Cast your minds way back to last Autumn, to a London Fashion Week held in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh and the Craftivist Collective and War On Want’s highly inspiring Mini Fashion Protest campaign.
Heavily pregnant and armed with my hand stitched mini protest banners, I headed to Reading’s bustling Oracle shopping centre, in the hope that my tiny embroidered words might make someone think twice about where the clothes they are buying might be coming from and who might be making them.
This banner reads “Please show respect to the women who make your clothes. Let’s pay a living wage to all garment workers“.
“Exploitation: It’s not okay here, it’s not okay anywhere” This one was stitched not only in solidarity for those exploited abroad, but also in solidarity for many British retail workers who are paid minimum wage (not a ‘living’ wage) and have unfair working contracts.
One thing I have learnt about display mini protest banners is that it is hard to feel inconspicuous when putting them up there. My heart always pounds, my hands feel a little clammy. Add to the mix being eight and a half months pregnant (and unwisely wearing bright pink and red stripes) and these feelings double. Triple even.
But I really believed in this campaign and believe in conscious consumption, safe working conditions, fair wages, human rights and thinking about the environmental impacts of our consumer choices and we’ve not even touched on the emotive issues around child labour yet.
Maybe someone saw my stitched words by the Oracle riverside and briefly thought about some of those issues? Someone definitely saw them, as nearly five months later the cable ties holding my ‘exploitation’ banner to the bridge are still there.