Who Made Your Clothes?

ethicalfashion fashionrevolution toronto

If you’re on Instagram, you’ve likely come across the “I made your clothes” movement. As a designer that produces exclusively in Canada (and a shop owner who only carries Canadian), this movement is very near and dear to my heart. 

Spearheaded by fashionrevolution.org, the #whomademyclothes campaign falls on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1138 people and injured many more on April 24th, 2013. Five. Years. Ago. Today! It’s objective is to showcase design processes, crafts and innovation in the fashion industry to ultimately educate the consumer and drive a change in buying behaviour.

I distinctly remember that day, kind of like how you remember when Princess Diana died. I was at my shop setting up for my work day and heard the news from a customer.  The mood was heavy, almost unbearable. The aftermath of this tragedy lingered for months to come.  As devastating as it was, this event offered a platform that finally shed some light on the living and working conditions of garment workers everywhere.  Not that most of us didn’t know that this was a major concern, but I have to say that this tragedy solidified what we all knew was happening but didn’t really want to admit.  A shift was finally taking place.  One where the consumer could drive, in a significant way, the fashion industry and it’s practices.  This shift not only impacted and shook the fashion industry to it’s core but it created a new wave of consumers.  The educated fashion shopper was now a thing!  And by simply choosing where they ethically wanted to spend their dollars, the consumer now held the fashion industry accountable.  At long last.

I immediately noticed a slew of new clients coming through my front door asking for Canadian-made garments.  At the time I had been in business for 6 or so years and had been an advocate for supporting local by exclusively selling Canadian designers. Historically, it had been a long and arduous task to educate the consumer on what buying Canadian meant, particularly when it came to the price tag.  This was changing!  Post Rana I was interviewed by the CBC, speaking about shopping Canadian, supporting the local economy and educating the consumer. I’d been celebrating and showcasing Canadian fashion for so many years and finally people were listening.

Mass-consumption in the fashion industry continues to be a thing but my hope is to inspire the consumer to buy less, care more, and know how to make the clothes they love last for longer.

Ninety-Eight being made, right here in Toronto!

Keeping it local is part of my DNA both personally and professionally - be it with Shopgirls, my boutique, where I continue to sell ONLY Canadian designers (10yrs in business now!) and of course with the Ninety-Eight women's wear collection, which is produced ethically right here in Toronto with a team of local production talent that we get to work with hand-in-hand. One of Ninety-Eight's goals for 2018 is to find a way to re-purpose as much of our dead-stock textiles and clothing as possible, and to reduce excess production and waste wherever we can.

It’s important to know that when you buy Canadian you will be spending more.  If price is a deterrent, here’s a general rule of thumb: How many times will you wear this item and divide that by the cost?  That will give you an idea of the value of the garment and will help you make an informed decision either way. When you know “who made your clothes” something else happens, a sense of pride in knowing that there is a real person behind the garment and that you are helping them succeed all the while looking fabulous.  How you feel reflects on how you look 100% of the time! 

Supporting the sustainable future for fashion, Shopgirls’ clothing drive continues until the end of this month, so clean out your closet and only keep pieces you absolutely love. We also have an incredible seamstress on hand to help save those pieces you just aren’t ready to part with.  In collaboration with Textile Waste Diversion, our efforts will hopefully help reduce excess in your wardrobe but repurpose those textiles in a responsible way.  Bring your stuff in, we are collecting anything and everything textile! 

For more info on Fashion Revolution or Shopgirls’ clothing drive, check out these links: 

https://www.fashionrevolution.org/manifesto/

https://www.shopgirls.ca/blogs/shopgirls-blog/tagged/eco-month

And designers/retailers, don’t forget to tag @fash_revcan on your supporting posts so they can find and repost them!

~Michelle


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