The people who make our clothes have become invisible. We don’t know who they are. We don’t see them. And just like that….BOOM!….we don’t think about them. They just aren’t up there in our long list of important stuff. We have other things to think about.
Consider everything you know about the industrial revolution in Victorian England: dangerous factories, workers forced to live in slums, abject poverty, abnormally low mortality rates, high levels of pollution. Those same conditions are now being experienced by an increasing number of countries throughout the world as retailers switch from buying products at fair prices to demanding cheaper products so they can make bigger profits or under-price to attract more customers. With each lower price poverty levels and the working conditions of the people who make our clothes deteriorate yet further.
Most clothes sold on the High Street and online share these features:
- made in a sweatshop and/or by trafficked slaves (usually female, often a child)
- made in unsafe working conditions
- pollute local drinking water
- cause cancerous smog
- end up in landfill
There are other issues that affect those in the west too: undersized and underage fashion models, model abuse, design theft, manipulative marketing, pollution caused by high volumes of clothing in landfill, and many more. Unfortunately the fashion industry has allowed itself to become mired in so many damaging practices that it will take years, possibly decades, to sort itself out.
Tracey Dockree is a Fashion Designer, author, activist and prize-winning poet.
She is passionate about raising awareness of the abuses behind the glamour of the fashion industry and the steps that can be taken to redress them. She supports projects that empower those who have been or are at risk of becoming abused by fashion industry malpractices, especially trafficking and pollution. She founded the ETHICAL REBEL – a movement of people rebelling against a fashion industry producing cheap and low quality ‘rags’ with no respect for their customers, the workers in their supply chain or the environment.
She created the Ethical Rebel magazine and ethical fashion directory to showcase the fantastic range of ethical fashion brands available so you can choose the fashions that express your own personal style with a clear conscience.
Tracey is also passionate about empowering those who have no voice, especially the homeless and victims of trafficking. Her graduate collection was inspired by a desire to create beautiful and desirable garments from a pile of old, unwanted socks, showing how the least of things can be transformed into something special. In the same way, many people who are written off, and even write themselves off, can be transformed and empowered to live a fulfilling and purposeful life. Her graduate collection Parade of Giants was cited as a benchmark for future fashion students and was selected to be shown in the Zeitgeist Show at Brighton Fashion Week.
Tracey’s designs range from artistic/costume hybrids that make a statement to stylish, comfortable garments that can be worn anywhere. Her ideas are always unique and always have a story. Her passion is to create stories that come to life when they are worn and for a community of story lovers to share a part of the story wherever they wear it.
She is currently combining her talents to create Timeline 67: A Story in T-Shirts – a series of illustrated t-shirts that when read in sequence reveal a story (like a comic or graphic novel but the t-shirts are the pages). Each t-shirt also has a sub-text story that is inspired by the giant issues we are currently facing in our society – trafficking, homelessness and the refugee crisis.