25 December 2011

Fashion for Social Justice

So on this Christmas afternoon, I found this very interesting article on fashion for social justice. Google "fashion" and more likely than not, even though the industry employs more people than agriculture and is ripe with worker rights violations, pollution and drama galore, "social justice" is probably not the first search result phrase you see- even in this pre-2012 Occupy-World era.

So in light of all this, I'd like to pick out the following passage (as quoted from Alissa Moore, creator of the Nomi Network, an organization that combats sexual slavery in SE Asia by equipping women with the tools of fair trade supported, fashion entrepreneurship),

"I've come to realize that whether we like it or not, we are all consumers caught in the sticky web of globalization. America in particular is defined by its consumer culture. Fashion is a consumer-friendly platform that allows people to publicly declare their identity -- it can be an attempt to control how others perceive you or an opportunity to visually express personal creativity. It can display status and class by reflecting your environment, employment, income, or the company you keep. And although not everyone is aware of the power or intricacies of the fashion industry, it is without a doubt a large part of our daily existence.
I believe that social justice in action is largely about transforming systems of empire into opportunities to bring relief to the oppressed. Currently, fashion seems to be an industry that promotes an unsustainable empire where the haves keep getting richer and the have-nots continue to get abused in the negotiation for a lower bottom line price. But if this industry was re-routed down a road of creating opportunities for equality instead of oppression, the results could be significant. Transparent supply chains being demanded by educated consumers could create a ripple effect of real change."
So before we explore the meaning of "fair trade," consider consumerism at its root. If we are to defend America against the stigma of consumerism, let's address the activities that continue to make it so.

Prior to this article, reciclaGEM had the pleasure of being introduced to a NYC based cooperative called Wishwas, (which means "faith") that has been created to empower non-USofA born, immigrant women in the five boroughs with skills in entrepreneurship, design, and fashion product development to live economically empowered and sustainable lives.  reciclaGEM is incredibly fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work with this wonderful organization. And they are looking for more designers to collaborate with and lead workshops. If you have technical skills and a big, fabulous soul, please contact Wishwas directly. (And they even create one-of-a-kind pieces from upcycled saris!!)

Continue to have good holiday cheer, and if this is a season for gifting for your loved ones, consider gifts that support the sustainable world that we all want to see :)

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