The FUTURE of Fashion is unfolding NOW
Last Thursday, as a finale to all the wonderful events at RISD + Fashion Revolution week, I was invited to present along with some other amazing speakers. The presentations were organized into the Past, Present, and Future of fashion from the perspective of ethical practice and sustainability issues. Here's a recap of this inspiring event!
"Past" - presented by Joey DeFrancesco
The presentation began with Mr. DeFrancesco's discussion of how the textile industry became established here in the United States and the fact that it was largely fueled by the exploitation of its workers from day one. He quickly covered a lot of history from the vantage point of Slater Mills, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, which was the first textile mill to be established in the U.S.A. By looking at the motivations and inventions that enabled the rapid growth of the textile industry here, he was able to illustrate how intimately intertwined it was with the slave trade. In fact, although slavery had been abolished in Rhode Island by the time Slater Mill was established, the textile boom resulted in an exponential increase in the use of slaves throughout the South as demand for cotton exploded.
Although slaves had not been used in Slater Mill, Mr. DeFrancesco explained quite clearly that the workers in the mill were exploited to an inhuman degree, and most of the initial workers were children. His lecture was very enlightening and brought the exploitation of workers very close to home, reminding us all why transparency is needed in any manufacturing industry and why movements such as Fashion Revolution are so important.