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Rethinking fashion

Rethinking fashion

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Published by freedomclothing
The first discussion document from Freedom Clothing Project, the fashion think-and-do tank.
The first discussion document from Freedom Clothing Project, the fashion think-and-do tank.

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Published by: freedomclothing on Feb 13, 2009
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03/03/2011

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Rethinking Fashion
as if people and the planet actuallymatter 
 A discussion paper released by
Freedom Clothing Project, 
the fashion think-and-do tank 
Joe Turner, MSc BSc (Hons)Director, Freedom Clothing Project LtdCoventry, UKhttp://www.freedomclothingproject.orgFebruary 2009
 
Foreword
by John-Paul Flintoff
'I've been incredibly impressed by the practical work of the Freedom Clothing Project, andits clear-sighted analysis of the problems associated with the global trade in clothing. TheBritish public has (largely) woken up to the importance of local food, and this report mayfinally help to show that locally sourced clothing is no less important - not only for the UKbut for people everywhere.'
John-Paul Flintoff, The Sunday Times 
Acknowledgements
This report has been prepared by Freedom Clothing Project Ltd, a non-profit co-operative.No payment has been offered or received to write it and the work has been entirely fundedby Freedom Clothing Project Ltd.No criticism of individuals nor endorsement of organisations referenced should beassumed. We encourage others to contact us regarding the argument made here and to join the struggle to build a more sustainable clothing industry. Finally, we acknowledge the encouragement of John-Paul Flintoff to complete this report,and the communities we have talked with, visited and worked with in Palestine, Egypt,India and the UK who have shaped our ideas.We accept the responsibility for factual errors and strongly advise readers to follow linksand check our sources for themselves.
 
Introduction
For many years, the global textile industry has been an enormous blot on the ethicallandscape. The size and scale of it is hard for anyone to comprehend. Millions toil makingclothing in unholy conditions for extremely low pay. Many more work the cotton fields,picking and processing the heavily-sprayed cotton crop for a pittance.Once it has been used by our disposable British culture, most of this labour-intensiveproduct is turned into a waste problem in a landfill site. And it is truly a waste – a waste ofmillions of lives, a waste of resources to make and fuel to transport the finished productsaround the world and a toxic waste gift to future generations.In the UK, much has been made of the Organic and Fairtrade movements, with certainsectors of the textile industry racing to embrace the profits of being 'ethical' and 'green'.Whilst in some ways these are positive developments, in reality it translates into very slightripples in the great ocean which is the global textile industry. However much we might tryto hide from the reality, the system requires a large pool of poorly paid people to produceitems in poor countries to feed our endless appetite for new clothing at prices we canafford. Fairtrade certainly makes a measurable income difference to people in a small partof the supply chain, but can never force meaningful changes to workers throughout thesystem because consumers would never pay for the real costs required. Often a majorpart of the attraction for the large brands is that they can sell the items at a premium whichis out of proportion to the extra production costs involved. It also does nothing to addressthe wanton destructive force of the global textile industry. We fool ourselves into believingthat a few extra pennies to the producer does anything more than paper over the structuralproblems that we would rather not think about.
We have to reinvent the process so it  provides for our clothing needs in asustainable future
At some point we have to rethink fashion. We have to reinvent the process so that itprovides for our clothing needs in a more sustainable future. In this paper, we will arguethat there is an alternative which few have so far examined. We will further argue that theanswers lie in front of us and that the moral imperative is within each of us and not in somedistant forgettable land.

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