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"Some things remain better hidden. The factories where our clothes are made isn’t one of them."

Simone O’Connor

By SIMONE O’CONNOR

Miley Cyrus. That snapchat. Photos from your parent’s recent trip to Bali.

Some things remain better hidden. The factories where our clothes are made isn’t one of them.

As part of their Ethical Fashion Season 3things, an initiative of Oxfam Australia, recently released #hidden – a campaign that calls on labels and brands to fess up and release the location of their clothing factories. Our tags may read ‘Made in Bangladesh’ but that’s about all the information we are being given, and that’s not okay.

It’s been over 20 years since we first started using the lingo ‘sweatshop’ and the truth is that we’ve known for a while that these types of working environments exist. We know that workers, mostly women, are being exploited in the making of our clothes. And although companies say they conduct regular audits these remain confidential, making it impossible for us to know if safety issues are being adequately addressed. Rana Plaza had been inspected and deemed safe 3 times before the factory collapse in 2013. And while some big wigs like K-Mart have jumped on-board the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord there is still a long way to go in turning fast and disposable fashion on its head.

Despite funding cuts to Ethical Clothing Australia, and some stores releasing 65 new styles per week April has been a huge month for ethical and sustainable fashion in Australia. Sydney hosted Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Cleancut held MBFW’s first ‘green runway’ and fashion revolution had people in over 55 countries turning #insideout to commemorate the anniversary of Rana Plaza. Things tides are a changing and we need to support these movements to ensure ethical fashion doesn’t become just another fad.

So what would it really take to transform the fashion industry? Is it even possible?

The 3things ethical fashion breakfast panel.

Well, according to the panellists at the 3things Cheap and Dirty Breakfast, that change is possible, and it needs to be driven from the inside out.

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Ethical fashion is no longer all hemp and hippie pants; in fact there are some incredible ethical designers creating clothing that doesn’t compromise at all on style and affordability. As Liza Heinze, author of Sustainability with Style says ‘you can still have your love of fashion, and strong ethics, and that’s really what this industry needs to move things forward.’

David Nishan, co-founder of Bloodless, is using fashion as’ everyday conversation starter, as a tool to spread messages that matter’ and he is right on the money. We can use fashion to raise a whole bunch of issues; from Ollie Henderson’s #starttheriot to Fashion Revolutions #insideout fashion has shown be a powerful force for change and awareness. We all wear clothes, right, so the conversation is all of ours to shape.

So check out our Cheap and Dirty video and see what happened when 3things brought together 60 designers, bloggers, instagrammers and artists to talk about using their place within the industry to push ethics and sustainability forward into mainstream fashion.  Let’s keep the momentum of the past month going, challenge our favorite brands to become more ethical and make sure this trend becomes part of our everyday culture.

P.S If you jump on Facebook and take the 3things  #hidden action in the next two weeks you go into the draw to win a $500 voucher from Cue Clothing – they’re 100% ethical. We promise!

Simone O’Connor works with young people all around Australia to develop their skills, confidence and ability to tackle some of the world’s most important (and sometimes overwhelming) issues. She’s inspired by the innovation and creativity of Australian youth and she wants to see a world where young people are at the core of the decision making processes that affect them.  

Whether you’ve got 3 minutes, 3 days or more you can change the world, 3things at a time. If you’re interested in fashion, the environment, politics or technology 3things empowers you to be part of the movement for global change, in whatever way is meaningful to you. We hold workshop, events and provide relevant opportunities for young people to do stuff that matters. If you don’t know where to start head to 3things.org.au and find out what 3things you can do to change the world.

Do you think about where your clothes were produced when you go shopping?

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