Fashion Revolution Week | Who Made My Clothes

It’s Fashion Revolution Week! Or if you’re reading this after the 24th April, we’ve just had Fashion Revolution Week. But that doesn’t mean it’s over. We can bring the Fashion Revolution every day.

This year, 2022, Fashion Revolution Week ran from 18-24th April. The week always falls around the 24th April; this was the date the Rana Plaza disaster happened in Savar, Bangladesh in 2013.

Over 1100 people lost their lives when the Rana Plaza building collapsed. A further 2500 were injured. Most of these were women. The Rana Plaza housed many garment factories where some of the most well known high street brands had their production made.

They were making our clothes. The building was not safe.

Fashion supply chains significantly lacked transparency, with much outsourcing happening, many of the brands did not know their clothes were even being made in such an unsafe building. Significant cracks were visible and workers were afraid to go to work there.

But transparency still has a long way to go, and even with transparency, there are still too many being paid unfair, unliveable wages, too many suffering abuse and harassment, and poor environmental surroundings.

Ethics must come first. Without being ethical, no brand can be sustainable.

Fashion Revolution Week calls for action and change, for a more equitable fashion system. Let's all be that change.

The garment professionals that make our clothes are part of the story at Saywood. We are so proud to work with our partners, who, just like us, are committed to change and a better, more sustainable and equitable future for fashion. 

So in honour of Fashion Revolution Week, meet some of these people that are at the heart of Saywood.

I’d like to introduce you to some of the wonderful people that make some of the fabrics used at Saywood, from Italian mill Canclini. Canclini make the recycled cotton used for our pale blue Edi Shirt and the cotton/ bamboo viscose of the white Edi Shirt, as well as the Japanese denim we use, in partnership with the craftsman in Ibara, Okayama, Japan, where the denim is woven.

Fabric maker and warper, Guilia, stands in front of a fabric machine in the fabric mill, Canclini in Italy, wearing a blue coat, holding a sign saying 'I made your fabric'.

🌸 First meet Giulia, a beautiful woman that works in Canclini, dedicated to the warping process. She loves supporting the development and construction of Canclini’s fabric structure for quality long lasting fabrics.

 Fabric maker and weaver, Susanna, stands in front of a weaving machine in the fabric mill, Canclini in Italy, wearing a blue coat, holding a sign saying 'I made your fabric'.

🌸 Meet the lovely Susanna who works in Canclini's weaving mill. She loves her job, bringing professional knowledge and experiences to all the production process.

Fabric maker and quality control specialist, Daneilla, stands in front of a fabric machine in the fabric mill, Canclini in Italy, wearing a white coat, holding a sign saying 'I made your fabric'.

🌸 Finally meet the super Daniela, who works at Canclini as quality control specialist and expert, an important final step in the production of Canclini’s cloth. She loves supporting the whole team with knowledge and experiences in fabrics’ structure and finishing, able to detect any kind of textile defects.

Canclini are based in Como, Italy, and have made sustainability a strong focus of the way they produce. All of their virgin cotton is Supima cotton; grown and cultivated only in the USA by a small group of family run farms, who use satellite technology to monitor and promote soil health, with high social and ethical standards. Canclini’s recycled yarns and cloths are GRS certified (Global Recycling Standard), and they have their own photovoltaic farm to power the mill using renewable energy, with any surplus energy produced from their solar farm being fed back into the grid. They even have technological dying machines that save up to 70% of energy and water compared to conventional dye machines. Making cloth whilst being mindful of the planet.

Image shows fabric mill Canclini, in Italy, and their photovoltaic park, or solar panels, on the roof of their building. These panels provide the energy to power their mill entirely from renewable energy.

Canclini's photovoltaic park, or solar panels, on the roof of their building. These panels provide the energy to power their mill entirely from renewable energy.

And once we have the fabric, who make these beautiful pieces?

Image shows a woman and garment worker standing, smiling, and holding a sign with the text 'I made your clothes' for Fashion Revolution Week. This is Viola, a presser from Saywood's ethical London manufacturer, Apparel Tasker.

Meet Viola. Viola is a presser Apparel Tasker, the London factory we work with just down the road from the Saywood studio. She also likes multitasking and helping in different departments in the manufacturing process, such as hand stitching, button attachment, cleaning, packing, stitching when needed.

When asked what she loves about her job: 'I love working in London as it's the fashion capital and there are so many opportunities, varieties of products I can work on and it's extremely creative.'

Of the challenges she faces, Viola says it is keeping her mind in a creative space and keeping up with the constant change of fashion and developing her creative skills.

Apparel Tasker is an ethical manufacturer in London and SMETA certified. They take a deep interest in being as sustainable as possible and are doing some amazing things to be environmentally friendly: They are zero waste - any factory floor offcuts are collected for reuse, as mattress padding or bio fuel. All their machinery is low energy, reducing their energy consumption by 80%, as well as LED low energy lighting, and their packing is from recycled and recyclable, or biodegradable.

Apparel Tasker pays well above the living wage - remember, garment construction is a highly skilled job, and they just opened a cafe full of freshly cooked meals, to serve their workers and the surrounding businesses.

As well as London, Saywood shirts are also made at Mantra in Romania.

Meet Mirela, a machinist from Mantra. 

Image shows a garment factory room with a female sewing machinist sitting at her machine holding a sign with the text 'I made your clothes' for Fashion Revolution Week

Asked what part of her job she enjoys the most: 'When I see the finished product almost ready and I am so happy with it.' Mirela said her biggest challenge at work was 'adjusting to my new job, as I was trained differently at my old job. We put up the barriers, but nothing is insurmountable if we want.' (Love this!) 'I like challenges, I am ambitious and a perfectionist.' Mirela.

Mantra is also SMETA certified and have high standards on workers rights, the working environment and health and safety. They pay well above living wage - as highlighted before, garment making, sewing, pattern cutting and construction is highly skilled. No matter where the supplier is based, minimum wage is not enough. The living wage must be met, and beyond. Workers must be properly remunerated for their work and their skills.

I am proud to work with Mantra, as not only are they ethical in their practice, but they are also driving change when it comes to the environment and striving to be more eco-friendly throughout their business. They are hoping to install their own photovoltaic (solar) plant on the roof of their factory, as well as converting all their packaging and trimmings (such as fusibles and liners) to recycled, biodegradable or more eco-friendly options.

It takes a whole team to create cloth, to create garments, to create fashion and the clothes that we wear. And a huge amount of skill.

This Fashion Revolution Week be part of change calling for a better, more equitable future for people and planet.

You have a powerful voice. What can you do to get involved?

Follow Fashion Revolution on Instagram @fash_rev to stay up to date with #FashionRevolutionWeek and if you would like to read more, take action, or download resources, you can head straight to Fashion Revolution’s website here.

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