23-29 April is Fashion Revolution Week. The Fashion Revolution is a global movement that encourages everyone to be curious about the clothes we wear and ask our favourite brands “who made my clothes?”
”On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. 1,138 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. That’s when Fashion Revolution was born. There were five garment factories in Rana Plaza all manufacturing clothing for the western market.
Since then, people from all over the world have come together to use the power of fashion to change the world.” –Fashion Revolution
Fashion Revolution aims to celebrate fashion as a positive force, raise awareness about the issues in the industry and inspire positive action.
What can we do?
As makers, we also have the power to inspire change and take steps to be more conscious.
-Try creative mending techniques that draw attention to the flaws, making your garment more interesting and unique.
-Take care of the clothes you already own and be conscious when buying (or making) more clothes, think about how many times you are likely to wear them and how they are produced.
-Use up your fabric stash before buying more.
-Look for sustainably produced fabrics.
-Recycle or use second hand fabrics in your projects.
-And my favourite: Refashion, reuse and repurpose. Have a look at the clothes you (or your friends) no longer wear and see how you can or turn them into something new rather than throwing away.
This year I am taking part in the Fashion Revolution with a DIY Haulternative.
A haulternative is a way of refreshing one’s closet without buying more clothes (an alternative to a clothing haul.) I have done a few projects like this in previous blog posts.
I am going to refashion a “kurta” that my boyfriend received as a gift upon leaving India (after working there for 6 months.)
A Kurta is a collarless shirt traditionally worn by men in the Indian sub-continent. It is usually a straight-cut, loose fitting shirt that falls just above or below one’s knees.
While a thoughtful gift, this shirt is not a style that he wears and rather than letting it go to waste, he passed it on to me knowing I could extend its life in an interesting way.
Unfortunately this garment doesn’t have any brand label so it really is a question of “who made my clothes?”
I started by unpicking the sleeves and side seams.
Then I reshaped the armhole and trimmed a bit off at the side seams.
Before overlocking with the 3-thread stitch, I pinned the sleeves to the armholes.
I then overlocked the under seam and a bit of the side seams.
For an interesting effect, I cut the front short and took a bit off the back.
Then I sewed the hems with a basic rolled hem technique.
I finished the side seams slits, continuing with the basic rolled hem.
I would recommend using rolled hemmer foot #62 or #68 for a professional looking rolled hem.
Using the off cuts, I cut two ties.
I secured the ties onto the sleeves for an interesting effect.
How interesting are these buttons?
They are not sewn on to the fabric, but rather sit in button holes like cufflinks.
These metal “buttons” are usually found on formal kurtas.
While I understand that the Rana Plaza disaster occurred in Bangladesh and this Kurta is from India, both countries are among the world’s top 4 largest manufacturers of clothing (including China & Vietnam.) These countries are in constant competition to produce the cheapest garments which can lead to cost cutting, unfair treatment of workers and factory disasters such as the Rana Plaza.
I refashioned this garment as a reminder of those who suffer unnecessarily for fast fashion.
I may never know who originally made this garment, but I can only hope that they are safe and well looked after.
Whenever I refashion, I always hope that the original maker would be happy with how I built upon their hard work.