(25) Fashion & Research, part 2: the Industry.

:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIW_Ah0wg-w

“Some day, when I’m awfully low and the world is cold. I will feel a glow, just thinking of you, and the way you look tonight….”, Frank Sinatra.

Going that extra mile for that beautiful dress, that good quality shirt or those cool pair of jeans is not unfamiliar to probably most of us. “Dress to impress”… This is the Research in Fashion month on Researchista and I want to invite you to a journey of self-discovery and reflection on how we ended up feeding a badly functioning mechanism of clothing machine and how can we change this machinery with our very own hands. Let us have an honest talk about how in our very particular, at first sight, impossible way can change the way some things work fashion industry. Our mentor in this area Hasmik Matevosyan, will think along from an documented point of view and present her arguments. She has done a lot of Research on this topic. 

Ok, I have to confess… First time when I went together with my sister to “Primark”, we went wild. We were in Dublin, it was summer, I was in my second year of PhD and things were going brightly. We bought all sorts of summer clothes, especially we were getting ready to go to The Galway Race.

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Little we knew what was Primark back then, we are from Moldova, our big clothing chains are underdeveloped (now I think is maybe for the best). We do not have Primark, H&M or Mango, unless you go to Bucharest or Odessa. We buy locally produced clothes or those imported clothes from Turkey or outlets of big stores.

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The times passed by and I watched randomly all sort of movies about fashion industry on internet, but it never really made me aware of my own behaviour towards clothes. I really pity the people that died in Bangladesh and that work so very hard to make these clothes for cheaper price, tagged “Made in Bangladesh”, “Made in Romania”, “Made in China”, but the reality is that…

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Photo: A.M. Ahad.

… although much less, I still go to these chain shops… Last time I went to Primark was last year, when I redecorated my place and was looking for a blanket for my colour in a special colour and it was really a coincidence that I ended up Primark in Liege, recalling my Dublin experience. This time, I was an informed customer… and I still bought it. I still made that purchase because it was exactly what I was looking for, at a price that was incomparable on the market (very cheap).

low price – new things = high temptation to buy

So, what to do? I don’t want to ruin people’s life and the planet by buying a new dress that I love.

What is the alternative? In which shops is safe to buy and which ones do not respect human rights at work? Is it all clothing bad to buy? What to do…

I know I am not in this alone.

So, I wonder what does Hasmik thinks about it. She knows a lot about fashion industry, she wrote her master’s thesis about it. She must know what can we do as customers to fight for fair treatment of all people at work and to avoid pollution.

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Hasmik Matevosyan, fashion industry expert

Hasmik: The fashion industry today is the second biggest environmentally polluting industry in the world. Millions of production workers are forced to work in inhumane conditions and barely make enough money for a living. Clothes in the shops are of a lower quality then they used to be, but also much cheaper. Clothes get worn off faster, the prices are getting lower and new items keep arriving to the shops in a rapid speed. The consumption speed goes up with it, just as the amount of clothes thrown away every year. On the positive side many fashion designers and brands are researching and applying sustainability and innovation in their practices. There are even several initiatives applying business models where clothes can be leased or borrowed and some fashion brands co-design with their customers.

“During the first year of my fashion education I found out about the downside of the fashion industry and decided that I did not want to contribute to so much negativity, but rather would start searching for a solution. I set as a goal that I want to achieve a fashion industry where clothes are designed to meet your desires and needs and give you a sense of confidence and comfort, where the production of clothes improves lives, where clothes are affordable to everyone and where fashion brands make profit that helps them grow and improve lives and the environment through the work that they do”. 

Here, Hasmik is sharing her solution at TEDxMaastricht, but since many of us were not there, next week we will discuss this idea in details. It is one of the concrete, practical, mediatized solutions I heard as an alternative to how things work today.

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TEDxMaastricht

Unfortunately, just like in other areas, when it comes to buying clothes we let ourselves trapped in compulsory consumption....

There is plenty of time till next Monday, when Hasmik will share her ideas…plenty to reflect on your consumption behaviour. Do you wear all clothes you buy? Have you already by the way, sorted your wardrobe out of things you don’t wear anymore? This is a self-discovery and self-reflection trip, enjoy!

With love for Research,

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