Category Archives: Student Education

WATCH // Media Theorised: Reading against the grain


What role does advertising play in journalism? Who funds and controls media coverage? Why is representation so important? How are stereotypes produced and reproduced through the media? Does the medium that we use consume information matter?

And, what does any of this have to do with responsible fashion?

The Listening Post has produced a series of short animated films introducing five media theorists: Roland Barthes, Noam Chomsky, Stuart Hall, Marshall McLuhan, and Edward Said. Media Theorised is a project that calls for a critical engagement with the media, and is a nice resource to share with friends, colleagues and students.

Many of the entanglements highlighted by these theorists are brought to the surface through the project itself, with respect to how it is shared and consumed, and all of these tensions would make great topics for further discussion: for example, the fact that I am sharing this content with you through a blog post on an English-language website; that the Media Theorized project was itself developed by a media network (Al Jazeera), and that each video has little Google advertisements that pop-up, and sometimes play before the video starts—a  reminder of the role of advertising in media (briefly mentioned in the Noam Chomsky piece); or the fact that you may have found this post through social media, and may be reading this content on a tablet, phone or laptop.

A couple of years ago I briefly shared some thoughts on how one of these tensions plays out in media stories related to labour rights for IANS: sponsored content surrounding responsible fashion, where the lines between corporate interests, corporate social responsibility, and critical journalism (or even bad journalism, for that matter) become blurred. Although I was picking on The Guardian at that time, the takeaway was that a critical lens is needed when reading any and all media coverage related to these issues (including coverage produced on this site).

I hope you’ll find these resources relevant and interesting. I’ve embedded a couple of the animations below. Each film comes with an essay and a downloadable poster – who doesn’t love a good poster?

Garment worker wages: select reports on trends and analysis from 2014

ILO 201415 Global Wage Report


The International Labour Organization (ILO) has just released their 2014/2015 Global Wage Report. While the report is not specifically focused on garment worker wages in fashion and apparel systems, it does overview global trends and highlights wage gaps, and I think it’s a good one to read through and bookmark to keep on hand.

With the report, the ILO has included a couple of short video clips explaining key terms, such as real wage and labour productivity, average wage and PPP$.

ILO videos re 201415 Wage Report

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) published three reports in 2014 relating to wages for garment work in the fashion and apparel sector:

Living wage in asiaStitched up 2014

Tailored Wages 2014

And of course, this worthwhile read from the CCC and the Asia Floor Wage in 2009 remains highly relevant: Stitching a Decent Wage Across Borders.

Stitching a decent wage across borders










Click here for the full list of CCC publications.

What resources have you turned to in 2014 for trends and analysis relating to garment worker wages? Share in the comments below, or let us know via Facebook and/or Twitter.


Test your knowledge! And track fast fashion with this interactive Africa study map

How well do you know your geography when it comes to Africa? Unfortunately, many of us need to study up.

This online tool could be a great addition to learning activities on fast fashion supply chains – specifically on second-hand trade.

Add this tool to:

via Africa is a Country

Africa Study Map

Get schooled in ‘Economic Complexity’ with MIT and Harvard

Licensed through the Creative Commons, The Atlas of Economic Complexity: Mapping Paths to Prosperity is a collaborative project that builds visualizations on import/export trade flow of products and goods. Once the visualization is built, learners can scroll their mouse over each category for further details.

Click here to read up on the research methodology used.

With green marking ‘garments’ let’s check out a tree map of Cambodia for exports in 2009 (click on the image to be taken to the interactive map):

Visualizations can also be built in stacked area charts and product space visualizations. Here’s a product space map of Hong Kong exports for 2009 (remember, green represents garments!):


Style and Status: Imperial Costumes from Ottoman Turkey

Some people are adamant that fashion is not art. This online exhibit proves them wrong.

Silk textile with gilt thread embroidery, 16th Century. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, © The New York Times, Dec. 5, 2005.

The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art have created an online exhibit that features highlights from their 2005 exhibit entitled Style and Status: Imperial Costumes from Ottoman Turkey. The online exhibit is beautifully curated with interactive close ups of the costumes that are so detailed you can actually see the fabric grain. What’s so special about the Ottoman Empire? According to the press release in 2005:

“Three weaves were dominant: velvet (kadife), featuring a three-dimensional surface with some areas of pile and some of metal thread; brocade (kemha) and cloths of gold and silver thread (seraser)—the most expensive and luxurious. In the mid-16th century, Ottoman taste increasingly favored large, bold designs, such as medallions, stylized tiger stripes, and a triplespot design known as “çintamani” (literally, “auspicious jewel”). By repeatedly combining the similar motifs in different scales and patterns, the Ottomans were among the first to use recurrent motifs to create a dramatic and distinct visual language—a quintessentially “Ottoman brand”—that became identifiable with the empire’s centralized political strength and growing economic power—its style and status.”

If you are an educator and would like to incorporate this amazing online resource into your lessons, you can get some ideas from the resource for educators with a 4-part classroom activity that accompanies the exhibit.

Now…go explore!

Online exhibit: Style and Status: Imperial Costumes from Ottoman Turkey

Other online exhibits: The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art

Educator’s resource: Asian Art Connections: A Resource for Educators. Style and Status: Imperial Costumes from Ottoman Turkey

Anti-Slavery International targets European Parliament through Cotton Crimes campaign

Anti-Slavery International has recently relaunched their Cotton Crimes campaign with a new video.

It is our hope that, through our short video, we will reach out, inform and encourage people to act in the interests of the children of Uzbekistan.” (Samuel Cooper, Anti-Slavery International)

Anti-Slavery International is calling on the European Parliament to remove preferential trade tariffs with Uzbekistan. Click here for more information and to sign the petition.

