Unfair trade: The dollar-a-day-dress

This ambitious project aired recently by Panorama, an investigative documentary programme from the BBC, revealed the unfairness inherent in today’s global textile trade. Reporter Steve Bradshaw toured Cambodia, Mali, Peru and Uganda in search of textiles for a group of students from London College of Fashion. Their objective was to create a garment for a Comic Relief fashion show to raise money for Children in Need in the UK. Each fabric served to highlight diverse issues from low wages (a dollar a day), poor labour conditions, deteriorating breeding stock, illegal US trade, and competition from an unregulated industry in China. Even charitable cast offs from Western countries undermine local textile production in recipient countries. Sadly, while the dollar-a-day-dress told a fascinating story, there isn’t a quick fix for more equitable progress in the inter-connected world of textiles…unless we, as consumers, raise our levels of curiosity when making that next purchase. [by ©Alastair Fuad-Luke, 2005]