Leading up to the Christmas period, Know The Origin set up a pop-up boutique in Shoreditch, where they highlighted the importance of transparency within the fashion industry by hosting a series of informative events and selling beautiful ethically made clothing. This post will re-tell some of the in-store happenings and will hopefully inspire you to think about our relationship with fashion and its broader social implications.
Know The Origin following their launch party kicked things off with a 'Mending and Upcycling' workshop hosted by Jemma and Ella from the blog Stories Behind Things. The girls brought upbeat and positive energy on the bloody freezing December morning as everyone got nifty embroidering Flower Power-esque motifs into their unloved garments. Note: Embroidery works particularly well on denim jackets and jeans that are starting to feel a little bleak!
The store provided lots of fairtrade chocolate to munch on while we mused over the transparently made clothing, lingerie and jewellery. I bought Fashion Revolution's Fanzine- Loved Clothes Last, a magazine that focuses on the importance of taking proper care of our clothes and how we can give them a makeover in times of distress, which was an appropriate read for the day.
The two other events I attended amongst the incredible line-up were thoughtful panel discussions. Firstly, 'Setting up a Social Enterprise' hosted by Birdsong included Charlotte, founder of Know The Origin, Olivia from We Are Bread and Roses, a florist who employs refugee women and Emma from Chatterbox who helps people learn languages by giving them the opportunity to engage in conversation with refugees. All of the ladies provided insightful advice while re-telling the humble and humorous stories of their brand's histories and how they dealt with the pressures of not only starting up a business but ensuring that their practices were ethical and that prices were competitive.
The second panel discussion that I attended was hosted by Neliana from A Transparent Company who delivered an eloquent series of answers to queries concerning the current lack of transparency within global supply chains. A potential means of advancing supply chain transparency discussed by Neliana is block-chain technology, an innovative data system that could be used to make information regarding individual stages production more accessible to customers.
What I loved most about the two weeks with Know The Origin was that they aimed to innovate the industry by connecting the people shopping in their store with the people and communities behind the scenes making our clothes. Having the opportunity to learn about the cruciality of transparency in protecting and advancing labour conditions for garment factory workers was invaluable and inspired me to think about possibilities for change. Two themes amongst all the efforts that particularly stood out were appreciation and accountability. If we learn to look after our clothes (I have to admit I'm still working on this one) and take responsibility by shopping from ethical brands, then we can not only contribute towards reducing exploitation, but we can help make the planet a healthier and happier place to live overall.
For some tips on how to shop sustainably and create an enduring wardrobe check out '5 Ethical Fashion Intentions.'