Over 60 international retailers have joined forces to boycott Uzbek cotton, publicly stating their commitment to the eradication of forced child labour through the Responsible Sourcing Network, an As You Sow initiative.

Click below to learn more about what’s happening inUzbekistanand to follow our ongoing coverage:

LEARN // Social Alterations / A Closer Look / Uzbekistan

Fashioning the Future Award winners announced, London

On November 10th, the Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF), at London College of Fashion, announced the winners of this year’s Fashioning the Future Awards — themed UNIQUE.

Congratulations to Ashley Brock (United States), Sara Emilie Terp Hansen (Denmark), Evelyn Lebis (Sweden), Christian Frank Muller (Germany) Alice Payne (Australia), and Lara Torres (Portugal).

Here is a taste of just two of the award winning entries (now added to the ‘Projects for Change’ collection on the left):

“Man sinking to the floor” from “An impossible wardrobe for the invisible,” by Lara Torres, is “a video installation showcasing water soluble clothing in order to comment upon the transient and disposable nature of fashion.” (CSF) Click here to view the entire series of performances.

Lara Torres present’s the recordings/documentation of seven performances in a video screening. These videos are based in the creation of temporary clothes that are produced with the aim of being destroyed. They refer to the los[s] of the object and the documentation of this loss. The action of effacing the clothes leaves a trace (the seams) translating a strong relation with memory and forgetfulness.” (Lara Torres, An impossible wardrobe for the invisible: vimeo)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

ThinkLifecycle, by Alice Payne, is “a widely applicable content management system joining new and existing industry practices in order for companies to evolve towards a sustainable fashion industry.” (CSF)

The ThinkLifecycle CMS grew from the need for sustainability to be a central concern within the mass market design process, rather than a tacked-on extra. Mass market fashion is affordable, accessible and democratic. However, it is based on a linear model of production where resources are extracted en masse, manufactured into garments and then sold to consumers, who rapidly dispose of them to purchase new product.” (ThinkLifecycle)


Congratulations to all the winners, finalists, organizers and participants!


Source: the CSF

Photo Credit: Alex Maguire, via the CSF

READ // Let’s Clean Up Fashion 2011, Labour Behind the Label reports

Labour Behind the Label has released a new report, Let’s Clean up Fashion 2011: The state of pay behind the UK high street (LCUF).

With respect to a living wage on the high street, this is the 5th edition in a series of LCUF reports from LBL.

The findings have ranked Levi Strauss and Gap Inc. with a score of 1 out of 5 (along side H&M, and others), while Zara, Monson and NEXT were found with the highest scores at 3.5 out of 5.

According to LBL, initiatives taking living wage seriously must be grounded by four essential pillars:

  1. Taking a collaborative approach
  2. Worker organizing and freedom of association
  3. Examining commercial factors paying the cost
  4. Rolling it out: developing a route-map for sustaining a living wage

The fact is that workers do speak out to demand better wages. At best they are often ignored; at worst they are persecuted, threatened, dismissed or harassed. Companies must do more to ensure respect for trade union rights in the quest to provide a living wage for garment workers.” (Labour Behind the Label, Let’s Clean Up Fashion 2011: Pg. 1)

Readers who have followed LBL’s LCUF reports in the past will likely be surprised to see Gap Inc. with such a low score, considering the company received one of the highest grades in the 2009 report. According to LBL:

Gap plans to work on developing good management and human resource systems with suppliers, which are needed. However, Gap supplied no evidence of plans to translate this work into real wage gains for workers. More worryingly, it states its intention to focus mainly on the achievement of compliance with minimum wages. This shift seems to suggest Gap has given up any plans to work towards providing living wages to workers in its supply chain altogether. We hope this isn’t the case.” (Labour Behind the Label, Let’s Clean Up Fashion 2011: Pg. 28)

LBL has created on online petition calling on Gap and H&M to do more. Click here to take action.

For readers on twitter who’d like to spread the word, here are some suggested tweets via LBL:

  • Which highstreet brands are doing most to improve pay & conditions for workers? Find out from Let’s Clean up Fashion:
  • Who’s ethical on the highstreet?  Find out in the NEW edition of Let’s Clean up Fashion: @labourlabel
  • Enough to feed your family – too much to ask? Gap & H&M seem to think so. Take action to ask them to reconsider:

Click here for company profiles and scores, and here for advice from LBL on where to shop.

LEARN // We Day introduces new teacher resources for pre-16 learners

Just in time for the new school year, Free the Children has launched an updated We Day website, showcasing their lesson plans for elementary and secondary school educators and learners.

Topics include the Millennium Development Goals, children’s rights, clean water, hunger, education and community mapping, among others.

This is what it’s all about—empowering educators to empower learners. Although the lessons and activities are not published through the Creative Commons, they are downloadable for free in PDF.

Here are some videos on child labour and globalization, presented by Dr. Jonathan White, Professor of Sociology and Political Economy at Bridgewater State University:

Will your students be participating in We Day this year? If not, these lessons will surely inspire them to want to get involved.

Otto von Busch Hacks Fashion Theory

As you know, we’re huge fans of Otto von Busch for his innovative work and research in ir/responsible fashion and hackivism.

In a recent project, Otto hacks fashion theory through a series of small booklets. We’ve just added them to our required reading list and so should you!

Fashion is the celebration of the immediate future. By being constantly new, fashion indicates that the future can be something else, and it pulls us there, by force almost, promising the endless possibilities of the new, the unwritten, our possible better self.” (The Virus of Fashion, Axel Trumpfheller and Otto von Busch: Pg. 27)

Click here to access and download the booklets.

Thanks to TED for sharing this project with us (stay tuned for the launch of their new site), and congratulations to Otto on his new post as Associate Professor of Integrated Design at Parsons New School of Design in New York!