Growing up as Asian-American woman in the United States, I would read books and watch movies not seeing a single face that looked like me. It was the same in the fashion magazines that I loved. Though these magazines were targeted to young women, none of them felt like they were talking to me. I suppose that’s what inspired me to grow up wanting to be a storyteller, so I could help uplift the voices of girls who grew up like me.
Today, I work as a writer and fashion journalist in Paris, France. My job helps me to understand that the way we dress is also a way for us to tell our stories. After all, our clothes have the power to communicate who we are before we even say a word.
When I began to learn more about the inner workings of the fashion industry, I realized that most of the people who make our clothes are women. 75 million people in the world are garment workers, and 80% of them are women between the ages of 18-34, women whose voices are disempowered every day on the factory floor. What’s more, many of these women are based in Asia, in places like Cambodia, Bangladesh, China, and the Philippines, where I was born.
It’s crazy to think that though I didn’t see many Asian faces in fashion magazines growing up, Asian women have actually been some of the largest forces powering the industry as the makers of our clothes.
This is the reason why I resonated with Remake’s mission to turn fashion into a force for good by telling the stories of women in the supply chain. Through films like “Made in Cambodia” and “Made in Pakistan”, Remake shares the challenges that women garment makers go through everyday. While we women in the West fight for equal pay, freedom from sexual harassment, and women’s empowerment, our sisters are fighting the same fight on the factor floor. This is why sustainable fashion in indeed, a feminist issue.
As a Remake Ambassador, I serve as the Humans of Fashion Correspondent for Paris Fashion Week, where I interview designers, models, celebrities, and everyday shoppers on what they think or know about sustainable fashion. It’s a way for us to keep our ears to the ground about the priorities of the industry, on and off the runway. I also represent Remake as a speaker and workshop facilitator, where I educate fashion students and professionals on how to connect the dots between women’s empowerment and sustainable fashion.
My hope is that more people will begin thinking about the human hands that make our clothes, and to remember that they are women just like us, dreaming big dreams and aspiring for a better future.
So today, I hope you’ll join the sustainable fashion movement by buying less and buying better. Instead of buying clothes that you’ll easily forget about, choose those that you can commit to wearing at least 30 times. Choose pieces that tell a meaningful story. My dress, made by Anthill, is special to me because it was made by Filipina artisans who are preserving traditional weaving traditions through modern fashion. It represents my style, my heritage and my values.
I encourage you to love your clothes like good friends, and to wear your values on your sleeve. Changing your relationship with clothes is a way to empower women around the world. Will you join me?