Brighton-based artist Shelley Morrow has created an incredibly powerful testament to all the garment workers that died in the Rana Plaza collapse in 2014 that will be exhibited at The Fashion Revolution Exhibition on Thursday 28th of April. The piece has been created in the style of a patchwork quilt and has 50 panels. On each panel, 1138 clothing labels have been embroidered with red thread. These act as a symbol for every individual who died during the collapse. The red embroidery thread is representative of the blood that was shed because of our incessant hunger for fast-fashion at the cheapest prices.
‘#WhoMadeMyClothes’ is an incredibly thought provoking piece; not only does it remind people to think about the Rana Plaza collapse – and other disasters that are happening all the time as a result of the lack of regulations in the fashion industry – it also reminds people to take a minute to think of the origin of their clothes in general. In this world of fast fashion and consumption, it is very easy to forget that there was even someone behind the making of that piece of clothing that was purchased for a fiver from a high street store. It’s so easy for us, as western consumers, to remove the product from the producer, and as a result the garment worker becomes a faceless blur.
But this is not how it should be! The time, effort and resources that went into making everything we purchase should add value to the item, and we should all be considering where and by whom are clothing is made!
Outsourcing is a huge issue as it means so many big name brands and corporations let go of responsibility of the manufacturing process. They don’t own the factories and say they are ‘unaware’ of what has been going on, and subsequently they cannot and will not take any of the blame. We need to call them out for this, and promote 100% transparency in all fashion supply chains!
Shelley, who is doing her MA in fine art at Brighton University, started off by asking for people’s unwanted clothes on social media. However, overwhelmed with old clothes, she then changed her tactics to asking people to cut the labels out of their clothes – which in itself became a symbolic process. When I met her at Cafe Plenty in Brighton a few weeks ago, she asked me to bring along some of my clothing labels to add to the quilt and I realised that I was completely unaware of where most of my clothing had initially come from. By undergoing the task of cutting out labels from clothes and asking other people to do the same, Shelley is inadvertently raising awareness, encouraging us all to consider where are clothes were made.
Shelley told me that one thing that’s really resonated with her throughout the process of making the quilt was that is was so time consuming and draining. The labor involved really hammered home to her that this is what the garment workers behind the labels go through everyday to make our ‘disposable’ fashion.
One of Shelley’s big goals is that she wants to promote embroidery as a skilled art form. Embroidery should be valued as a technical skill and artisinal practice in it’s own right. However, it has traditionally been dismissed as ‘women’s work’, and not been considered a respected art form in comparison to those which were considered ‘men’s work’, such as painting and sculpture.
There have been many very strong reactions to Shelley’s statement, as a lot of people have been very affected by the message behind ‘#WhoMadeMyClothes.’ However, it is no secret that although many of us acknowledge that the current state of the fashion industry has to change, we just don’t know what to do to change this, and where or how to shop for alternatives.
During Fashion Revolution Week, ‘#WhoMadeMyClothes’ will be exhibited at Revival Collective’s ‘Fashion Revolution Exhibition’ at One Girl Band on Vine Street, Brighton, on Thursday 27th of April. This exhibition aims to make conscious brands accessible, so we will not just be exposing the horrors behind the fashion industries manufacturing processes but will also offer everyone the chance to experience conscious alternatives, all with conscious supply chains and 100% transparency about who makes their clothes.