Take Part in the Six Items Challenge from Labour Behind the Label

Six items challenge

Detox Your Wardrobe with A Fashion Fast to Oppose Fast Fashion

The Six Items Challenge is a campaign by Labour Behind the Label that challenges participants to choose just six articles of clothing and wear these only for six weeks. The Fableists are taking part, so please join us!

The official challenge runs from 5 March to 17 April 2014 but Labour Behind the Label encourages participation at any time of year.

There are a few exceptions that are permitted. Your ‘6 items’ do not include any underwear, socks, shoes, accessories, performance or work-out clothes (cycling gear etc.), work uniforms (including suit, shirt, tie, or whatever is required by your employer), or pyjamas. If the season and climate require it, you can also pick one coat as an extra item. Work uniforms may also include a suit/white shirt etc., if this is required by your employer.

You can have fun with it and are encouraged to accessorise and mix and match as much as possible. The goal is to raise awareness of the dangers of fast fashion and shift the way that you think about your wardrobe and buying clothes.

What is ‘fast fashion’?

According to Labour Behind the Label:
Fast Fashion is a relatively new phenomenon where brands change their stock every 4 to 6 weeks to keep up with the very latest fashion trends, at a price which makes the clothes cheap and disposable.

Fast Fashion is the drive to increase profits and get products into our high street shops faster and faster, to satisfy an insatiable desire for new trends; the drive to sell more, consume more, make more, waste more. This drive has disastrous consequences for the people who make our clothes.

The Six Items Challenge is designed to challenge our increasing reliance on Fast Fashion.

Further to our Facebook posts from yesterday, Matt Cooper from The Fableists is leading the way and taking part as our team representative! As we’re starting almost a week late, Matt has pledged to take his challenge up until April 24th, the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh.

We will post the 6 items that Matt has chosen on our blog over the coming days, as well as updates on how it’s going. How can you get involved?

  • Sign up to participate in the challenge yourself at this link. Do not be afraid of failure. The end goal of this campaign is to raise awareness of issues that face garment workers as well as funds. It is also to change your reliance on fast fashion, so any shift in mentality where this is concerned is a win.
  • Sponsor Matt in his efforts by visiting our fundraising page here. Every little helps, so please dig deep!
  • Share our posts on FB, WordPress, twitter and Pinterest about the challenge to help spread the word about this great campaign.
  • Visit Labour Behind the Label to find out more.

Where do the Funds Raised Go?

They go towards fighting for garment workers’ rights. The following is from Labour Behind the Label:
Garment workers don’t have the unlimited choices we have. £3, not much is it? The price of a sandwich, a copy of a fashion magazine or a cheap t-shirt in some of the UK’s leading high street stores. But this amount is double what many workers can earn in a day making clothes for the UK market.

The reality is that UK brands want more and more from their suppliers while giving less and less. Long hours, daily overtime, poverty wages and unstable job contracts all hamper basic needs such as buying food, healthcare, education and accommodation.

This is the norm for garment workers across the globe.

At Labour Behind the Label we don’t advocate boycotting brands as this often has a negative impact on workers, but we want consumption needs to slow down, the pressure on workers and the constant precariousness of jobs and wage levels needs to be addressed.

By exploring this issue through the Six Items Challenge and fundraising for Labour Behind the Label, you can play a vital part in contributing to the work we do in supporting real people in their struggle for better rights and working conditions.

Here is an idea of what your sponsorship can do:

£5 can help distribute materials to local groups for awareness raising meetings and events.
£10 can go towards conducting vital research into working conditions in factories around the world.
£20 can help respond to Urgent Appeals for intervention on behalf of workers in need.
£200 can cover the cost of meeting and lobbying companies and government bodies to legislate for better protection for supply chain workers.
£300 can print education resources to ensure schools and universities have access to global workers’ rights issues.
£500 can bring a garment worker to the UK to speak about their experiences and help lobby for change.

Get in involved and get in touch to tell us about what you are doing.

The Fableists

Matt, the Founder on Why he Launched The Fableists

Matt Cooper, Founder of The Fableists

Matt Cooper, Founder of The Fableists

I’m Matt Cooper, and I guess you could say I’m the guy who started this thing and I thought I’d tell you why.

I have been lucky enough to spend 25 years working in the advertising and production industries. Starting in an agency dispatch department, I have worked in a number of companies in various fields within the advertising world. I have been able (along wife my wife, Sarah Cooper, who runs this blog) to create a few things within the advertising world that have become interesting global businesses. Along this journey, we have worked with and met some of the world’s most celebrated advertising people, from top creatives to world class directors and been inspired by their creativity but also how they so often put their ideas and talent towards good causes.

