Marking four years since the Rana Plaza factory collapse, Fashion Revolution Week 2017 called on consumers to question brands as to who makes their clothes. At Nest we provided some of our own answers by showcasing some of incredible artisans of the Nest Guild whose craftsmanship is enriching the fashion industry. Check out the Nest Instagram @buildanest to see photos submitted from Nest Artisan Guild businesses La Casa Guatemala, Mercado Global, Sonica Sarna, and Allpa Peru.
As the second largest employer of women in developing economies after only agriculture, craft production impacts millions of women globally. But as part of the informal economy outside of regulated factories, artisans face special challenges to transparency and fair treatment. Nest’s Rebecca van Bergen spoke with Refinery29 UK about our approach to ensuring a more circular fashion economy that connects consumers and producers – with a brief excerpt here:
While the amount of data on the craft sector is alarmingly sparse (an issue Nest is working on fixing), Lucy Siegle’s To Die For suggests that as much as 60% of garment production is likely to be happening outside of regulated factories. Part of the reason why this enormous artisan workforce has been so invisible is because it is physically difficult to get to and tricky to track – for example, craftwork is often subcontracted and outsourced from factories without brands knowing. Unless systems are put in place to help brands map these complicated supply chains, and unless industry-wide standards are accepted for assessing ethical compliance in homes and small workshops, artisan invisibility will continue, increasing the likelihood that these women are not protected and advocated for.
Additionally, when a brand is left without means for ensuring the wellbeing of its home-based workforce, it may decide to pull production from artisans altogether, putting many people – largely women – out of work. For women in particular, this is devastating news, because the ability to work from home is one that is fundamental to their wellbeing and livelihoods. Working from home gives women living in some of the most challenging environments in the world the ability to provide for their families even when travelling to cities is dangerous; outsourcing childcare is not an option and factory work is undesirable. It is critical that this work continues, and Nest is creating the compliance standards that ensure it can do so in a way that promotes artisan wellbeing and artisan business growth over time.