It’s a Blog Takeover – Michelle’s Reflections on Fashion Revolution Week

Hi everyone, I’m Michelle, Terri’s eldest daughter and today I’m taking over her blog on this last day of Fashion Revolution Week, April 23-29, 2018.
On April 19, 2013 I joyfully celebrated my Bat Mitzvah with United Hebrew Congregation of Joplin, Missouri. Bat Mitzvah means Daughter of the Commandments. Henceforth, I was fully a Jewish adult with all the rights and responsibilities that entails. That night I read the Torah portion Kedoshim found in the book of Leviticus. Kedoshim contains the Holiness code; some of the most well-known passages found in the Torah such as revere your parents, do not turn to idols, leave harvest gleanings for the poor, do not place a stumbling block before the blind, love your fellow as yourself, and other laws detailing religious separations.

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Repairing The World

As part of the Bat Mitzvah ceremony I presented a speech about what I learned from this Torah portion. This talk is called a D’var Torah. During my D’var, I discussed not just the Holiness code, but what I felt compelled to do to further the work of Tikkun Olam. Tikkun Olam is the Jewish concept of repairing the world, which we as Jews are called to do.

A few weeks prior to my Bat Mitzvah, my mother Terri, gave me a book entitled Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion , by Elizabeth L. Cline. This book impacted both of us deeply. Shocked by a horrific Bangladeshi garment factory fire killing 112 in November of 2012, that night Mom and I vowed to take the Refashion Pledge. We would not buy new manufactured clothing for a year. Little did we know that the worst garment factory disaster was to come on April 24, 2013.

 

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Rana Plaza

The Rana Plaza, a five-story commercial building home to five clothing factories, a bank, several shops, a child care center, and apartments, showed cracks along its lower floors prior to April 24th. A local TV channel recorded footage showing these cracks on the 23rd. The building was evacuated, but the owner told the media the building was safe and workers would return soon. The next morning, thousands of workers were pressed back to their jobs, despite their concerns. Garment workers are typically young women that depend on these meager wages, so their families can survive. Many were told by factory managers they would lose up to a month’s pay if they refused to go back to work. The Rana Plaza collapsed the morning of April 24th killing 1,134 men, women, and children.

BANGLADESH-BUILDING-COLLAPSE

The day after the collapse, Bangladeshi photographer Taslima Akhter captured her countries national grief with her haunting photograph “Final Embrace”, showing two garment workers killed in the tragedy, a man and a woman, embracing in the rubble. This photo is heart wrenching. Time magazine selected the image for the magazine’s top 10 photographs of 2013. Due to the graphic nature of the image, here is a link:

http://time.com/3387526/a-final-embrace-the-most-haunting-photograph-from-bangladesh/

 Asma

Taslima took many photographs of the aftermath and later interviewed survivors a few years later. One survivor named Asma, was trapped in the rubble for three days. She did receive some compensation to rebuild her life, but that has been difficult. Asma is still unable to fully return to work and her 13 year old son now earns more than she.

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Fashion Revolution

Fashion Revolution, a Foundation based in the UK formed three years ago bringing together designers, producers, makers, workers, and consumers. Their blog has chronicled other stories of survivors. The Foundation challenges the fashion industry for more accountability throughout the year but marks the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy with the #whomademyclothes campaign. During this week, brands and producers are encouraged to respond with the hashtag #imadeyourclothes and to demonstrate transparency in their supply chain. The Foundation encourages usage of other hashtags such as #imadeyouryarn, #imadeyourhat, and #imademyclothes. Their blog details Asma’s story and other survivor’s stories. Please take the time to read a few.
Earlier today I posted a picture to Instagram holding this sign.

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Through social media I have connected with amazing women that share my passion for fabric, sewing, fashion, and DIY. I’ve participated in Sew-a-longs, photo challenges, stalked my favorite sewing bloggers, liked and complimented dozens of handmade creations. However, in my enthusiasm I had rather forgotten what initiated my sewing lifestyle to begin with. Seeing this Fashion Revolution hashtag flood my Instagram feed this past week was almost like a shofar blast hitting my ears, reminding me this isn’t just about me, my sewing machine, and the amazing women I’ve met along the way. It was my wakeup call that for these men and women, sewing is not a weekend hobby, but their livelihood. Justice demands garment workers receive a living wage and a safe work environment. Women like Asma, who is only 29 years old, but appears much older shouldn’t be living with a lifelong trauma.

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I said this five years ago, if enough consumers opt out of the current system and demand change, change will happen. This is something all of us can work towards regardless of religious affiliation. In sum, I’m rededicating myself to do what I can for women like Asma; to sew my clothes mindful of the women who do not have a choice, thrift my clothes when possible, and taking care of what I already have. If I absolutely need something new, I will only buy from brands who have signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety In Bangledesh.
I will end with the closing paragraph from my D’var five years ago. The Holiness Code entailed in Kedoshim contains some of the most well known passages in the Torah. Many of these laws discuss distinct separations, but at the same time we are told to have an awareness and connection to the greater world and humanity. That is what I’ve learned the most from this portion. Choosing an identity as a Jewish woman, I have separated myself from the religious culture of the American majority. However, as a Jewish woman I have to stay connected and committed to my family, our community, and our world.

