The fashion industry is carpet bombing our planet.

Author, journalist and campaigner Tansy Hoskins is one of few to connect Karl Marx to Karl Lagerfeld in a Venn diagram. Karl and Karl both play a role in Stitched Up – The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion, Tansy’s 264-page dissection of the destructive forces of fashion published earlier this year.

– What I like about fashion is the sense of creativity and joy it affords many people, including myself, Tansy says. What disappoints me is the way that there are too many things bound up with the industry that prevents this creativity and joy from being universal. The clothes that I wear keep me in a state of unease – when you love something, you want it to be perfect.

Tansy wrote Stitched Up because she was looking for answers.
– I wanted to create a book that dealt with all the issues I was concerned about, from workers rights and the environment to racism and cultural appropriation.

She describes the desire within people to consume clothes “like a black hole that can never be filled” and her perspective is staunchly anti-capitalist. As a result, there aren’t any bosses in Tansy’s fashion utopia.
– I wanted to name capitalism as the causal link to all of these issues. The 1,134 people who died in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh were forced to work in a building they knew was unsafe. Without capitalism, the owner of Rana Plaza would haven been working in the factory like everyone else and his life would also have been at risk from criminal practices. Plus, socially-owned and organised production would also solve the problem of over-production as no one would vote to work 15-hour days seven days a week on an assembly line to produce 20 billion pieces of clothing.

Recently, Tansy has been horrified by NASA’s announcement that the Aral Sea dried up in August, a catastrophe caused by water-intensive cotton production in the region.
– The fashion industry is carpet bombing our planet. Fashion is worse than other industries because it is a deregulated, subcontracted, trend-based industry that relies on selling billions of short-life units every season at a maximum profit. It sees natural resources like water as free for it to use to maximise its profits, whereas the destruction of these crucial resources will be paid for at a terrifying price.

While recommending organisations like War on Want, TRAID, and Labour Behind the Label, Tansy adds that although she is convinced that problems of this magnitude can never be solved by individual solutions, individuals can be part of that solution.
– Go with your instinct that something isn’t right in the industry and in society, she says. Her own biggest source of information is Twitter.
– If you aren’t on it, I would suggest joining immediately so you can follow your favourite campaigns. Get out there and meet like-minded people, read widely, allow yourself to be inspired by visions of change. The campaigns and movements are there, and they’re the only thing that have ever changed the world, so go find them!

Words by Emma Lundin
Illustrations by Jade Pilgrom
Photo of Tansy by Henna Malik

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