I’m taking part in TRAID’s #SewSolidarity challenge to raise awareness of garment workers in Bangladesh and mark 2 years since the Rana Plaza disaster. I don’t really want to call it a disaster though. Disasters are what you call hurricaines or earthquakes or tsunamis.
Horror is what you call man made disasters like that. And all so people in the UK and other rich countries can buy 3 t shirts for £10. Urgh.
TRAID have challenged people to be crafty with old or second hand clothes made in Bangladesh or made by manufacturers who make clothes in Bangladesh.
Going through mine and my husbands wardrobes we had little from Bangladesh. I could only find this big chunky jumper which given the amazingly clement weather we’ve been having didn’t inspire me at all.
Instead I found these 2 items from shops that manufacture in Bangladesh – Gap and Matalan. They were actually already sitting in a charity bag in my car – its just lucky I’m so forgetful and had forgotten to drop them off weeks ago when I had a clear out.
So what to make? They’re both purple jersey fabric. The Gap tshirt is very worn as well – its been great for fieldwork in Africa as it covers my shoulders but is cool.
The tshirt was more promising but challenging. I’ve never really done any upcycling except when I lived in a beach hut and was too poor to buy clothes.
Once I’d cut all the flappy bits off I was at a complete loss. I’d be crap at the Sewing Bee. Absolutely no inspiration. None. Despite half an hour on Pinterest I didn’t have a Scooby Doo what to do.
So I’ve ended up with a kind of summery maternity top. Except I’m not pregnant. Arse! Guess I’ll just have to either eat 10 pies or get pregnant.
The Following is copied entirely from TRAID’s blog on #Sewsolidarity
How to #SewSolidarity
Source a piece of clothing made in Bangladesh (ideally from your wardrobe, a charity shop or a friend), or pick a brand which manufactures in Bangladesh. Information on brands manufacturing at Rana Plaza, and their contributions to the Rana Plaza compensation fund, is available from the Clean Clothes Campaign.
We want you to show you value these garments, and the people who have worked on it, by re-purposing it and giving it longer life. You might set yourself a major challenge with a complete transformation of one or more pieces showcasing your skills, or simply mend a garment turning it from unwearable to wearable in one short sewing session.
Share your progress through any of your online channels using the hashtag#SewSolidarity and then upload your finished piece on April 24th 2015. This could include:-
- The original garment/s
- The main sewing steps
- The finished piece
- Your reflections on stopping exploitation in the fashion industry and how we can support garment workers globally
- Using social media to contact brands (you can share your reworked piece!), and demand they pay into the Rana Plaza compensation fund AND to ask them about working conditions and safety in their factories.
How TRAID helps
TRAID commits the profits raised by reusing and reselling unwanted clothes to projects fighting exploitation in the fashion industry. Since 2010, TRAID has committed £175,000 to support the vital work of the National Garment Worker’s Federation (NGWF) in Bangladesh, one of the main garment focussed trade unions dedicated to improving safety and labour conditions in garment factories, and empowering workers.
We also work with local partner Nagorik Uddyog committing over £133,000 to establish four day centers where women garment workers can leave their children to be looked after, educated and fed nutritious food while they work in local factories making clothes for our high streets.
We raise these funds by collecting unwanted clothes in the UK, and after hand sorting them, we reuse and resell them in our charity shops.
Find out more about the progress made to secure compensation for victims of Rana Plaza, and more on those working to improve social and environmental conditions across the textile supply and production chain.
- Clean Clothes Campaign – Get involved in their #PAYUP campaign to secure compensation for Rana Plaza victims and their families. Plus, a great resource about working conditions in the garment industry.
- Watch Tears in the Fabric, a 30 minute documentary by social justice documentary makers Rainbow Collective about the Rana Plaza collapse as seen through the eyes of grandmother Razia Begum. The website also contains free resources including photographs and testimonials from survivors.
- Labour Behind the Label – TRAID partner and organisation working to support garment workers globally.
- War on Want – TRAID partner campaigning to fight global exploitation, including in the fashion industry.
- National Garment Workers Federation – Since 1984, the NGWF in Bangladesh has been campaigning to ensure fair wages, equal rights, dignity and the empowerment of women garment workers. As well as organising workers in the factories into trade unions and factory committees, they provide training and education, and have campaigned and lobbied hard on behalf of Rana Plaza victims.
- IndustriALL – a global union representing 50 million workers in 140 countries across sectors including textiles. They are calling on brands to pay compensation.
- IndustriALL Global Union represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors and is a force in global solidarity taking up the fight for better working conditions and trade union rights around the world.
- Take part in Fashion Revolution, a global campaign to improve conditions in the fashion industry.
- Read Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion by Tansy Hoskins