I feel the fabric on my skin. I feel the clothes warming me. I feel special because of my style. I feel I belong to a group. I feel beautiful. I feel valuable. Me.
What do you feel?
I feel poisoned. I feel polluted. The earth.
I feel exploited. I feel sexually abused. I feel unsafe.
Clothes, besides their function to warm and cover bodies, are also a means of expressing one's own identity. They enable belonging and provide space for individualism. Clothes give you the feeling of being valued by a group or of being special and unique. People define themselves through clothes. And although clothes have such a high value, there is hardly any knowledge about the relation the garment has had with people and the environment. Clothes are consumed in large quantities without people giving a single thought where the products come from and what production and delivery process they have gone through - without being aware of the impact that textile production has on the environment and on people. Yet clothes are way more complex. They tell stories. From the textile fibre to the people who have touched it during the production process to the often very long journey to the end consumer. But when people buy clothes, they do not see or hear these stories. The non-transparency of the garment industry makes it impossible to trace the long journey of the garment - makes it impossible to determine how many faces it has seen and the damage it has done during production.
Clothes touch many things.
Clothes touch water. The cultivation of the cotton plant requires vast amounts of water, as well as the dyeing process. Surrounding lakes and rivers of garment and textile factories suffer from the direct impact.
Clothes touch the earth. Pesticides and herbicides used in the cultivation of cotton end up directly in the soil. Discarded clothes wind up in landfills, creating mountains of textiles that emit CO2 during the process of decomposition.
Clothes touch those who contribute to the production of the textile. A large proportion of workers do not even receive the minimum wage and work far more hours than is acceptable from a human rights perspective. Many people are subjects of sexual violence and exploitation. The working environment is not safe and workers are forced to work in precarious situations. At the same time, they are exposed to high health risks
I feel the fabric on my skin. I feel parched. I feel empty. I feel poisoned. I feel polluted. I feel exploited. I feel sexually abused. I feel unsafe.