Wednesday, 5 April 2017

IKAT eCUT: The Truth Behind Fast Fashion

The amount being paid for different purposes in one clothing item (the left is fast fashion, the black tag is wage)
Where big retail brands' clothes are made worldwide
Natural dye selections with colour variety with different methods
Last weekend my sister and I sauntered off to a less familiar part of town to visit the IKAT eCUT: Slow Fashion exhibition, held by Goethe Institut Indonesia. I've been meaning to visit the site for weeks now and, thankfully, was finally able to do so. It was a long journey but definitely well worth it. The exhibition started off in Hamburg a couple years ago and I'm so thrilled to finally have it in Jakarta. My sister and I learnt a lot about the fast fashion industry, including the minimum wage situation in various countries, where clothes from different unethical brands are made and the local impact on the environment here in Indonesia. Did you know that Citarum River—the biggest and longest river in Java—is claimed to be the most polluted river in the world? The first case I noticed was perpetrated by GAP in 2013, but apparently the situation has yet to improve since then. Hopefully, you can read the rest of the information here—including water usage for different fabrics.

There was so much information, I'm very unsure of what to write here. But, for instance, something which intrigued me was the difference in wage payment in fast fashion and slow fashion labels. As you can see in the diagram above, for fast fashion, for every 4,95€ item, the workers receive only 13 cents of wage; while for medium price segment, for every 29€ item, the workers receive only—get this—18 cents of wage! Huge difference in price range yet so little difference in wage. Can you believe that? Meanwhile, for slow fashion, for every 19,90€ item, the workers receive 60 cents of wage—which makes a huge difference. And, if you guys know ethical clothing, you'd know that most of their clothes will cost more than 20€—which means more well-deserved wages for the workers. Let that sink in for a bit!

Pollution by clothing manufacturing facts and the effects on Citarum river (right)
Dyeing technique alternatives—including microfarming!

Hand-me-down shirt + purse + skirt // thrifted loafers + hat // outfit photos by Akita

But, aside from the negative facts, there is also good news in this exhibition. The slow fashion lab is absolutely enlightening and beautiful. It is filled with various items from local ethical labels, including my all-time favourite—which you would know if you've been around since 2015—Kana. There were also various alternatives in terms of dyeing, fabric manufacturing and dye-resist techniques—including our proud batik and the innovative microfarming. I was completely awed by the various natural dyes introduced, using leaves and woods from our local area—including the infamous indigo leaves—and how the colours may vary with the addition of other non-toxic substances. The same goes for the incredible fabric manufacturing using natural ingredients, such as pineapple and abacá banana. It was absolutely remarkable!

If you want to learn more about slow fashion and the dark side of fast fashion—and if you care about people and the environment, I suggest you do—come visit the exhibition! It'll still be around until 9 April 2017 at Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem. They also have some awesome side events to go with the exhibition each week—I'll hopefully be at their swap party next Saturday. Also, don't forget that at the end of this month it will be Fashion Revolution Week—and you can bet that there'll be a lineup of posts from this blog to support the cause. I'll let you know more about that when the time comes. Watch this space!

P.S: Deliberately wore ethically-acquired outfit for the exhibition—although I know most of them were probably not ethically manufactured. Secondhand is my life!

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