Dressember Day One: Savannah DiMarco (Portland, OR, USA)
Hello, friends! Thank you so much for visiting our PNW Dressember page. I’m genuinely grateful that you’ve taken the time to read a bit of our story and the heart behind the campaign.
If you scroll down to the previous post below and/or visit our ‘About’ page, you can find out more about the Dressember campaign, fundraiser, and our team’s passion.
Each forthcoming post (beginning with this one) will come from one of our team members: a comment, memoir, artistic piece, essay, etc. that illuminates that team member’s reasons for committing to wearing a dress every day during the month of December.
This is my second year participating in Dressember. Although I cannot forget the wondrous feeling of donning a pair of dungarees after a month spent in drop-waist, shift, and a-line dresses (and staunchly refusing to wear pair of tights again until February or March), I also cannot forget the value in acknowledging oppression and slavery every single morning whilst putting on my jumper, tights, boots, and dress.
Oppression and slavery take many forms, including but not limited to debt bondage, coerced sex work (pornography and prostitution), domestic abuse, sexual abuse, involuntary servitude, unsafe working conditions, child labor, child soldiery, and child marriage. Women and girls are often most impacted by the aforementioned horrors. The Dressember Campaign was born to advocate for these brave girls and women who live their own nightmares day-after-day.
Since taking part in last year’s Dressember Campaign, I have learned much more about the complex systematic injustices that allow for global oppression and slavery’s expansion. I’d like to devote this blog to one of many injustices (and I do believe that other Dressember team members will cover many of the others in days to come) that demand our immediate attention: slave and child labor in the fashion industry.
I highly encourage reading up on this topic, and can recommend the following resources for a start:
- Project Just: A newly-launched, research-based web platform that provides information about leading brands’ sources, methods of production, labor codes, steps toward ethics and sustainability, and more. Brands that meet very high ethical and environmental standards are noted #JUSTAPPROVED.
- Ethical Fashion Forum ‘Introduction to Fashion’s Key Social Issues’: A London-based organization that exists primarily to educate fashion industry insiders about supplies and ethics publishes the 2016 breakdown on working conditions, forced labor, wages, and more.
- Fair Trade USA (Clothing & Apparel): An organization that certifies and promotes brands that can demonstrate that all aspects of their sourcing and production is ethical and free from slave labor.
- Anti-Slavery International ‘Slavery in Global Supply Chains’: British NGO Anti Slavery gives a brief rundown on the reasons that a t shirt or pair of jeans might have been created with slave labor. Peruse the website for other aritcles on the topic, such as on Uzbekistan’s cotton industry.
- US Department of Labor: The US DOL provides two reports on Child and Forced Labor worldwide.
In a 2011 interview, British actress Emma Watson was asked about her firsthand experience with a fair trade organization’s methods; having witnessed both fair trade production and standard garment production in Bangladesh. Though five years old, the issues the interview covers have persisted in recent years. When prompted to speak to the reason for purchasing ethical handmade apparel, Emma replied as follows:
‘Because I went to the slums…and I saw what the conditions are like for the people who work in these factories and by this different model…and it’s just horrible. It’s just the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen. I just don’t think that’s a sustainable business model or a way to carry on working with the developing world. That income, to make these garments…. is just huge…it’s 70-80 percent of what the country earns.’
Today Emma has become a supporter of ethically-minded brands such as Zady, People Tree, and Nisolo, all of which closely monitor their production and do not produce items that do not benefit the members of their supply chain(s).
This, I believe, is precisely the point. It is my prayer and it is among my chief life goals: that the fashion industry would not only move away from worker exploitation, abuse, unsafe working conditions, harassment, oppression, slavery, and child labor—but that encouragement, empowerment, and positive change would become the new standard.
When discussing sustainability, Studio 7.5 in Berlin (a German chair design company) replied: ‘The environmental aspect is inherent. We don’t discuss it anymore. It’s part of our job.’ In the same way, creating and purchasing garments that are not only free from oppression and slavery but are also actively benefiting supply chain contributors and their communities is our responsibility as shoppers, business owners, designers, students, bloggers, and advocates. It is inherent. It’s our job.
Jesus cares deeply for all people. His heart cry is for all people to be free from oppression and slavery. As I wear a dress everyday this month, my hope is in a God who can inspire, mobilize, and equip our generation to take a stand for freedom in the fashion industry.
There is very much work to be done, yet we can take heart. Love is on the move.
Thanks for reading, friends! Please feel free to contact me with any and all questions, comments, etc.
So much love,
To donate to our team page to support IJM and A21, two organizations fighting against slavery and injustice everyday, please click here.