‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’ Photography Exhibition

Anagha, 20 years old, makes clothes for Marks & Spencer, Tesco, and Mothercare.

Environmental campaigner and sustainable fashion blogger Esther Freeman wants you to know the faces behind the world’s cheapest and most available fashions. A new east London photography exhibition, launched by Freeman’s Fashion Mob campaigning organization, features photos captured by some of the world’s leading NGOs such as Greenpeace, ActionAid, and Anti-Slavery International.

Despite the ethical and green initiatives touted by many of the UK’s major chains, human rights and environmental abuses are still the rule rather than the exception. Freeman is critical of initiatives like Marks & Spencer’s ‘shwopping’ and she doesn’t think it goes too far to call them an example of greenwashing.

Boarding house for workers who manufacture school uniforms for M&S barely make enough money to live on.

“We obviously do have a massive problem with waste in this country and M&S is a big company, so if they can reach an audience that is throwing their clothes away and reduce that, that’s really important,” Freeman said. “But these women are being kept like slaves and M&S refuse to even look at the issue; it’s quite two-faced of them to not address these other issues at the same time and just go for the easy wins.”

While she doesn’t use the approach of telling people to avoid ubiquitous fast fashion chains all together, Freeman hopes the images in the exhibition will encourage conscious consumers to be persistent in asking major chains tough questions.

Greenpeace campaigner takes a river sample for testing.

Factories in China making products for Nike, Adidas, Puma and H&M dump waste into the river in Yinzhou district, China.

“At the very least put a visible message on their Facebook page, ask them what they’re doing about sweatshops. We have so much power to change them if we just use it.”

Image: Anti-Slavery International, Michael Hughes/ActionAid, Qui Bo/Greenpeace, Qiu Bo/Greenpeace

Rosie Spinks

Rosie Spinks is a freelance journalist from California with a degree in Environmental Studies. Her work has been published in publications including Sierra magazine, GOOD magazine, the Ecologist, and the Guardian Environment Network. A passion for travel, running barefoot outdoors, and reconnecting people to what is good dominates most of her thoughts. You can follow her writing on Twitter and Tumblr.