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HADEDA Sunday Reflections with Stella Hertantyo

Stella reflected on bringing attention to the garment worker within the fashion industry and the fact that our fashion choices have a direct impact on garment worker’s lives.


Image of Stella Hertantyo from the cnscs_ blog


How the burden of fast fashion falls on the most marginalised – the garment worker

Something that has been on my heart recently (especially since the beginning of lockdown) has been how, in times of global crisis, it is always the most marginalised communities that suffer the greatest burden. This is evident in our own country in this time of COVID-19. But, in terms of Fashion Revolution Week, I started thinking more and more about this, because the global fast fashion industry has recently cancelled, or refused to pay, for billions of dollars of orders that they made from their factories in third world countries, before national lock downs. I was listening to a live with Ayesha Barenblat, founder of Remake, and she explained that the way that fast fashion brands operate is that they will place huge orders with their factories, and only after the order has been produced do they pay for the order. Sometimes payment only happens months after production. Because these brands work through intermediaries, they don't consider factory workers their employees. But, what this means, is that if these orders are not paid for, it is the factory workers and retail workers that will suffer the most. So, this is a system where the burden of our fashion choices falls on the most marginalised.


Fashion Revolution week happens every year in the week coinciding with 24th April, the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. Read more about it here. 


How do you imagine a better future for those workers?

(The following is a paraphrased summary of what Stella said in our live chat.)

Access to adequate healthcare within their working environment, especially given the context of COVID19. Fair and regulated working hours.  No free or forced labour. No child labour. No gender based violence. Being paid a fair wage for the incredibly valuable work they do.


Why it’s important to make conscious fashion choices

On a personal level, this just reinforced that if I'm going to be buying new garments (as opposed to preloved, which is usually my first choice!), I really want them to be from local, small businesses who build social and environmental sustainability into their value chains. In a live I watched, Jackie May of Twyg mentioned a quote by Dr Christina Dean: "Behind every stitch is a human, and behind every human is a family." I think that summarises the sentiment perfectly. Emerging from this global pause, where people have had to radically simplify their lives and remind themselves of what is most important to them, I think it could go either way: we could enter a period of much more considered and conscious consumerism, or discount culture and the lure of cheap clothing will peak (because of global economic recession). But, I really truly hope it will be the former. I'll be reminding myself of that quote each time I'm thinking of making a purchase, and I hope that others will be inspired to do the same.


Image from Twyg mag


What are one or two practical tips for our listeners on a budget to use to enjoy sustainable fashion alternatives?

(The following is a paraphrased summary of what Stella said in our live chat.)

  1. Shop your own closet! Find new ways to wear things you already have. It’s free.
  2. Borrow from or swap with others, like a friend or family member. It’s also free!
  3. Shop thrifted, vintage and pre-loved clothing. There are lots of thrift, pre-loved and vintage online stores to shop from.
  4. Shop second hand from charity stores. It’s often very cheap and you’re also giving back to charity by doing so.
  5. Save up for an investment piece that you’ll love forever from a local, sustainable fashion brand.

Illustration by Stella Hertantyo 


Stella Hertantyo is co-creator of @cnscs_, the chairperson of Her Campus UCT as well as an amazing illustrator.



Follow Stella on Instagram @stella_hertantyo

Find Stella’s inclusivity focused sustainable life/style platform here @cnscs_

Find Stella’s online magazine for womxn creatives here @hercampusuct

Find Remake's #PayUp petition here

Find Fashion Revolution’s #whomademyclothes email template here 

Read more on the state of garment workers in the fashion industry here 

Follow the #haulternative hashtag and partake in the challenge yourself - a way of refreshing your wardrobe without buying new clothes! 

Find out more about Remake here 

Find out more about where to shop thrift, preloved and vintage online in South Africa here 


Tune in to our next Sunday Reflections live chat on the HADEDA Instagram, @shophadeda