Do you know who made your clothes?

This is the pertinent question that Fashion Revolution, a global movement dedicated to sustainable fashion, asks Who made my clothes?

The Joinery Sewing Co-operative

It’s about asking questions, raising standards and setting a sustainable example. The Joinery were approached back in 2015 to serve on the board of the South African chapter of Fashion Revolution. We were honoured to be asked to join an organisation that believes “fashion can be made in a safe, clean and beautiful way” and that it is possible to value creativity, quality, the environment and people equally.

Fashion Revolution’s ethos is in perfect alignment with The Joinery’s. We strongly believe that we need a fashion revolution – one that prioritises transparency, equity and sustainability.

Our work with Fashion Revolution is all centred around asking the question about where clothes come from as an attempt to raise awareness and get people thinking about the answer.

The Joinery Sewing Co-operative

Campaign activations have included wearing shirts inside out to show off where it was made. We’ve also run workshops with fashion students around the importance of slow fashion. There have also been social media campaigns, radio interviews and other such publicity. It’s about raising as much awareness as possible – only when enough people are aware of the issue and we start to act collectively will we see a turnaround in the industry.

Fashion Revolution was started in reaction to the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013. On Wednesday, 24 April 2013 an eight-storey commercial building in Bangladesh collapsed, killed more than one thousand people. This incident is regarded as the deadliest garment factory accident in history and had thousands of campaigners and activists taking note of the dire conditions that workers in the garment and textile industries work in.

This atrocity inspired Cary Somers and Orsola de Castro to start the Fashion Revolution as a way to draw attention to the need for a systemic reform of the fashion industry. Orsola is also the co-founder of the Estethica programme at London Fashion Week. The label she created in 1997, From Somewhere, makes garments from the recycled offcuts of luxury materials.

Years ago we were lucky to work with Orsola on sustainable fashion documentaries for Oxfam in the UK. We came together again in 2016 in London to brainstorm that year’s Fashion Revolution event and to look at ways to extend the Fashion Revolution message beyond the designated day, and to consider ways to cross fashion borders between London and South Africa.

It was a fantastic opportunity and a great boon to the local sustainable fashion industry.

We’ve also worked on two documentaries for Fashion Revolution.

The Joinery Fashion Revolution

The Joinery Fashion Revolution