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The power of awareness

By Giulia di Marco, LAPAS intern

The power of awareness

The widespread integration of markets, started in the 80s with the process of globalization, has facilitated the shift of production to countries that had previously been excluded from the world economy. In developing countries, globalization has sometimes led to the creation of new jobs in the export industries, but governments have often maintained low wages and repressed unions in order not to reduce their competitive advantage. In contrast, many developed countries have started subcontracting their production in developing countries by exploiting lower costs due to the almost total absence of institutions and labor and health standards, wages and working hours, restrictions on freedom of association and collective bargaining. Five years ago, on April 22nd, 2013, in Bangladesh in a huge eight-story textile industry, a fire broke out that brought down the entire building, burying about 1138 people.

This event caused a strong impact on the world of fashion and public opinion, which was suddenly forced to deal with the devastating effects generated by this production model and with the shocking lack of laws regulating workplace safety and the minimum standards on the working conditions of the workers in many Third World countries.

So, from that 22nd of April, something started to move: a global movement calling for a fairer, safer, cleaner, more transparent fashion industry was born.

Just in these days the “Fashion Revolution Week” is taking place, a campaign launched by this global movement that shouts “Who made my clothes?” And sends a strong and clear message: the time has come to become aware of the provenance and the way in which the clothes we wear are produced and to act towards a change in the current production and consumption pattern of most of the garments sold and bought in the rich economies of the “North of the world”. It is time to open our eyes to the inhumane working conditions in which millions of workers are forced to work in many third world countries to satisfy a model of greedy and insatiable consumption, the result of the current economic paradigm at the base of the capitalist production model, which revolves around a single mantra: profit at any cost. That April 22nd, 2013, the cost was the life of 1138 people. Awareness is the first step, the second is action.

So many times I have heard the phrase “this is the global production system, it does not change anything if I’m the only one consuming responsibly, my sacrifice will be in vain.” This is the mentality that prevents awareness from turning into action.

As consumers, our questions, our voices, our shopping habits can help us change things for the better. We are the driver of trends, we are voting with our wallet. When we speak, brands listen.