Picture; Tansy Hoskins by Ruby Wright.

Last week I had the pleasure of a chat in London, with the author of ‘Stitched Up – The Anti Capitalist book of Fashion by Tansy Hoskins from Pluto Books.


Tansy articulated the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh killing 1,123 people happened as a consequence of our current capitalist system. Where a single wealthy factory owner can dictate and force young female workers to work in unsafe buildings by threatening the sack or worse. Rana Plaza made clothes for western brands, their labels visible on the ground, intermingled with the rumble and bodies.

What can be done to prevent this happening again in the fashion industry?

Western consumers walk into beautifully presented shops with racks of clothing made in buildings unfit for human habitation. A striking contrast can be made between the image of the branded retail outlets on our high streets and that of the dilapidated sub-contracted invisible factories that make our clothes. Tansy makes the case for a collective ownership, where each factory is owned in part by every participant.

“What if every clothing factory, cotton field, technology developer and the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris were under collective ownership? What if instead of operating to produce profits for the few, they were run for the benefit of humanity and the planet? For Rana Plaza this would have meant that no illegal extra floors would have been built, no workers would have been sent into an unsafe workplace, no hazardous generators would have been installed (as electricity production would also be under collective control) and hours and conditions would be collectively agreed”

What would happen if we were all more involved in how our clothes were made, instead of just shopping for them?
“Imagine how much more we would value and care for our clothes, let alone our world, if we played a meaningful creative role.”

I know from my own personal experience, when you are designing apparel, you then have to decide what fabric you wish to buy and which factories you select to manufacture. How well would you sleep if you knowingly decided upon using a sweatshop?

Can technology help save the unscrupulous practices of the fashion houses? Within ten years many more of us will be able to manufacture our own clothing using 3D Printing. Instead of shopping, you will use software, probably an App on your smart phone, to process your selections regarding fabric, cut, colour, pattern and size. Your design will then be produced by a printing bureau and sent directly to your home.

To make the necessary changes to the fashion industry we need to work together. To build a strong alliance against how the small number of corporations who control the fashion industry operate. When we see ourselves as individuals, with a freedom of choice to buy and consume, we are inadvertently giving away our power, by allowing the corporations to divide and rule over us.

Ending on a more light-hearted note, Tansy asked if all of those trend forecasters who influence the fashion elite, could make ‘yellow’ the next seasonal colour.

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