We can say that the concept of “sustainability”, which covers three basic areas as “economy, society and environment”, has become the newest and gaining trend in the field of sustainable fashion. It is possible to declare that the use of plastics in the fashion industry is largely responsible for the pollution of ecosystems due to polluted waters that damage marine ecosystems, carbon emissions and the formation of microplastics. Unfortunately, clothing items leftover from factories and containing heavy chemicals are often dumped in nearby rivers and dumps, making the area more polluted. At Atölye Ren, we strive to make slow, sustainable and ethical clothing practices and fashion understanding the norm to prevent the environmental crises brought about by fast fashion.
As climate change continues to deteriorate, workers providing cheap labour become victims of environmental threats and the negative consequences of the irresponsibility and hypocrisy of garment factories that intensify existing climate problems and bring new obstacles.
The retail fashion industry started to depend on the power of mostly black and brown-skinned workers in the 1950s, and we can say that this trend has continued to exist in a global spread until today. At this point, we encounter the dark side of the fashion industry: cheap and surplus labour, with almost all the burden placed on the shoulders of women and children of colour. In addition to unpaid wages, poor working conditions, working hours that push or exceed the limits of the human body and mind, and violation of human rights, many workers are poisoned by the dyes and methods used and/or cancer, etc. also experience illnesses with pain. For this reason, garment workers are individuals who are primarily affected by the environmental harms of fashion, unfortunately. In order to prevent these injustices, we consider it our responsibility to preserve our transparency in production processes and to reward each person for their labour, and we aim for continuous change so that this approach becomes the normal state of the industry.
Are you aware of the processes of making your clothes and the multifaceted effects of these processes?
As a result of the collapse of the Rana Plaza Factory in Bangladesh in 2013, which was regarded as the biggest garment industry disaster the world has seen, and the deaths of more than 1,100 workers, many ”Western” people have seen how much how ”expensive” the “cheaply” made clothes really are. At this point, it is very important to mention the importance of “intersectional environmentalism”.
So, what is “intersectional environmentalism”? Simply put, we can say that it is a form of environmentalism in which both social and environmental justice are equally considered within the same dialectic. The term “intersectional environmentalism” continues to be critical for creating a better future because in today’s world, profits, especially in the field of fashion, are gained by ignoring human health and welfare and violating the rights. Thanks to “intersectional environmentalism”, sustainable fashion brands have to think of protecting both people and the planet, not only on a subject or person but also on many issues.
In addition to its effects on the environment, we are aware of the necessity of a sustainable brand to include diversity, inclusiveness, lack of representation and “intersectional”, that is, each element concerning each other and to produce with these values. We are aware of the positive and negative effects of even a single outfit in many areas. In this regard, we make our productions slowly and with ethical values because we think that “intersectional” and “inclusiveness” should be a basic principle rather than a trend, and these issues make sustainability real.
(Visual created by Ece Sezen Bağcı)