Thursday, 12 May 2016


I don't think I could be called fashionable by any stretch of the imagination, but having new clothes is always a nice feeling - unless you let yourself think about suffering and exploitation which goes into so much clothing production and 'fast fashion' nowadays.  There are some lovely ethical brands (eg., but it's amazing that, on the whole, we are all so complacent about this issue.  Indifference and fashion go hand in hand - in many ways, apathy seems to be the prerequisite of fashion.

Dress by People Tree -

Tragedies in clothing production occur on a fairly regular basis (eg. the Rana Plaza disaster), quite apart from the daily misery of conditions in many factories - but fast fashion only needs to nod vaguely towards their responsibilities and most people seem to be satisfied.

I'm reading a lot of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century sermons at the moment (this is for my project on nostalgia in the fourteenth century).  It isn't a huge surprise to find the preachers  fulminating against contemporary fashions, revealing necklines, fancy jewellery and so on (usually with a good dose of misogyny thrown in) - in their view, the growing obsession with finery and fashion seemed to embody pride and avarice.  But I was a little more surprised to find their critique also turning to the implications of the production of this clothing.

The early fifteenth-century preacher, San Bernardino of Siena passionately told the crowd, 'were you to take one of these gowns and press it and wring it out, you would see, gushing out of it, a human being's blood.'

Most of San Bernardino's fiery rhetoric would do us little good today - quite the opposite - but on this issue, his combining of anger and compassion might stir us in the right direction.

No comments:

Post a comment