Remembering Rana Plaza: Why we are “Fashion Revolutionaries”

Outside the Talon company in the city of Sialkot in northeastern Pakistan.

NEWS – 22. to 28. April our sneakers took a back seat. Instead, we’re focusing on Fashion Revolution Week. In commemoration of the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building six years ago, we want you to meet the people behind our products as a symbol of our appreciation for them, and a reminder that it’s not machines that do the most important work on the clothes and shoes we wear. It’s people.

People like Mehmood, Muhammad and Mudasar, employees of the Talon firm in Sialkot, Pakistan, who work with their teams producing Ethletic sneakers.

Mehmood, aged 46, has worked at Talon since 2008 in the company’s “Finishing & Packaging” department. This means that he is involved in the final work done on the shoes and is one of the last people to handle your sneakers at the factory.

45-year old Muhammad has been at Talon for 12 years. He supervises the “Stitching” department and all the employees who do the stitching on the shoes.

Mudasar also began at Talon in 2007. As the “Chief Cutter” Mudasar oversees the cutting of the fabric for the shoes.

 

These three men and all their other workmates apply their knowledge, experience and skills to bringing a high-quality, competitive product to market. And we are very grateful indeed for this.

“Let’s start a Fashion Revolution” is the guiding principle of “FashRev Week”. Why are we right out front on this, and proudly so? Three reasons.

1. We don’t regard the people who work for Ethletic as “cost factors”. They are human beings, each with their own story and face.

We have known many of the employees for years who work in our production facility in Sialkot, Pakistan. Ethletic chief Marc Solterbeck and designer Johanna Balzer visit the factory every couple of months. And there is so much more that binds us rather than separating us. This is at the core of our project for establishing fair and equal treatment across all borders and differences.

“We all have dreams, we all want our families to prosper, we all want medical care when we’re ill”,

says Marc Solterbeck. Fashion companies shouldn’t simply pay “lip service” to these basic human rights, they should actively support them.

2. Humanity is more important for us than profit.

Everything we do springs from our desire to offer an ethical alternative. Our project began as an attempt to set new standards in the football manufacturing industry – humane standards. And Ethletic achieved this with the world’s first football manufactured in Fairtrade working conditions. We want to offer consumers a product with a guarantee that no one suffered manufacturing it; a product that the people who made it also profit from fairly.

For us this means more than just having the Fairtrade seal; it also means directly supporting the Worker’s Welfare Society at our factory in Sialkot so that the concerns of the employees and their families can also be financed directly. One dollar per pair of shoes sold goes straight into the society’s fund. And you’d be surprised how much good can be done with that dollar.

3. We’re open to new ideas.

“We can do more” is the attitude we maintain toward always making Ethletic fairer, so we’re curious and open-minded about new ideas. We love cooperative arrangements, because we can achieve so much more together with others than on our own. This is the spirit we want to spread around the world. So when the start-up tip me approached us a few years ago, our ears perked up immediately. A tip that can go directly from Ethletic customers to the individual employee in Pakistan? That would be great! This is the vision of the tip me founders:

“We want to fill globalization with empathy, transparency and fairness with a direct connection between the consumer and the manufacturer that enriches the world for both parties.”

And now the time has come! Right on time for Fashion Revolution Week tip me is running a pilot project in the German cities of Cologne and Berlin to collect the first tips to go to our employees in Sialkot. This is yet another step in the right direction, and we’re looking forward to your feedback.

One thing is for sure: We will only achieve this kind of revolution by consolidating our efforts. And we already know that we can count on you!

You are Fashion Revolution, and we thank you sincerely for this, dear Fair Family!!

Your Ethletic Team

Fashion Revolution Week – Click here for all the info on how you can get involved and participate.


Photos: Azar Aslan
Text: Annika Langhagel
Translation: John Jeffrey Collier
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