This past weekend, I held a class helping people dye their own Gilded Cardigan and Iron Age Tank, a project from The Modern Natural Dyer. As you may know The Modern Natural Dyer includes shade cards which features a series of widely available natural dyeing extracts, the color they make, and the quantity of the extract needed to make that color. The Gilded Cardigan and Iron Age Tank is designed to show how one can expand on the colors featured on the shade card through the use of iron-infused water. Sarah, who works in the Verb dye studio, came to class and dyed her own A. Chanin cardigan and tank using pomegranate. Then, she dipped her cardigan in the iron-infused water to get green. I love her results.
As you are poking around the internet this week, perhaps checking your Instagram account, you may have noticed photos of people holding a sign which reads "I made your clothing" -- or -- just an image with the words asking "who made your clothing?" These photos are tied to a movement called Fashion Revolution, and is a particularly hot topic this week as it marks the anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza complex.
On April 24, 2014, 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Rana Plaza was a garment sewing factory who made clothing for Bennetton, Walmart, and many other large-scale clothing companies. The complex collapsed due to poor upkeep and over-capacity of workers. This type of working condition develops because corporations are trying to sell clothing at too low of a cost (and are possibly using too much money in marketing and paying top CEOs). In honor of those who have lost their lives, those who have lost a loved one, and for those who are still working in these conditions, this tragedy inspired the start of Fashion Revolution, a movement encouraging you "to use your voice and your power to transform the fashion industry into a force for good."
Fashion Revolution is encouraging people around the world to be curious; to consider who grows the cotton to make your t-shirt, or the wool to make your sweater, who is dyeing the fabric (and with what dye), who is milling the fabric, who is sewing the garment. And to present these questions to those labels you love to wear: #whomademyclothes
The movement has expanded from asking major labels to explain "who made my clothing" to people who make clothing and who care about transparency and trace-ability to come forth and declare "I make your clothing". This is a great time to learn and explore this exciting and burgeoning time in fashion and to support those making the effort. It's easy, search on the hashtag #imadeyourclothes
In the Gilded Cardigan and Iron Age tank, I specifically chose A.Chanin pieces because I could trace where the garments and the cloth come from. The garments are made in Florence, Alabama. The cloth is milled in the Southern United States of organic cotton. Regarding organic, my general rule of thumb is - if I wouldn't want to use a chemical (like a fertilizer or pesticide) for the sake of my health or the health of the environment, then I don't think its ok for a farmer to use it. Their health, and the health of the Earth, is as important to me as my health. We are one in the same. The pieces are undyed. In this project, you get to be in the driver seat as the dyer, and choose exactly what you would like to use.
I see the next evolution of this movement expanding to "I make my clothing".
I find making my clothing such a powerful way to cultivate new skills, engage my creativity, feel connected through meeting others with similar interests, and have even more of a voice over which materials I choose to use and why. I can support local farmers who are making a determined effort to live sustainably and to cultivate harmony between Earth and humans.
To support your efforts of making your own clothing, we have a winner for the West Water Tunic sewing pattern: Martina, who wrote "Dreaming of Squam…and wearing a West water Tunic made with indigo dyed linen with EVERYTHING!"
Fashion doesn't have to be bad. It doesn't need to hurt. Dressing ourselves can be filled with joy, a medium to express our journey and our ethics. You can help make a change!