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What Mom Thinks

Hello, this is Terri.

It was ironical that The Rana Plaza disaster occurred about just one week after Michelle and I made a pledge together to not buy fast fashion for one year.

The initial decision to join Michelle in the “no fast fashion pledge for a year”  was to honor Michelle with one of the most important decisions of her life; to become a member of the Jewish faith. I’m not sure that either of us knew how that decision would change both of us.

Michelle became an excellent seamstress. She wasn’t always; take it from her proud mother who at times tried to teach her. This one, she really did on her own, with help from some pretty great Crafty (an online learning site) classes.

For myself, I found that I could live without TJ Maxx. Who knew? Michelle was already thrifting and I decided to find out was the draw was. Well, we all know where that ended up don’t we?

By the time I started my blog two years ago, Slow Fashion was in my blood.

Yesterday we were in Joplin celebrating Michelle’s birthday and she mentioned a new D’var  that she had written for her Temple service last Friday. I read it and asked her to do a blog take over today.

I link up with some great blogs every week. To see who they are go HERE.

Thank you for stopping by. I’ll have another blog bit next week for the 2nd Loved 1st Friday Linkup. You are certainly welcome to leave a comment or two or three. I love to hear from you.

Again, thanks for stopping by. Take care……..

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21 thoughts on “It’s a Blog Takeover – Michelle’s Reflections on Fashion Revolution Week

  1. Thank you, both of you.
    Words aren’t needed to say more than to thank you with grace and humility for writing this and being who you are.
    X.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Michelle, for a thought provoking post that goes to the heart of the importance of ethical fashion. I agree with all that you have said and have a similar attitude. The unexpected bonus is the fun that making, thrifting and upcycling have been; also in addition to the human cost of throwaway fashion the environmental impact is another factor that has influenced my decisions.
    I love that you have followed your heart and despite the somber message, I very much enjoyed your post. I also really like the sandals in the bottom photo!
    Terri, it was a great idea to invite Michelle to write. It’s lovely to meet another member of your family. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Sally, it was time to let her write something. She has always been an administrator-well, both girls are. I’ve always wanted this to be a family thing. Everyone knows that Michael takes photos and edits me and last year Michelle and I did a couple of posts together, but I always did the writing. It was nice to just put my 2¢ in at the end.

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    2. You’re so welcome! I’m glad I had to opportunity to share this D’var/essay. The sandals are a recent addition from Poshmark. They’re perfect!

      Like

  3. Thank you so much for sharing with us Michelle, and for giving her a voice, Terri! These stories are heart wrenching, indeed! Terri, you know how strongly I feel about shopping pre-loved items – it’s my passion, and, as well the direction I want my styling business to be focused! It really encourages my heart to see the next generation picking up the torch, as well, to fight this battle! I am so, so impressed, Michelle, that you would go so far as to teach yourself to sew! (I admit I have ZERO talent in that area, despite numerous attempts) If your outfits on this post are any indication, you are gifted, indeed!
    Wonderful, wonderful, much needed post, ladies! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome! Full disclosure, I have sewn off and on since I was a teenager, but not in a satisfying way. The Craftsy classes really gave me the skills I needed to enjoy sewing and produce quality garments. I can’t recommend them enough!

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  4. Thank you Michelle. I learned a lot from your post and love the concept of Tikkun Olam. Raising awareness of working conditions in the garment industry is in itself a huge contribution. I have reduced my fashion purchases considerably in the last couple of years due to reading blogs like this…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What an amazing post. Thank you. Fast cheap fashion has been in the media here and as you say the Foundation is in the UK. We are quite conscious of it and we do thrift and donate quite readily in the UK. Still I don’t know an era when we’ve had more clothes as individuals as now.

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    1. The UK is ahead of us in a lot of ways! We do have an abundance of thrift stores in my area, but very few of my friends and acquaintances utilize pre-loved garments. I really think there is a stigma, that thrift stores are for the “lower classes”. Trendy re-sale shops do not seem to have as much of a stigma however, so that’s a start at least.

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  6. Great takeover post! I watched The True Cost on a flight last year and that was a real eye opener. Rana Plaza was a terrible tragedy, but one that could and should have been avoided. Nobody should have to work in those conditions so that we can have the latest cheap fashion. I do buy a lot of second hand clothes, both for ethical and financial reasons. I would love to learn to make my own clothes though, that’s definitely one of my goals. Thanks for joining in the link up!

    Emma xxx
    http://www.style-splash.com

    Like

    1. You should definitely put sewing on yours list! There are so many inspiring teachers and bloggers now on Instagram. I really haven’t thrifted very much since I started really sewing seriously because I’m more or less creating a capsule wardrobe. Trying at any rate. Sometimes I see fabric that I just love even though it doesn’t really go with anything I have, but I make it work!

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  7. Hi Michelle and Terri. This is a lovely article, it is always nice to hear someone else’s slow fashion journey. The Rana Plaza disaster was so shocking, the only comfort is that this time after a factory disaster, it seems to have been the catalyst for change for many people, including myself. Well done for becoming accomplished sewers, this is something i really want to dedicate some more time to in the future.

    Sending me best wishes to you.

    Love Lottie xx
    https://intotheeco.com/

    Like

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