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Action Update: Volume 37

Action Update: Volume 37

 

Find out what Labour Behind the Label have been up to in our bi-annual Action Update.

There is lots going on in this action update. Worker organising in Leicester became public in October when 500 workers joined a rally calling for orders and fashion brands to support decent work. We’ve been campaigning also in support of workers in Thailand who are taking Tesco and social auditors Intertek to court, and the Wai Full workers in Cambodia fighting for their pay. Read about solidarity with Sri Lanka and our new report on Pakistan, just out.

Read it here: Action Update: Volume 37

 

Action Update: Volume 36

Action Update: Volume 36

 

Find out what Labour Behind the Label have been up to in our bi-annual Action Update.

It’s been an incredibly busy start to the year and we are excited to share it with you here. April was jam packed with lots of events co-organised by LBL to mark 10 years on from Rana Plaza. We have an update on Leicester for you as well as sharing some ways you

can support us with our fundraising. Read about climate chaos in Bangladesh, women workers in Pakistan and the pressure activists are putting on adidas to pay their workers. We also welcome Maya (Advocacy Lead) and Alena (Campaigns Lead) to the LBL team!

Read it here: Action Update: Volume 36

 

Action Update: Volume 35

Action Update: Volume 35

 

Find out what Labour Behind the Label have been up to in our bi-annual Action Update.

This month we’ve been asking who pays the cost of fashion? In this issue, you can read about our campaign to pressure sportwear giant adidas to stop wage theft and negotiate a solution with worker groups. Hear about our engagement with workers in Leicester. There are updates on our Missguided and Matalan actions, urgent action in Sri Lanka and much more.

Read it here: Action Update: Volume 35

 

Action Update: Volume 32

Action Update: Volume 32

Find out what Labour Behind the Label have been up to in our bi-annual Action Update.

It’s now been over year since the shockwaves of Covid-19 have been felt globally, not least by those who make our clothes. Our #PayYourWorkers campaign is ongoing; brands are beginning many brands are agreeing to our demands and workers are being heard. In this issue you will also read about the need to continue the Bangladesh Accord and what we are doing to ensure this happens, and what you can do. We’ll also give you an update with our UK work as well as how we have been working with UNISON to improve procurement practices for all workers including those who are LGBTQ. And finally, read a fundraising update and how we are continuing to build a strong organisation, thanks to you!

 

Read it here: Action Update: Volume 32

Tansy Hoskins: One Challenger’s experience of the Six Items

Tansy Hoskins: One Challenger’s experience of the Six Items

I have a confession to make: I own 182 pieces of clothing. Last year I decided to pack 176 of them into large laundry bags and wear only the remaining six for the next six weeks.

What happened is a tale of two halves. It started in February 2020 when I had the headspace to be both apprehensive and obsessive about what six items to keep and what to give up. In my notebook from February, I wrote: ‘I am suddenly passionately attached to all my clothes. Even the ones I haven’t worn in months.’

With a few days to go, I had whittled my wardrobe down to seventeen items and part of my brain was in panic mode: ‘What can I pass off as pyjamas? If non-six things are in the laundry, can I keep them?’ I am embarrassed to say I even emailed the Labour Behind The Label office to ask if I could get extra items as a ‘uniform’ – nurses, for example, have uniforms excluded from their six items. I guess I hoped journalists did too? A note from the time reads: ‘Caroline wrote me a sympathetic email back, gently implying that I should stop worrying.’

The angst I was feeling might seem superficial but it was real and it was part of why I wanted to face this challenge. In a society where we depend so much on material objects to express our identities, the Six Items Challenge stress tests what happens if some of that choice goes away. I was curious to discover the extent of my dependency on clothes. Was it possible for me to let go and find other, less materialistic, ways to connect with people, and how might my happiness levels be affected?

Wardrobe cold turkey is not easy, it is a reckoning with your sense of self. A shrinking of the resources we use to construct ourselves – even as they in turn shrink the collective resources we depend upon to live. It’s not easy, but why should it be easy? I hoped it might take me to the existential question of our time: Is life about having, or being.

The Pandemic Hits

A few weeks later it was March 2020. Everything, especially the garment industry, had plunged into total chaos.

It has always been very clear to me that the Six Items Challenge is a luxury. In a world of food banks, refugee camps, homelessness and poverty, having bags full of clothes to give up is a champagne problem. But the arrival of a global pandemic intensified the feeling that my worry over clothes had been particularly, luxuriously quaint.

Despite the cliché of lock-down being about wearing pyjamas, the challenge got harder once we had to stay inside. I’m conditioned to turn to clothes to attempt to cheer myself up but there were still weeks to go. I did, however, switch two hopelessly formal items – tailored trousers and a body suit – for a relaxed pair of trousers and a t-shirt.

As I grappled with a huge surge in work, the struggle to keep up with the Armageddon engulfing garment workers, and my own personal knowledge that my new book tour was over before it had begun, those six items became the opposite of disposable, they were vital. They kept me warm and in return I cared for each of them, connecting with their seams and stitches, each one sewn by another human – someone who I hoped hadn’t just lost their job, or fallen sick in a crowded factory. I felt every pulled thread and patch of thinning material – seeking joy in familiar, dependable love even when it felt really hard.

Once the six weeks ended on April 9th, I did not get all of my clothes back out, just a few pieces to liven things up. In the months since, I have mended every item in my wardrobe that needed fixing. I

have donated a few items and started ‘shopping my own wardrobe.’ Those same storage bags still contain packed away clothes that I can ‘discover’ when I crave something new.

When I started thinking about how to write about the challenge, I thought the global pandemic meant I had no big revelations to share – who can say whether a wardrobe fast changed my life when so much has altered since without my choice? But now, as I glance over now at the clothes in my wardrobe and then turn to look out of the window, I have realised I do have something to share: It is better to have no beautiful things and a hundred places to go, than to have hundreds of beautiful things and no places to go.

The pandemic has reinforced a sense of what I love – community, other people, family, friends, shared wellbeing, purpose and culture, travelling through the outdoors, working collectively to make the world a fair and just place. My wardrobe though? Not so much – I’d trade it all in an instant to regain the precious immaterial world we have lost.

TIPS

  • Make sure everything can be washed together and there are no outliers. Not doing loads of laundry is a massive plus.
  • Get some early sponsors who are genuinely interested in your mission and who you don’t want to let down – that will help if you grow tired of the challenge or get cold feet before you start. I eventually raised £150 for Labour Behind The Label and with funds badly needed this year, I will happily sponsor the first few people who get in touch with me.
  • Stick with it, the difficult bits are where you learn about yourself and about the system we live in. (With the caveat that this is a tough year and you are a volunteer, so don’t make yourself miserable.)
  • I wore lots of black, more colour would have been nice.
  • Find someone to talk to about this, connect with the other people doing #SixItemsChallenge2021, and journal your experiences.
  • Enjoy all the conversations this challenge will spark. Some people, probably men, will claim they already only wear six items – I never found that any of them were telling the truth because it’s a miniscule number.
  • There are some legit loopholes e.g. accessories don’t count – this isn’t a matter of public health, these loopholes are fine.
  •  

—- Tansy E. Hoskins is a journalist and author of Stitched Up – The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion and Foot Work – What Your Shoes Are Doing To The World.