'Now take the power of fashion if used properly: the first time I went to Bangladesh in 2008 I visited lots of villages on the coast which every year get flooded because of climate change, making it almost impossible to live there. Bangladesh is one of the biggest garment producing countries in India and so many brands produce there. Many women leave the villages and go and work in Dhaka for poverty wages, and then get trapped in a cycle of poverty from which they can’t escape. They need to work more and more hours to make the money for their basic needs, and most can’t even send their kids to school. Or if they do and something happens at the school and they can’t go to work (something that happens to every mother in the world), they loose their job as there are no unions, no protection. And in the last two years of the pandemic, brands have even refused to pay for the orders they already placed, leaving thousands of people in conditions which are beyond humane. So where do they go? They migrate again. And it never stops.
Now turn it around: imagine a world where brands produce in Bangladesh and pay a living wage. Every worker is part of an union and has medical protection. And holidays. And sick leave. They work normal hours, they have a nice life and there is even an economic ladder. It would be a very different scenario wouldn’t it? Brands have to take responsibility for the people in their supply chains, no matter where they are.
Through projects like this one, we can highlight the opportunities that fashion has to create a world where UNHCR doesn’t exist anymore as everyone is happy, being taken care of and never displaced ever again'. Livia Firth
Pictures taken at the home of Victoria Jarman, models Jo Reali & Natalia Zwonlinska.