Senior Ethical Manager at ASOS
Here at Ruma we are working on expanding our supply chain. We receive emails and messages from far east factories every day inquiring about producing our next collection.
This would be relatively easy, it would be cheap, our profit margins would be a lot better.
But for us we have always wanted our brand to represent women and as 80% of garment workers are female, fast fashion is a feminist issue.
Our aim is to create beautiful breastfeeding clothes, made by women for women.
Women who have been paid a fair wage for their skills and don't fear going to work each day.
Women demanding quality clothing not just in the fit and the materials used in production but for the lives of the women who manufactured them.
We want to design beautiful garments for breastfeeding, created with love and made to last through multiple pregnancies and feeding journeys.
Currently we manufacture all of our designs in the UK using local seamstresses. All working mother's that we know personally and pay above the living wage.
We draft our own patterns and source fabric from a supplier based less than 40 miles away.
It would be great to keep our manufacturing here and we intend to do so as much as possible, however we are finding that its not easy to produce clothing in the UK.
There is a lack of manufacturing infrastructure and valuable skills have been lost when the industry as a whole moved its production to cheaper Far East factories.
We are looking at production in Europe and working with a supplier that offers full transparency around their working practices and supply chains.
We are not claiming to be perfect but we are ensuring that ethical production and environmental impact are at the forefront of any decisions that we make.
It's time for the fashion industry to put people and the planet before profits.
You can follow the fashion revolution movement with the #fashrev.
A poorly judged Instagram post from fast fashion label Forver21