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at Cafe 1001 on Brick Lane, East London 21/2/15

by Daniel Bovolenta

This event was organized by War on Want (a movement of people committed to global justice), sharing a vision of a world free from poverty and oppression, based on social justice, equality and human rights for all. There were workshops and debates, combined with theatre, film and DIY crafts. 

The main speakers at the event were:

John Hilary (Executive Director War on Want)

Tansy E. Hoskins (author of 'Stitched Up' -The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion-' and co-founder Brick Lane Debates)

Katharine Hamnett (see our previous post).

Tansy Hoskins talking, next to Katharine Hamnett and John Hilary.

I attended the following debates:
  1. Fashion as a form of expression of human resistance: For instance, Punk was a strong movement of rebellion against society and especially capitalism. Therefore fashion can be a strong weapon to fight capitalism and social issues.
  2. Fashion as a contributor to climate change, e.g through the use of pesticides in intensive cotton cultivation.
  3. One of the main topics raised was the politics helping trade unions in Bangladesh and Cambodia. Developed countries need to help these countries by providing eduction, which enables workers there to get better jobs, instead of solely relying on manufacturing work.
  4. "Boycott": The shared opinion was that boycott is needed in order to put pressure on companies. Tansy Hoskins was in favour of a selected boycott. For her, she wouldn't boycott a brand or item she couldn't afford, she gave the example of  Hermès, remarking "why would I boycott Hermès as I don't have the money to buy it in the first place!" 
    Boycott can also be dangerous for the workers, less work would mean less money to feed their families etc. i.e. economic repercussions.

Tansy Hoskins with the NGWF flag 
which stands for Bangladesh's Biggest Garment Workers Federation

Also one of the films shown and debated was 'Tears in the Fabric', an emotional and powerful documentary on the aftermath in the Rana Plaza disaster in Savar, Bangladesh (April 24th 2013 - see also Fashion Revolution's website). Shot and directed by Hannan Majid and Richard York (Rainbow Collective), who were both present at the event to debate the subject of victim compensation, since many of them have still not received the full compensation they are owed by liable clothing companies.

All images courtesy of Daniela Bovolenta.

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