Is there a protest message in your new jacket's pocket?


Fashion Week 2017 saw the Craftivist Collective concealing messages in high-street garments, with the aim of educating shoppers about the ethics of the clothing industry. At the time, I did see some of these little rolled up pieces of paper on social media and I have recently read a Guardian article about the activist messages.

The article describes the Craftivist Collective as a group of ‘gentle activists’ that protests against injustices in a quiet, non-confrontational manner involving pretty, handcrafted gestures of defiance.

Their aim this time was to highlight the questionable ethics of the British fashion industry. The members spent the four days of Fashion Week in high-street stores, ‘shop-dropping’. This involved creating messages of protest and placing them inside the pockets of clothing for consumers to find.

The shops apparently had no idea they were doing it at all. The Craftivist Collective previously convinced M&S board members to pay the living wage by stitching messages on to hankies. They are targeting fast fashion shops that put profit over people and the planet. I believe that their constant aim is to encourage customers of these stores to ask questions about how the clothes were made.

The messages were all neatly handwritten on miniature scrolls and tied shut with a ribbon bow. One of my favourite phrases that I saw was, “Beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder ... It is woven into the very fabric of the cloth. Our clothes can never be truly beautiful if they hide the ugliness of worker exploitation.” On the outside, they all say: “Please open me.”

During Fashion Week, there is a huge spotlight on the industry. The activists wanted to use this to encourage people to think about their clothes more carefully. When I saw the messages, it made me think about how fashion could be beautiful on the inside as well as the outside: I’m definitely more aware of the ethics behind the industry now.

I don’t know whether customers would appreciate the additions to their purchases: the small calm protest messages, however I do agree with some of the quotes on how the planet and environment should not be harmed in the creation and purchase of our clothes. In my opinion, these messages link closely to the ethics brought up in the documentary, The True Cost, which I recently watched and blogged about.


FashionRachel Fox