Have you ever asked yourself, “Who makes my clothes?” Have you ever considered reaching beyond the enigmatic, barely noticeable “Made in _____” label at the back of your neck to find out the who, where, and what of your favourite outfit?
As visitors entered RE FORM in the Beacon Bar last Friday, they were confronted with text-heavy flyers and posters on the walls. One of them – and perhaps the most thought-provoking – read, “1x US CEO wage = 16,000 Bangladesh workers’ wages.” Organised by Students for Global Health, RE FORM’s aim was to introduce students to forms of ethical fashion. Presenting a combination of ethically sourced and second-hand designs, the event featured a catwalk and an auction.
The most interesting aspect of the show was the obvious extensive research that went into finding sustainable fashion projects – each poster featured innovative and exciting opportunities for visitors to engage with RE FORM’s ideas. For instance, the proceeds from the auction went directly to Fashion Revolution, a movement promoting “transparency, sustainability an ethics in the fashion industry.” According to their mission statement they are working on uniting people to revolutionise all aspects of fashion, from sourcing through producing to consuming, transforming the road from the farmer to the consumer. For producers interested in getting involved, Fashion Revolution Week presents an opportunity to exchange information between brands and consumers on social media with the hashtags #whomademyclothes and #imadeyourclothes. FRW (23-29th April) is a commemoration of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka on 24 April 2013, which killed 1138 people. Other projects promoted at the show were Noctu, nightwear made of organic fabrics, Elizabeth Suzanne, a label fighting against excess to reduce waste, and Komodo, whose alternative material is hemp fabric, sourced from the cannabis sativa plant.
RE FORM has the potential to become something big next year. If Students for Global Health have any plans to expand on their project, it could be up there with high-prestige fashion shows (even if that takes away the charming low-key-feel of their On The Rocks event). The catwalk and the auction felt like an introduction, a preview to something that could be more inclusive to the entire student body at St Andrews – after all, the issues raised concern everyone. For the time being, RE FORM was a small, fun event with plenty of thought-provoking ideas, and I hope similar projects by Students for Global Health gain more recognition next year.