On 8th March, we globally witnessed an outflow of support for women across the world - it was International Women's Day. A day when we were called upon to globally celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
Recall the Rana Plaza factory collapse where 1,134 people were killed. Eight out of ten victims were women. As manufacturing has become more globalised, developing world countries are competing to produce for clothing companies by aiming to be as flexible and as low-cost as possible. The trend towards ever shorter lead times from catwalk to the high street are further perpetuating this with environmental standards and worker rights especially women's rights, being compromised. The mass integration of women into the garment manufacturing industry has created the opposite to women's empowerment. Factory owners have taken advantage of women's unequal position in society to have a cheaper, more docile and flexible workforce. The result is rather than challenging these women's subordination in society, it is having exactly the opposite effect.
This status quo can only exist of it is perpetuated. As consumers and especially as women consumers, we have an opportunity, even a responsibility to send a big shout out to all those women working to supply us with the fashion we love. We have the power to bring about change for these women by making considered and informed choices as to what clothes we buy and from whom. After all, thanks to organisations such as Fashion Revolution, the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Fashion Transparency Index, we now have more information at our finger tips than ever before.
As a fashion designer with a focus on sustainability, I've committed to ensuring that women manufacturing my designs are fairly treated, maintain their dignity and through their employment are empowered to have control over their lives. At this stage of my journey, I've chosen to stay local and use UK based manufacturers. It enables me to visit the factories personally so that I can be confident the women (and men) have fair and decent working conditions. This is my way of giving a shout out to the women behind the label.