The story told is one that we, as consumers of fashion, have all been aware of for many years, but somehow choose to ignore all in the name of cheaper and cheaper clothing.
To say the fashion industry is full of exploitation on all levels is not an understatement, but in reality the cold hard fact of mass production. Sadly, the people at the bottom of the supply chain, are the people who can ill afford to be anywhere else, as the industry does to some degree provide a living for the poorest people in the world; the people who have very little and therefor are vulnerable to the whims of a profit driven industry.
For more than twenty years the sad and sorry tale of the ‘rag trade’ leaves a lot to be desired and even thought legislation has been passed to help protect the exploited workers, that, like most other things, is not enforced or the companies involved have created means and ways around the rulings.
Michael Lavergne landed in the industry almost by default and spent many years establishing new markets, new production lines in some of the world’s poorest countries. Along the way he began to realise there must, and has to be, a better way of doing business in the modern world; one that upholds workers’ rights and treats them far better than they have been treated in many years.
Sadly, it is not until some horrific incident occurs, such as the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1130 people and injured 2500 more, the world takes collective look at the conditions that are a standard norm within the industry and cries out in horror. Unfortunately, little changes within the industry, as profit driven companies are still focused on the bottom line, and the worker still has little or no rights.
Thankfully, over the past five or more years there is a move beginning to occur towards ethical trading within the industry, that at this time appears to be gaining momentum with a number of companies beginning to take responsibility for the damage they are creating and condoning, not just on a human front but on an environmental basis as well.
Michael Lavernge has done a thorough and masterful job to laying out the industry, from the early days of the industrial revolution, to today’s gentle breeze of change beginning to be a small, but significant factor within an industry that is as corrupt as it is brutal, having little regard for human rights.
Much in the book will surprise you, and if you knew nothing about the industry before you will have a comprehensive understanding by the last page.
It is a compelling read and one that should be read by anyone entering the industry or studying the many aspects of what goes into making the clothes blithely placed on your back, regardless of where you purchase them and the branding!
It is also refreshing to know that the movement towards ethical trading and manufacture is beginning to make a small but significant difference.
In Lavergnes words, ‘ All the power we need to effect real change in the world is now in our hands. Truly it is. We decided where we spend our money. We decide what we choose to buy and believe in. (sic) …. As a society, as human beings, we must now decide firmly to do our part, or, by our silence and acquiescence, mark clearly for our children, our community and our future, what we have each personally deemed to be acceptable standards of dignity and justice.
Perhaps we should all take a look at where we shop, which brands we purchase and begin to take a responsible look at supporting those companies striving to make a difference, in an industry staffed by people who can use all the help they can get.
|Publisher||New Society Publishers|
|Distributor||New South Books|