Karen Lomas
May 3, 2015

Make a Difference in Fashion!

The vexed issue of textile and clothing manufacturing continues to provoke much attention even after decades of noisy advocacy from the likes of Naomi Klein. Klein wrote a great book called No Logo, on the topic, in 1999, exposing the actions of the brand bullies. It is now down to a new generation of savvy consumers and producers of fashion items to Make a Difference in Fashion.

In a recent expose, the question posed to audiences is, “do you know the naked truth about what you’re wearing?” The devastating fire in a Bangladesh factory, where 1,100 fashoin workers were killed, was the impetus behind a report commissioned by Baptist World Aid. In what they have titled Australian Fashion Report the not-for-profit organsation aims to, “shed light on working conditions of the people who make the clothes Australians wear”. It makes interesting listening.

What is gratifying is that some improvements in working conditions have occurred. Indeed some organisations in Australia can be applauded for their conscientious approach to fair treatment of workers. For example, “H&M and Inditex, the two biggest fashion retailers in the world, were among the highest rated international brands, and have taken major steps to ensuring their workers are paid a living wage”.

So the challenge is around how continue to make a difference in fashion. Firstly, consumers need to be aware of the track record of retailers when making their decision over where to shop. Significantly, it is also for enterprising young designers, entering into manufacturing of goods, including apparel and fashion accessories, to help invigorate the discussion and affect further change.

 A great way to start is by using social media to generate a feel-good vibe around your own home-grown creations, and thereby make a difference in the industry you work within?


  • writing a blog about the benefits of buying local
  •  Instagram your “Made in Australia” labels and pics of your stall at a local market
  • drawing attention to the sourcing of fabrics from ethical suppliers
  • Tweet ‘Make a Difference’

The call to “Make a Difference” brings to mind a lecture I heard by Professor of Career Development, Tony Watts, who quoted Socrates in his lecture of Dec 18th last year, stating that it is by being:

the best that one can be, through putting one’s talents at the service of the community, that one attains virtue

and referencing Carl Marx:

the chief guide which must direct us in the choice of a profession is…the welfare of others

 I am hopeful that the Australian Fashion Report will receive due coverage in the media beyond this radio feature and serve to inspire young designers to think carefully about how they source their fabrics and the lives of those they employ, directly or indirectly, to construct their fashion items. It feels good to make a difference 🙂



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