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I have been incredibly fortunate to work in fashion for over 25 years. From the covers of Vogue to portraying Allegra Cole in the movie Hitch, I have played numerous roles in the pursuit of selling the beautiful and ideal life. There is no doubt that fashion is a fun and creative expression of who we are. Unfortunately, there is an ugly side to fashion that we don’t see.
I have become aware of how our choices in fashion have caused harm around the world. Fashion is a global industry of disposable products with complex supply chains enabling brands to deflect responsibility. Today, there are more than 30 million people living in slavery – more than any other time in human history. 55% of them are women and 26% are children. Their hands often make our clothes – from picking cotton in Uzbekistan to children stitching clothes in Indian factories.
As shoppers, we are clueless. We find ourselves obsessing over the latest “it” bag. Buying, buying, buying more – looking for a bargain without understanding the true cost. We can no longer hide behind the facade of a beautiful life that is built on destructive practices. Practices that particularly harm women and children. I absolutely include myself in this. We must start asking questions: Who made my clothes? Where were they made? How many “slaves” work for me?
In 2013, I launched an online store called Master & Muse by Amber Valletta to sell stylish and responsibly made fashion and accessories. We are constantly pushing the envelope to make the world a better place. To address the issue of slavery and child labor in fashion, we work with Made in a Free World. This organization helps businesses like us protect our products from slave labor, so we can make better decisions and create better products. We share their belief that it’s our responsibility to create a world where every product is Made In A Free World!
It’s true that we all want to look and feel beautiful. But there is a cost to our consumption. Gandhi said it best: “There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.” So what do we need to do? Wake up! Remember that we have power as shoppers and that our dollars speak loudest. Start by inviting your favorite brands to join Made In A Free World, and #buybetter products from companies committed to freedom! Together, we can recreate fashion and become fashionista heroines of a free world!
Be the Change
There’s no doubt that the world has made a lot of progress in the last several years, but for girls and women, there’s still work to do.Check out our great partners below who are doing important work on this issue.
More than 30 million people
live in slavery today...more than any other time in human history
of modern-day slaves are women and girls
More than 1 million people
are forced to pick cotton in Uzbekistan every year
See who's making a difference
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their...
Vital Voices Global Partnership is the preeminent non-governmental organization (NGO) that identifies, trains and empowers emerging women leaders and social...
We are a committed movement of individuals, businesses, and groups using the power of the marketplace to disrupt the business...
#ONEderWoman of the Week: Shabana Basij-Rasikh
Growing up in Afghanistan, Shabana Basij-Rasikh had to fight for an education. Despite the Taliban-imposed ban on girls going to school, her parents were determined that Shabana and her sister would receive and education. Every day, Shabana would dress as a boy and walk with her sister to a secret school for girls. About 100 students and a few teachers squeezed into a classroom to learn and teach. Everyone in the room knew their life was in danger just for being there.
This experience motivated Shabana to seek easier ways for Afghani girls to receive an education. While a student at Middlebury College, Shabana co-founded the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA). SOLA is dedicated to giving Afghan girls quality education. It serves as a boarding school for girls ages 11-19 of all ethnic backgrounds and religions. SOLA’s goal is to help graduates go on to study at universities worldwide and then return to Afghanistan to pursue meaningful careers. A recipient of the Davis Peace Prize as well as a global ambassador for Girl Rising, Shabana is truly a #ONEderWoman for the amazing strides she has taken in fighting for girls’ education.
Photo credit: TED
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