With Her New Initiative, Emma Watson Wears Her Politics On Her Sleeve

by: Rosie Dalton | 1 year ago | Features

Image: Emma Watson’s latest ethical outfit, created by Louis Vuitton using Newlife fabric. Image source.

In the years since Emma Watson was first appointed the UN Ambassador for Women in 2014, her interest in the world of ethical fashion has only continued to increase. So much so that the British actress has now become a bona fide advocate for labels that support gender equality right throughout their production practices. When you think about it, this makes sense too, because as someone who cares about women’s rights and gender equality, Watson recognises how many gender inequality issues currently exist right throughout the fashion industry. And she is committed to doing something about those issues, by putting her money where her mouth is.

As Refinery 29 reports, Watson has just started a new Instagram account called The Press Tour, which highlights her work with brand consultancy firm Eco Age, which is all about helping designers to achieve growth through sustainability. As individual consumers then, we too can make a commitment to putting our money where our mouths are. By ensuring that our political beliefs are reflected in our purchasing decisions, we are not only acting as authentic human beings, but can also make a significant difference in the lives of other human beings too. At Well Made Clothes, for example, we believe that honesty is the best policy. Which is why we're all about transparency within the context of our own business and are also passionate about supporting brands that uphold the same principles. Our Values system reflects core beliefs such as these. Because, despite being informed by fashion industry supply chain issues first and foremost, we've found that many of these same issues also exist in the world around us, broadly speaking.

1) Attended the women's march? Fight for women's rights in fashion too.
If you thought the gender pay gap was bad in  Australia, take a moment to consider Social Europe's findings that “4 out of every 5 production line workers are female, whilst just over 1 in 20 supervisors is a woman.” And yes, Trump reintroducing the "global gag" rule to pull funding from US-led international aid groups that provide information on abortions is a major problem, but so is the fact that an overwhelming 70% of female workers at factories in Guangzhou China have experienced work-related sexual harassment. So if you stood up for women’s rights by attending one of the recent international women’s marches, why not back this sentiment up with your purchasing decisions as well? By getting behind brands that support gender equality, you can extend your political beliefs through to your actions. Putting your money where your mouth is in this way can thus affect positive change in the lives of real human beings.

2) Argued over drinks about that 'nonexistent' pay gap? Ensure fair rights for all workers.
We all have those friends (usually male) that are vehement in their insistence that the gender pay gap simply doesn’t exist — despite the fact that the World Bank Gender Data Portal says women in most countries earn 60 to 75% less than their male counterparts. This is an issue even more pronounced in the fashion industry, where it’s highly common for workers (both male and female) to be paid far less than a living wage. In Myanmar for example, Somo found that a number of popular high street brands were employing children as young as 14 in their factories and paying them around 21 Australian cents. In Myanmar the legal minimum wage is 3,600 kyat ($3.45) for an eight-hour day, but labour NGOs argue that a minimum of 6,000 kyat is required per day for a basic standard of living. So if you care about fair rates of pay and issues such as these, then you should also support fair labour in your fashion.

3) Watched Leo's Before the Flood documentary? Support sustainability in fashion?
Have you seen The National Geographic’s recent documentary Before the Flood, hosted by Leonardo DiCaprio? If so, then you will no doubt feel inspired to campaign on behalf of our environment, which is currently facing devastating fallout from the highly unsustainable modern world in which we now live. The fashion industry has a lot to answer for in this regard, too. As the second most polluting industry in the world after oil, fashion can also be a very thirsty and waste-intensive business. Conventional cotton crops, for instance, are the dirtiest crops on the planet, using 11% of the world’s pesticides, 24% of the world's insecticides, but only use 2.4% of the world's land. But according to the World Wildlife Fund, it can also “take more than 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton; equivalent to a single T-shirt and pair of jeans.” So if you feel passionate about saving the environment, then you should support brands with sustainability at their core.

4) Passionate about recycling, composting or minimising personal waste? Carry that through to your clothing.
Do you hate litter, or feel passionately about minimising your personal waste? You don’t have to be zero waste to be an avid recycler and/or composter, for example. I mean, even owning a Keep Cup or a Klean Kanteen means that you care somewhat about helping to reduce the copious amounts of plastic we currently pump into the environment. So if that’s the case, why aren’t more of us concerned about the vast damage caused by the fast fashion cycle? If you care about minimising personal waste, then you should also be worried about the fact that we now purchase 400% more clothing than we did 20 years ago. Not to mention the fact that, on average, we discard 30% of clothing after we’ve worn it once, meaning that Australians alone send an average of $500 million of clothing and textiles to landfill every year — or 30kgs per person. To radically reduce your contribution to this landfill then, why not support brands that are all about minimal waste and pushing back against the fact that for every metre of fabric used for clothing, an average of 20% is discarded as waste?

5) Believe that animals should be friends not food? Shop vegan instead.
Are you a vegan or animal lover? Do you believe that these furry creatures belong as our friends, rather than as food? Well then you would naturally be disturbed to learn that more than one billion animals are killed for their fur and leather every year. And with designers showing no signs of slowing down on the fur beat either, it’s clear that we consumers need to be the ones to do something about this issue. Fortunately there are now so many great vegan alternatives on the market, even in the trickier categories such as footwear. With that in mind, animal lovers can extend their political beliefs in favour of our furry friends by shopping vegan next time. Every purchase counts in pushing back against a cruel and unnecessary industry.  

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