Are You Ready to Join the Fashion Revolution?
Sarah Crawford is a Noonday Ambassador, a mom to two young girls, two old dogs, and one adventurous rabbit, and wife to an Australian who was crazy enough to move to Virginia with her. She is an animal welfare advocate and a self-proclaimed tree-hugger with a passion for clean water. Although she has spent most of her life helping animals and protecting the environment, she has come to realize that the key is empowering people. It was this awareness that motivated her to join Noonday in 2016. She loves telling a different type of story with Noonday and making an impact beyond her little corner of the world.
Let me start off by saying, I am not a fashionista. I typically pick function over fashion. You won’t catch me in a pair of high heels (although I do love a good wedge) and I have tried really hard to embrace shapewear to no avail. It is slimming; I’ll give you that. But feeling like a stuffed sausage does not make me feel good about myself. It can also make it hard to breathe, which is an important thing and I enjoy doing it.
Thanks in part to my time spent as a Noonday Collection Independent Ambassador, I’ve learned something about putting myself in any category: I shouldn’t do it. I can be a nature-loving science nerd and still accessorize like a boss. After all, Noonday’s founder and co-CEO, Jessica Honegger, had never even worked in the fashion industry before she started Noonday, and now she uses fashion and design to create economic opportunity for people all over the world.
It All Began with Water
Water is actually the reason I’m writing about a fashion revolution today. I’ve worked in the water industry for almost nine years because water (like breathing, see note on shapewear), is essential to life. Every living thing needs water. Odds are you can turn on a faucet to get clean, safe water and flush a toilet to get all that dirty water taken away and cleaned. All from your home. But billions of people in the world don’t have that. In some places, women and girls spend up to six hours a day collecting water. It’s hard to earn a living or go to school when so much time is spent getting water or battling a water-borne illness. Fortunately there are some amazing organizations working hard to end this water crisis, and once communities have clean water and sanitation there is time to work, learn and dream.
Photo courtesy of waterforpeople.org
Work that Changes the World
Now, people need a job. A safe and sustainable job that can put food on the table and send children to school. Empowering people, especially women, with a dignified job can be the difference between surviving and thriving. When all of the pieces come together, families flourish and everyone has the chance to reach their full potential.
That’s how I ended up in fashion. Job creation changes the game. But not all jobs are created equal and that is what this week, #FashionRevolutionWeek, is all about. Fashion Revolution is a social enterprise and global movement born from the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed over 1,100 people and injured thousands more on April 24, 2013. The illegally built building housed several clothing factories and collapsed on itself after garment workers reported large cracks growing in size in the building’s concrete. Concerned workers were told to enter the building or lose their wages for an entire month. The deadliest garment factory disaster in history was 100% preventable.
The High Cost of Fast Fashion
But Rana Plaza is not the only place where profit was put above people. Unfortunately, fast fashion is prevalent. Fast fashion mass produces trendy items at a low price, and it supports factories like Rana Plaza still today. I love a good deal, but that $10 blouse may come at a price that you don’t see. Unlike fair trade or slow fashion systems, in fast fashion the workers are often the biggest corner cut. Young women find themselves trapped in poverty making cheap clothes for long hours and low wages. Fast Fashion also cuts corners when it comes to the environment. Why make a high quality item when it’s going to be out of style and tossed after one season? Items are treated as disposable and not made to last, one of the reasons about 15 million tons of clothing are discarded every year in the United States.
An Environmental Problem — And Solution
But fashion doesn’t just have an environmental impact at the end of its lifecycle. Our clothes are often manufactured in countries that lack the environmental regulations we expect in the United States. The fashion industry is a major consumer and polluter of water. About 20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment and an estimated 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles. Leather tanneries are also responsible for some of the world’s dirtiest manufacturing sites.
But the good news is, we don’t need to despair—rather than abandoning our style, we just need to revolutionize it. Companies like Noonday make it easy. We’ve got third party certifications that confirm we are doing right by people and the planet, and we partner with businesses that provide dignified jobs and use eco-friendly methods and materials. Jewelry doesn’t go out of season and our artisan-made pieces are certainly not disposable, so instead of buying a new shirt I use my accessories to refresh my closet staples. I haven’t gone total-capsule-wardrobe, but I do have plenty of classic and versatile clothes that I can style different ways.
The versatile Goldenrod Lariat Necklace can be worn many ways, including as a bracelet. It’s made in Uganda by Noonday’s first partner, a business that now provides fair work to hundreds of people in their community.
A few ways you can use your voice during Fashion Revolution Week (and all year long):
- Ask brands #WhoMadeMyClothes via email, twitter or instagram and demand greater transparency in the fashion supply chain.
- Find all kinds of resources and materials ready to use at Fashion Revolution: Print a poster, share your story, try a #haulternative, and more!
- Support slow fashion companies and hashtag your favorite social justice brands on social media. Make sure to use #NoondayStyle for those Noonday selfies!
- Get started with tips from other Noonday Ambassadors like Lisa and Elizabeth.
My trip to Kenya was life changing, but you don’t need to hop on plane to make a difference. Open a book and get yourself a pair of our Maasai Earrings. You’ll be educating the next generation here in the U.S, and helping send Maasai children to school in Kenya.
There are real people behind everything you are wearing. People like Chenny, Rosario, Latifa, and so many more. Fashion and style can be empowering, and you’ll find you feel even better about what you have on when you know who made it and how it’s made. I know I do. If you buy less, care more, and know how to make the clothes and accessories you love last longer, you can’t go wrong.
So, who is ready to join the revolution?!