"We can't let up!"
Michael Lavergne’s book is fascinating because he worked as a fashion and retail buyer for many years and has been very honest about his experiences as a competitive fashion buyer. Lavergne has also ensured that Fixing Fashion provides an in-depth historical contextualising of conditions in the fashion industry and that the book is full of accessible facts and figures.
This is a chance to hear from a real supply chain insider. Lavergne describes buyers, like everyone else, as being limited by the systems within which we live and work. On the question of whether fashion buyers have any chance of changing the industry from the inside through their choices, he describes how buyers are “rewarded based on profit margins and are punished for breaking ranks so there is a fear factor at work as well.”
But on the positive side, Lavergne states that “I believe with very subtle shifts of what we measure and how we reward meaningful work can still generate 'growth' and 'profit' but through a different lens of understanding 'value'.”
In terms of hope for change in the industry, Lavergne says “In the real world of Myanmar, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Ethiopia, new models are trying to break new ground, people are talking across stakeholder groups, important brand and country level labour agreements have been struck.”
This does not mean that change will be automatic. Lavergne is clear that “change didn't come through a change of heart at most brands, it has come and continues to do so because of vocal, activist efforts to coordinate directly with those most impacted. We can't let up.”
Lavergne would also like to see universities change how they teach fashion: “Apparel and fashion education institutes have for the most part just barely begun to revamp curriculums with sustainability and ethical business practice content. There's a stark gap in manufacturing and factory level skills now in the West but this was largely self-induced by Corporate fashion interests and global finance.”
In Fixing Fashion Lavergne states that it's not that the public doesn't care about the misdeeds of the fashion industry it's that they 'do not care to know'. He describes ‘awareness and mindfulness’ as important but says that ‘for many who are simply trying to survive, they are an esoteric luxury. Real responsibility lies with government-to act on society's behalf (read: legislation) - and industry to ensure the transparency, health and social norms of supply chain practices.’
For more, check out: http://www.fixingfashion.com
Transparency: I received a complimentary copy of Michael’s book.