One dress, so many jobs

Do you know who made your clothes? This short film by Ernst Heusser sheds light on why it’s important to ask.

“Every item of clothing that you buy in a shop has a story behind it and the Fashion Revolution is here to tell that story.”  So begins Roots to Retail, a short film about ethical fashion by Ernst Heusser that premiered on Fashion Revolution Day (24 April) at the Bello Studios at The Biscuit Mill in Cape Town.

The Fashion Revolution campaign is a global initiative that promotes ethically made fashion, a cause given added urgency by recent tragedies such as the collapse of Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed 1133 factory workers in 2013.

The Fashion Revolution South Africa event last Friday included a photographic exhibition featuring portraits of 24 local advocates of ethical fashion, such as knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo, Alistair Barnes of Ballo,  ELLE SA editor Emilie Gambade and Celeste Lee Arendse of Selfi.

Roots to Retail features the makers behind local fashion labels such as Ballo eyewear, Lalesso and The Joinery talking about the value of making clothes locally and the benefit for the consumer.

We get a rare and intimate look at the faces of the people who make our clothes and the factories and homes where they are made.

With the influx of inexpensive global brands in South Africa in the past few years, the local fashion design industry took a knock. Alice Heusser of Lalesso says that big brands have “also killed a lot of people’s livelihood and self-esteem”.

The Fashion Revolution is about giving your clothes a face. “It’s about highlighting those stories about the people behind your garments,” says Natalie Ellis of The Joinery. “It’s about the crafters, the seamstresses and the pattern makers.”

As Louise Park-Ross of GOOD Clothing notes: “One dress, so many jobs.”