“Saving the world in style”, says Atelier Tammam‘s Twitter bio. And this week, the sustainable London design house has tapped into that philosophy to commemorate the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster with other compassionate designers such as OUTSIDER, Kitty Ferreira UK, Cecilia Hammarborg, Nancy Dee and Deborah Campbell Atelier. Together, these designers are championing a new, kinder and more transparent fashion industry.
A range of events, workshops and lectures, along with fashion shows from conscious designers mark the week leading up to 24th April, the day of the horrifying Bangladesh disaster that saw over a thousand workers lose their lives in the collapse of a factory that produced clothing for some of the world’s biggest retail giants. These people’s deaths may have been tragic, but there is a way to think that they did not die in vain: since that fateful day, fashion has been questioning and discussing the processes and procedures of the industry, and how to make them more sustainable, for people and the planet.
“We’re breaking new ground”, says Valerie Goode, founder and creative MD of Kitty Ferreira UK, a label which produces dreamy creations in peace silk (find out about this compassionate silk here). “There are many things the customer is unaware of. Yes, sweatshops make the news, but how many people know that over 40,000 silk worms are boiled alive in order to make just one silk blouse on the high street? People are always surprised by this knowledge”.
Also fighting the cruelty-free corner is London-based vegan brand Bourgeois Boheme, whose collection for men and women was on display this week at Atelier Tammam. “Customers prove that ethical sells, time and time again, and they are growing in numbers”, says the brand. “We’re all growing more knowledgeable about the ‘dirty’ side of fashion”.
To champion a “cleaner” fashion industry, Bourgeois Boheme produces their shoe collections in skilful ateliers in Portugal, where every pair is handcrafted – and the brand personally visits and works closely with the men and women making their collections.
In her own collections, Atelier Tammam’s founder Lucy Tammam is all about communicating the alluring, beautiful side of sustainable design. And this week, she’s brought together a variety of designs, from conscious jewellery to vegan leather, to show that fashion can be kind to humans, animals and the planet, without sacrificing the style factor. “This event gives you the chance to ask, who made my clothes?” says the Bloomsbury designer.
And there are several reasons why this question is so important. Fashion Revolution Day, 24th April, was coined to bring a face to the anonymous mass of workers who craft our jeans, dresses and shoes in underdeveloped areas of the world. Researching and reflecting upon their conditions offers valuable insight into how the fashion supply chain affects people and the Earth. Where and how these people live, how their lives and families are touched by the garment industry and what your purchases – high-street or high-end – signify in reality, can help provide a backdrop to where that top or bag came from and how it ended up on the rack. Not just “how”, not just “where”, but “who”. That’s what we should be asking.
Noorin Khamisani, founder of OUTSIDER, agrees: “Fashion Revolution has created a platform bringing together people from all over the world and creating opportunity for dialogue and encourage transparency. I really hope this will lead to changes to the industry in the long term.”
To prove that ethical supply chains work and can be the future, Atelier Tammam has chosen to show rather than tell: by bringing together these innovative designers, this pop-up beautifully illustrates the sustainable alternative. It’s here, right under your eyes, the fashion you could be wearing instead of that cheap top or expensive handbag, and minimise your impact on our planet and its people and animals. No excuses: the fashion of the future is here for all to see.
The bottom line is, the more questions we ask about the products we buy, the more ground we pave for more transparency in the supply chain. The obvious solution to the world’s garment problem is to shop less. Make it last, choose things you will love and that will live a long life in your wardrobe (or somebody else’s!). And learn more about the processes of the brands you shop with. Ask them about their suppliers, about their factories, about the people who work with them. Ask them who made your clothes.