On the one side, you have labels creating t-shirts heralding the age of feminism but are fundamentally at odds since the very t-shirt is highly likely to have been made by a woman working within the garment industry, who is receiving far below a living wage and working in far from ideal surroundings. This is before you even consider the environmental impact of creating that t-shirt.
Unfortunately, the same can be said for charity t-shirts. As recently as January of this year, it was revealed that Spice Girls T-shirts sold to raise money for Comic Relief’s “gender justice” campaign were made at a factory in Bangladesh where women earn the equivalent of 35p an hour during shifts in which they claim to be verbally abused and harassed, a Guardian investigation had found. The charity tops, bearing the message “#IWannaBeASpiceGirl”, were produced by mostly female machinists who said they were forced to work up to 16 hours a day, receiving far below a living wage and called “daughters of prostitutes” by managers for not hitting targets.
As a result, brands and charities alike need to be incredibly mindful about how their t-shirts come to being.
A positive example of this is the new collaboration between Save The Children and ALEXACHUNG. Save the Children Ambassador Poppy Delevingne has put forward her long-time party pal Alex Chung to collaborate on a line of T-shirts to celebrate Save The Children’s 100-year anniversary and the launch of the charity’s Stop the War on Children campaign. Thirty per cent of the profits generated from the Tees, which cost £25 and £15 for the children’s versions, will go directly to Save the Children.
“Having visited many Save The Children programmes over the past four years, I’ve met with some of the most inspiring and amazing children who, despite adversity and conflict, have not only survived to tell their stories but are now thriving and full of hope for a better future,” Delevingne said about her ambassadorial role. “It’s because of these children and their daily fight that Alexa and I wanted to create something that would help make a change and encourage people to do something good.”
Image courtesy: Save The Children
Working with Teemill, the t-shirts are made from only traceable GOTS certified organic cotton, the factories are SA8000 Certified (Social Accountability audit) and throughout their supply chain renewable energy is used. The t-shirts are then printed in real-time in the UK in a renewable energy-powered factory. This means products are only made after they have been ordered, thus ensuring no waste and only use plastic-free packaging.
What’s more, every product is designed to be sent back to Teemill when it is worn out. Since all products and packaging are made from natural materials, not plastic, products can be returned and remade again and again and again.
The t-shirts come in navy, white and a limited-edition run of canary yellow, and feature an illustration of a crescent moon face alongside the words “The Future is Now”. “To me [the moon] symbolises children’s dreams, hopes and the promise of a new day,” Chung explained. “Sadly, not all children have the chance to enjoy such innocent childhoods as millions are battling through conflicts started by adults. But they should, and we need to fight for their futures and help them fulfil their potential by ensuring all children are off limits in war.”
Save the Children is calling on the UK Government to create a plan to protect children – the ‘Protection of Civilians Strategy’. Together we can send a message to the world: Children are the future. And the future is worth fighting for. Join the fight to make children off-limits in war. Buy your t-shirt now and sign the petition here.
More sustainable supply chains are only possible when conscientious shoppers buy the products they want to see in the world.
Shop the T-shirts at Savethechildrenstore.com and wear and share them on social media using @SaveChildrenUK #Stopthewaronchildren