Entrepreneurship

Bag Affair and the Fashion Revolution week 2019

a mission to create awareness on transparency in Fashion, and the purpose of Bag Affair

As you know the fashion revolution week is all around the 24th of April each year to commemorate the tragic event of more than 1100 people who lost their lives and over 2500 injured in the collapse of Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh in 2013.

But as today there are still a lot of consumers unaware of where their clothes come from, how they are made and under which conditions, the fashion revolution week as an important date each year. For us it was a quite busy time this year with a lot of travels but great meeting and exchanges.

When we started our Bag Affair, we knew we wanted a transparent route. It’s definitely a harder route to take, but that was our decision, and obviously the right one. Bag Affair is for fair work conditions and salaries. To assure transparency and even as a small brand to be able to control how our bags are made in every little step: we only work with European suppliers and produce in Europe. We follow a strategy of transparency showing how and where our bags are made.

During this important month, we started off the 17###sup/sup### of April with an open studio at Veja in Paris. Taiseer travelled there to attend a Veja hosted workshop titled “Is transparency just a craze?”. It was an enriching experience with the presence of the sociologist and environmental engineer, and writer Majdouline Sbai. Her book titled “Une mode ethique est-elle possible” (is ethical fashion possible) has become a staple in the growing alternative fashion movement. Taiseer and Majdouline discussed the noble and durable features of cork that is used for all Bag Affair collections. This conference displayed the interest from the audience who were keen to learn Veja’s methods of factory social audits and permanent employees in Brazil. Veja does not only show how their shoes are made but aims for a full transparency in the production chain up to salaries. They are constantly working on new projects so stay tuned to see what surprises from behind the scenes they have in store for us.

In the evening the label SloWeAre, Une Autre Mode Est Possible (UAMEP) and the fair fashion online shop Dreamact organized a round table that’s all about “taking action” with ethical fashion [“Rencontre Créer Informer Agir #1 – La Mode éco-responsible”]. Arielle Levy and Eloïse Moigno each presented themselves and three other creative brands such as our friends from Brest Umoja Shoes, a young fashion label Atelier Unes, and Inaden bags made in Africa. Each brand presented their story and challenges, and ending the evening with an open floor where everyone can talk to one another under the same umbrella of ethics, fashion, entrepreneurship, action, going forward. A bliss.

In the next week of the 24###sup/sup### of April is was Ronja’s turn to be in Paris and to participate in the evening event of the Fashion Revolution France -a dynamic exchange about the way of more transparency in fashion and alternative ways to produce. The meeting was organized with Guillaume one of the founders of the Slip Français who produce not only briefs but now clothes made in France promoting the local production. Thomas founder of the jeans brand 1083 as well, where the premise of 1083 is the maximum distance in kilometres of his products all conceived in France. Upcycling was a big topic of the evening as the fashion revolution is not only about better production but also about alternative ways of production and throwing away less. Sakina M’sa founder of Front de Mode uses upcycling as a way of including left out persons and to integrate them back in the work life and society. A great meeting showing that the community of fair fashion is steadily growing.

Ronja and Taiseer both participated in a university talk in April 26###sup/sup### at the IUT Quimper titled “Winning in Fair Fashion for a world beyond next season”. Out of maybe 150 students in total only a handful heard of or knew about Rana Plaza. A whole new generation of well-intended but oblivious consumers need awareness. Maybe it’s also a fault of national or higher education to not focus on news events outside of France. We were happy to be there to help them learn but mainly to inspire them to ask more questions.

We finished the fashion revolution week in Lyon Sunday the 24th of April where Taiseer participated in a fashion event organised by the Greener Good, an association promoting a more sustainable way of life from food to fashion. The day included a conference of Bag Affair together with Azaadi  a fashion brand producing with perfect transparency in India, KLS Lunettes a producer of locally made glasses as well as Marion the founder of the ethical blog Ethizedo. Questions from the audience were on reasons behind the creation of each brand, and why the organic food and cosmetics industry seem to be advancing better than ethical fashion, among any other rich discussions from each person in the panel. The event in Lyon displayed a beautiful fashion show with a mix of all participating ethical brand in Lyon. It was the perfect end of the fashion revolution week 2019!

The week is over but Bag Affair will continue our path of fair produced business bags. Our energy has always been high, but the month of April our spirits flew even higher with these rich encounters. We know that there has been a statistical increase in social media use of the hashtag #whomademyclothes to 37% compared to 2018 (SloWeAre).

Thanks to the small but rapid collective efforts of young creators, we are able to shift the paradigm and create awareness. With this bottom up movement, even big media outlets such as Vogue are covered “ethical fashion” in April – now whether because it is “in fashion” now or not, doesn’t matter – we need all players to contribute to the cause.

The way to a better global fashion industry is still long- keep asking or my clothes, bag or my shoes.- Stay curios and look behind the scenes!

PS: We recently read in a post from the brand Jan‘n June saying: “Date someone who knows what April 24th is about”. They’re right!

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