What would you say if I told you, that amongst all of the negative stories you have heard about the fashion industry, there are actually amazing people out there in the world, who make positive contributions? That there are people and businesses who focus on sustainability and ethics at the very core of their operations and incorporate it into everything they do in order to create beautiful products that do not harm people or the environment? And these are not just businesses who dedicate maybe a collection a year or a department of their operations to sustainable and ethical practices in their supply chain.
Well believe it or not, these people exist. And a couple of regular young women from Melbourne have decided to dedicate an entire year of their lives to finding these gems of the fashion industry. They want to get their stories heard and start a conversation about all the people making a positive impact in the industry.
And like all regular people, they have decided the best way to do this is to walk through parts of Asia and then film the entire experience. I will give you a minute to digest this. Walking. One whole year. Neither of them are athletes. One of them hasn’t even been on a multi-day hike before. Maybe the thinking through of the possible challenges was quite minimal. But I guess that’s what happens when you have a dream. All the little stuff doesn’t matter. You just figure it all out along the way.
The mastermind of the whole operation, Megan, was driven by the desire to somehow inspire change in the broken system that is the current fashion industry model. She has been planning this adventure for quite some time, first telling me about it probably a couple of years ago now. Since then, the plan has been slowly developing in her mind. And now it is finally go time.
Originally, Megan had planned to walk (alone!) through Asia to highlight all the bad stuff that goes on in these factories. All the stuff we don’t get to see (Side note: Plan A was not well received by the parentals). However, Megan came to realise that there are some pretty good reasons why we don’t get to see the bad stuff. It’s extremely dangerous. It’s almost impossible to be granted access into these factories or even to talk to workers. Realistically, who is going to let some random Aussie woman into their factory with a video camera so she can show the world their awful ways of producing clothing?
Plus, Megan realised there are already enough horror stories about the fashion industry. With so much negativity being reported, there is the risk that people become overwhelmed with the scale of the environmental and ethical problems within the garment supply chains, causing them to disengage completely because they feel powerless to make a change.
But what about the good stuff? Megan knew there were a lot of positive things starting to emerge within fashion supply chains and decided it would be much nicer (and safer) if these became the focus of her adventure and these were the stories she brought to the attention of the rest of the world. Everybody likes to hear a good, heart warming story. This is the way to inspire people not to give up hope when it seems like the fashion industry is too far gone and the damage has already been done.
So, along with the new (slightly more parent-pleasing) plan, Megan recruited her walking buddy, Gab, and the Walk Sew Good team was born. The two met while studying at uni and both share the same passion for social and environmental issues. Now together, they will visit incredible artisans and cooperatives and show the world that there is an alternative to the current fast fashion model.
Despite what these girls might say, they aren’t just a couple of regular Aussie girls. The fashion industry desperately needs people exactly like them to create change in the industry. I’m not saying that everyone needs to get their walking shoes on, but everyone can help in their own way. The industry needs people who are willing to go against the norm. People who will keep drawing attention to the industry until drastic changes are made. And most of all, people who believe change is possible.
Do you know of any positive fashion stories in Asia that you’d like the girls to check out? Post your ideas below!