It was while I was in India on business that the journey towards launching The Fableists began. I fell head over heels in love with India and started to read about it. For several years, the only books I would read were based in India, about the history, the culture, the people. You could say I got a little obsessed! As part of my personal study of India, I read about child labour and grim factory settings. This made me start to look more deeply in to the garment industry in general. I became interested in the whole process of making clothes and was shocked to discover what heavy chemicals are used to grow the raw materials we make clothes from and in the dyes we use. I was horrified to learn that farmers in India were exposed to these chemicals and that it was making them and their families ill, that Indian farmers in their thousands were committing suicide in order to escape the cycle of debt in which they were finding themselves because they weren’t getting a fair price for their crops. On top of that, as a lifelong asthmatic and father of one eczema sufferer, I couldn’t believe that this could be partially caused by the presence of chemicals in the clothes that I was wearing; that I was clothing my children in. I wasn’t entirely naïve to the slightly dodgy by-products of the fashion industry but this was a wake-up call.

So, I made some changes to the way I buy clothes, and my family buys them. I started talking to people about sustainable clothing. I spoke to some clothing designers about ideas, I spoke to people in the ethical and sustainable fashion world, I spoke to the contacts I had in the advertising industry… I was probably kind of annoying! I was like a dog with a new bone and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I believed we could do something to make some changes and that we could do them now, rather than waiting for some deadline a decade (or more) away. In trying to make changes to how my family consumed, I found that there weren’t any sustainable clothes for kids that suited us. I thought: ‘We could make them. Why not? We’ve started businesses before!’ Between my passion for buying sustainably, my desire to create some cool kids’ clothes, and my connection to the creative world – I had a bit of a light bulb moment. We could do two things: create a lovely but edgy kids fashion brand that would appeal to this trendy crowd (and others) and work with those brilliant creatives to help us create the brand and get it out to the rest of the world and help spread a very real, positive story – minus any b*llshit. And bang! We were off.

What we wanted to do was simple. First of all, build beautiful, design-led clothes that would be affordable and sustainable. And secondly, allow you – the buyer – to find out everything about who produced them, designed them, packed them, shipped them and helped us along the way. Really we were creating our own mini movement to push out to the world. We know you want to make good choices and we’re offering you an easy, stylish way of doing just that.

We built the brand and started to put a team of people together, all of whom we met through business one way or another, to build on our mission to change the world, one design at a time. That beautiful line and simple mission statement was dreamt up our agency partners Brother & Sisters. You can read more about them and why they have gotten behind this project in the Our Story section of this blog. We are also working with director Olivier Venturini of global production company Great Guns to create documentary style films about amazing kids who are true Fableists. We are in the process of creating a beautiful brand film, written by the team at Brother and Sisters and animated by Oscar-winning visual effects company The Mill. The Fableists are many!

What started with a small idea has now launched as a brand and we are both excited and extremely proud of what we have achieved. This business is and always will be a collaboration of creative folk doing what we think is right and giving our customers what we believe they want – amazing clothes that will stand out from the crowd (and last) and for the business to be totally sustainable. We want you to hear our whole story as it unfolds and you can always find out more about The Fableists on this blog.

This is a passion for us. It’s become a lifestyle and it’s certainly helped me make more positive choices in the way I buy. We hope it will do the same for you.

We hope you like where we are going so far and hope you’ll pick up some of our clobber for your own lovely little punks.

We are always eager to hear from you, so please be in touch.

Viva La Fableists!

Matt Cooper

A Visit to India to Inspect A Factory

Mud Flap on Bike Outside the Factory

Mud Flap on Bike Outside the Factory

Last week, Matt Cooper, founder of the Fableists, went to India to visit one of the factories that we are using to make our clothes. He will be telling you a bit more about his visit and introducing some of the people that we met over the coming days.

He visited The Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills, Kolkata, a family-run business with long serving employees, and Fair Trade accreditation. We have chosen to work with them because they are passionate about their commitment to working sustainably to produce high quality, 100% organic cotton clothing. We have also chosen Rajlakshmi because of their involvement with Chetna Organic, who are committed to ethical and environmental practice. Chetna works with small and marginal farmers (over 15,000 of them) in the rain-fed regions of Maharashtra, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, India. With strength in numbers, they are able to keep the quality of output high, while also ensuring that cotton farming remains a viable livelihood by getting fair prices for the farmers. They are also 100% Fair Trade and organically certified.

Rajlakshmi buy their organic cotton through Chetna and, in exchange, the collective own a stake in the factory. This is a great example of two groups supporting one another in order to improve the output, and also maintain cotton growing and manufacture in their region. They are both committed to working sustainably from soil to garment.