Ethical Dressing...

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Evangel was given three beautiful dresses as a gift from someone special. They were from California and designed by a French lady called Jill Pillot, under the label 'Ricochet'.
Jills makes all of her clothes by recycling gently worn clothes and changing them into beautiful, 'wearable art'. 

Jill Pillot...
"Her journey to green fashion began 12 years ago when she opened the consignment store, Ricochet, while designing and constructing clothing as a hobby. To refine her technique, she studied fashion design and costume design at Cañada College. Today, she designs “wearable art” for children and adults in the forms of her two collections.
She uses donated clothing in both her casual Ricochet collection and the slightly more upscale Sans Paroles. 
Making clothing from recycled material “has always been a way of life” and “I want to inspire other people to recreate things from what they already have.”


I have been secretly looking closely at the dolls clothes when we go to play school, to figure out if maybe I do have enough logic in my brain to make clothes. I have no idea how to use a sewing machine, but I do remember making something that resembled a cushion cover once upon a time. 

I guess India is 'The' place to learn sewing if you want to learn, but it's also 'The' place for getting things super stitched for good value and in no time. So the 'lazy' and the 'haven't I got enough things going on' in me, puts it to the bottom of the list of things to do.

Khadi is Indian handspun and hand-woven cloth. It's the ultimate in 'Desi' (Local) and was first promoted in the Freedom Struggle of Gandhi's India. In a bid to claim back India's 'Self-Sustainability' and 'Spirit' at 'Grass Roots' levels, Gandhi encouraged Indians to wear only khadi cloth and not foreign cloth.

A quote from Gandhi I read here is way ahead of his time, reminds me of the issues of today regarding companies like 'Primark' and exploitation of child labour in developing countries. See this BBC website for full details.

"The industrialized countries of the West were exploiting other nations. India is herself an exploited country. Hence, if the villagers are to come into their own, the most natural thing that suggests itself is the revival of the Charkha (Spinning Wheel) and all it means."

I did watch the Panorama programme 'Primark: On the Rack' and as much as I cannot condone any child labour and certainly not a multi-national company profiting from child labour, I do see another side to this story.

You can see from my recent post 'Offsetting my "Ignorance Footprint"...' that I have had first hand experience with what would be classed as 'child labour'. Unfortunately in quite a few cases, (I can't give you statistics as this is just my opinion from observations I have made on my travels of India) some of the child labour is the only way a family can work together to survive.

Who are we to tell a starving family that they can't send their able bodied children out to work so the mother can stay at home and nurture her smaller children?
How can we judge a father who cannot afford to feed his children or pay for school shoes, who has no logic of his own to think that going to school will help his situation?
How do you tell a factory owner to sack his child labourers and not expect the children to get beaten by either their father, mother, landlord or himself?
What good is an education if you cannot concentrate or sit your exams because you have no food in your stomach?

Our ethical values are relevant to our own situations and the western world cannot just force their 'perfect world' on those less fortunate. 

How can we help?

Not by boycotting companies like Primark. They are giving much needed jobs to people whose  survival depends on them. They do have an Ethical Code of Conduct and a duty to their consumers to adhere to it. If Primark contract a factory to make their clothes and as is very common in India, the contracted factory 'outsources' its work to an unethical sweatshop, can Primark be held accountable?


There are many companies out there in the world of green and ethical clothing. This page has a long list of where to shop in the UK for peace of mind. 


The main point is to endeavor to be 'mindful' of what you wear... 
Don't focus on trendy fashion sense, but moral fashion sense...


Sharon J said...

Being trendy has never been one of my priorities; it's perfectly possible to look presentable without having to be one of the sheep who allow their choice of clothing to be dictated by designers.

Your point about Primark is a very good one. Boicotting them won't help anybody and as you say, it's often the contractors in India who sub-contract in order to maximize their own profits. Greed is, sadly, everywhere.

emmani said...

Greed is most definitely everywhere Sharon, and when it comes down to the last man/woman/child in the chain, it's those who suffer and are the most exploited. I can't boycott Primark anyway because it's the only place I can afford, even Oxfam is too expensive these days! Once again proof that poorer people are suffering because of the rich...

Anonymous said...

Great post and I've nominated you for an award on my blog today!