This week is Fashion Revolution week, a campaign that began after the Rana Plaza factory building collapsed in 2013 killing over 1000 people. Their ‘Who Made My Clothes?’ campaign is all about bringing transparency into our understanding of what we buy and wear, and telling the story of people who are making our clothes.
This is a topic close to Asquith’s heart, as we have always promised ‘people before profit’. We ethically produce our clothes in Europe, where the 50-strong team work in a wonderful factory, (complete with roof terrace where they grow their own herbs for cooking in their canteen!) work 9-5 hours and have paid holiday.
We talked to Amisha Ghadiali, yoga teacher, ethical jewellery designer and writer and speaker on all aspects of conscious and sustainable living to find out more…
I studied politics at university and worked in parliament and in international development. I became interested in how the fashion industry was something that included everything; international trade, women’s issues, sustainability, agriculture, manufacture, consumerism, identity, design, media… It became a way of connecting all the dots of the world we live in through the journey of something that we all have in our lives, something that we literally wear on our skin.
I started my jewellery label ten years ago and I set it up with ethics in mind, although there weren’t many resources at that time. A couple of years later I began working for the Ethical Fashion Forum, who were bringing brands and people together that were working in this way. It’s been amazing to watch how this movement has developed.
As Yogis one of our principles is Ahimsa, to cause no injury, to do no harm. So what we wear when we practice and teach yoga matters. We can really wear our values and empower ourselves and the people who make our clothes this way. I love practicing in organic cotton – as I am opening up on the mat, I don’t want nasty chemicals on my skin. I don’t want to have contributed to any exploitation and destruction. As a teacher, for me it’s really important to live my yoga off the mat. I got into yoga to work on myself and become healthier and happier so I could have more energy for making the world a better place. I started a project that became the book The Future Is Beautiful, it has over 200 contributors and asks the question “how can we create the future that we choose for the world.” I believe we all have a part to play in how the future of our world plays out. We might as well use all our special yogi powers to create something beautiful!
There are so many reasons… The fashion industry employs one sixth of the world’s population and many of them are working in unfair, dangerous and toxic conditions without stable pay. It’s an industry built on exploitation, from the farmers forced to use pesticides which cause harm to the earth, to the young girls raped in the spinning mills, to the toxic dyes polluting rivers, to the women forced to work long hours and eat contraceptives in sweat shops. The list goes on… But we can change these stories, by buying less, choosing wisely and demanding things to be made in an ethical and green way.
Fashion Revolution is a campaign that was started after the Rana Plaza factory building collapse in 2013, which killed over 1000 people and it was the first time that an incident like this got so much media attention. The campaign brought different people from within the movement together to come up with a way to literally power the fashion revolution. The main way you can get involved is by taking a picture of your clothing label, and asking the brands on social media – Who Made My Clothes? It’s about bringing transparency into our understanding of what we buy and wear, and bringing out the story of the actual humans that are making our clothes. It’s about us taking responsibility to change the way our clothes are made. This year it’s a whole week, this week, 18th-24th April.
Tell the story. Everything has a story and it’s amazing to hear who and what was involved in the process of how something came to be. It brings meaning to the piece of clothing. Then it’s no longer just a t-shirt, or a just a pair of leggings. It’s something precious.
There are certifications to look out for. But the best and easiest way is to ask… Sometimes a brand won’t know the answer, and if they don’t, it’s great because you are prompting them to find out!
There is more to this than simply what we buy, it’s also about what we do with the things that we no longer want. I have outlined twelve ways that we can make a difference in my Rules to Dress By, it’s a free guide that you can download and has a wardrobe shopping checklist to help you notice what comes in and out.
For yoga, Asquith! And Synergy (based in the states). For off the mat, I love People Tree, Mayamiko, Everlane and Outsider.
I am working on a new book that actually brings together sustainable style and yoga philosophy. I will be sharing more about that soon. I am teaching more workshops in London and have some great retreats coming up. A week in a forest in Portugal at the end of June, a week on a stunning Greek island at the beginning of September and more in India this winter.
Amisha is seen here wearing Asquith’s Go To Vest in Azure and with a Thunder Grey feather print, the Zip It Sweatshirt and Yoga Denim.