She volunteers at Oxfam Australia and is passionate about human rights, as well as making sure the women who make our clothes have a voice and are treated fairly.
Something that at Lois Hazel we are pretty passionate about as well. So when Teresa got in touch to tell us about Oxfam's 'What She Makes' campaign, we were very interested.
She's told us why this campaign is so important to her, and also given us a rundown about what the project is all about.
I recently started volunteering at Oxfam Australia, I’m passionate about human rights and the work that Oxfam does strongly resonates with my principles. My role at Oxfam is to engage civil society and businesses to support the What She Makes campaign.
I think this campaign is really important because as a society in the developed world we cannot condone the corporate exploitation that keeps women in poverty, we must do the right thing. We have to stand in solidarity with the women who make our clothes that are being paid poverty wages and demand that big Australian brands pay living wages.
Being a fashion-enthusiast What She Makes is of particular interest to me. When you realise the negative impact that your purchases may have in the lives of women, you have to stop and re-think your consuming habits. We care about recycling and the environment but we do not always think about the people who make the stuff we buy, like clothes. And that is exactly what this campaign has made me reflect on a deeper level. I love clothes but I also care about other women and their families and I want to make sure they get paid a living wage.
Through working on this campaign I have become more conscious about the way I shop. I now ask myself many questions before doing an impulsive purchase such as: Will it last for years? Is it made ethically? Will I be able to mix it with my other clothes? I want to buy less, support brands that pay living wages to their workers and recycle clothes trough op-shop purchases. It is a process that involves changing ones consumerist behaviour that has been deeply ingrained in the way we live. It may be a slow process but I think the goal is achievable.
W H A T S H E M A K E S
What She Makes comes at a time when fast fashion has utterly changed the industry. With new trends coming out every week, the fast fashion industry urges consumers to buy as many garments as possible, as quickly as possible. The constant inflow of low-cost, low-quality garments means we are buying and disposing of more clothing than ever. This has a real effect on the women working in the ready-made garment industry, with huge pressure to deliver on orders.
The unfair treatment of workers in clothing company factories is an issue of significant public interest. Since the collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013, media and public interest has been high. The shocking loss of life and the ongoing work to improve safety, transparency, conditions and wages continues. A worldwide movement is growing to demand living wages.
Tackling poverty in the fashion industry.
The women who make our clothes do not make enough to live on – keeping them in poverty. Despite long hours away from their families, working full time plus hours of overtime, big brands do not pay them enough money to cover the basics of life, such as food, housing and healthcare. Women like Fatima in Bangladesh often live in appalling conditions. She can’t afford a mattress, sleeping instead on the concrete floor of a tiny two-room apartment shared with 10 people.
Australian clothing brands like Big W and Cotton On are part of the system that has created this injustice. Research shows that right now, just 40 cents of the price of a $10 t-shirt goes towards the wages of workers like Fatima who made the t-shirt. It will cost less than 1% of the retail price – that’s less than 10 cents for a $10 t-shirt – for big brands do the right thing and pay living wages to the women who make our clothes.
It is now time for brands to publicly commit to paying living wages and we ask the brands to develop credible, transparent, time-bound plans to map out how they will achieve this goal.
A living wage is not a luxury or a privilege; it is a universal human right — for every working person around the world, including the women who make our clothes.
We all buy clothes and so we stand together with the women who make our clothes demanding to know #whatshemakes.
Click on the link to find out how to support the campaign: http://whatshemakes.oxfam.org.au/
We have also made some limited edition tote bags out of left over fabric from our Transverse Coat and Skirt, and will be donating 30% of their profits towards the campaign. You can see them here