Fashionable for a cause

A year ago more than 1000 Bangladeshi garment workers died in a factory fire that shone a spotlight on the fashion industry's reliance on third-world production to create clothes that the makers themselves could never afford to buy.

Working in cramped, unsafe, conditions, for long hours and little pay, these and garment and textile factory workers represent the hidden faces behind the surface gloss and glamour of the fashion world.

Just ahead of World Fair Trade Day, local organisers Antonia Taylor and Gaelle Beech devised Fairly Fashionable?, a challenge for local designers to see if they could create a garment within 14 days using fair trade fabrics sourced from manufacturing hubs such as Bangladesh and Cambodia.

The results will feature in a parade tonight at Fremantle venue MANY 6160.

"Having such a short time to complete their garment represents the challenges faced by producers in an industry increasing under pressure from the demands of fast fashion," Beech said.

"We couldn't have anticipated the level of interest and excitement that our challenge has generated. I think it's testament to a strong desire among designers and consumers to examine the human impact of how garments are produced".

Fairly Fashionable? comes hot on the heels of the inaugural Fashion Revolution Day, where consumers were asked to wear their clothing labels on the outside, drawing attention to where they were made, and by contacting fashion labels to ask questions about the people working behind the scenes.

"There has definitely been an increase in awareness about issues in the fashion supply chain," Beech said.

"When a tipping point in consumer demand for more ethical fashion is reached, we will start to see some real changes for producers in developing countries."

WA designer Jess Priemus, who recently showcased her brand Bhalo at an ethical showcase at Australian Fashion Week in Sydney recently, will talk about the new movement towards sustainability in the fashion industry. Local designers including Isobel Macaulay, Fiona Dixon, and the design duo behind Kate & Abel, will participate.

"Our message to designers and consumers is to consider more carefully the conditions in which your clothes and accessories are made," Beech said. "You can love fashion, be creative, and be ethical at the same time."

Fairly Fashionable is on tonight at MANY6160 in Fremantle. Tickets are $10 from trybooking.com.au or $15 at the door.

The West Australian

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