Fashion can’t be built on the backs of female garment workers and not hear their stories and adjust practices accordingly. And with a new $50,000 grant from Fashion Impact Fund, Remake will continue its efforts to ensure that.
“The women who make our clothes are the unsung heroes of the fashion industry and this grant allows us to bring fashion’s most essential workers’ stories to public consciousness,” said Ayesha Barenblat, chief executive officer of Remake, a nonprofit advocacy organization fighting for fair pay and climate justice in fashion. The organization had most recently been focused on “building solidarity for the Bangladesh minimum wage negotiations because garment workers are reporting nutrition deficiencies and an inability to buy food at the current wage rate,” Barenblat said.
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Early in November, Bangladesh announced a 56.25 percent increase to the minimum wage — though that’s roughly half the raise workers and unions wanted.
“By supporting Remake, we can advance transformative change and foster a culture of accountability within the sector,” said Kerry Bannigan, founder and executive director of the Fashion Impact Fund, which provides grants to fashion programs for women, and also puts on the Conscious Fashion Campaign that has seen women in sustainable fashion upsized and celebrated on billboards in New York’s Times Square. “This grant reinforces our shared belief in the power of conscious fashion to shape a more equitable and sustainable future.”
While there may be money in fashion, funding isn’t always going where it’s needed most.
“There is a lack of funding to mobilize resources rapidly toward the people on the frontlines of shrinking wages, gender-based violence and climate shocks,” Barenblat said. “Garment workers and grass root women organizers have the solutions. We need to move funding toward the communities most impacted.” The Fashion Impact Fund grant, she said, will focus on bringing these stories to life.
It’s about a contribution to “breaking the cycle of poverty,” Bannigan said.
It’s also about collaboration, a popular refrain among the sustainable set and those pushing for more streamlined progress.
“Some of the biggest campaigns that we have won, like #PayUp, and policy gains like The Garment Worker Protection Act, was by bringing unlikely allies across the fashion ecosystem — from models, influencers, creatives, sustainable brand founders to garment worker leaders — to join forces,” Barenblat said. “Often conversations within the sustainable fashion world can be difficult if we blame different stakeholders. Whose job is it to tackle fashion excesses on people and the planet? Consumers, brands or factories?”
Though that question remains unanswerable, there’s no shortage of claims and commitments from brands and businesses when it comes to sustainability, some more promising than others, but Barenblat is watching what happens with the reintroduction of the Fabric Act. The act, she said, has “up chain liability, eliminates piece rate and sets up funds for cleaner, greener manufacturing in the United States.”
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