Two blonde girls on a mission. Anne (23) and Elrike (26), real Dutchies and the initiators of Fair Friday. They are students, big chocolate lovers and they can talk for hours. Plus, they share a passion for equality and a world where people are valued for who they are and what they do. To make some noise they started a blog: Fair Friday. Sharing their journey towards buying more consciously.
They took off with some doubts: it seemed that if you didn’t want the story to be ugly, your clothes certainly would be — unless you were a millionaire. But they were determined. There had to be another way. Anne and Elrike were going for what seemed impossible: affordable, fashionable clothing with a fair backstory. And good news, after a long search they found many amazing brands who checked all our boxes. We asked them some questions about this journey!
You mention the malpractices in the fashion industry that caused you to make a change. Was there a specific moment or film or something that made you aware of this?
Yes, it actually was an accumulation. Through our (enormous) love for chocolate and our favorite chocolate brand, Tony Chocolonely, we were already aware of the problems in the cocoa industry, such as slavery and exploitation. In 2013, however, we discovered that these problems weren’t only in the cocoa-, but also in the fashion industry. In this year, now five years ago, a factory in Rana Plaza collapsed, killing 1134 employees. This made a big impression on us. We also saw the documentary 'The True Cost', what made us realize: Rana Plaza was not an example of an incident but a signal of a structural problem. Through this docu, we also became aware of the impact of our clothing on the environment. For example, that the water consumption of one pair of jeans is about the same as the drinking water of 1 person of about 10 years. So we could continue to close the tap while brushing our teeth, but then we knew how to really make a change!
What do you feel is the most important thing that needs to happen before people change their way of consuming?
We think that people first have to realize what is currently going on in the clothing industry. However, knowing only is not enough in most cases. A large part takes place on the other side of the world and the consequences are often only visible in the long-term. This makes it much more difficult to actually change your behavior. What helped us change were documentaries, inspirational brands and people; that says so much more than only facts. We also learned that we, as consumers, can really make a change. So here are some tips:
Must-see: The True Cost (available on Netflix), Chanel Trapman - Documentary The Positive Chain of Change & for the Dutchies the new series ‘Genaaid’ in which young designers see the circumstances of the people who make our clothes with their own eyes.
Must-eat: Tony’s Chocolonely ;)
What was remarkable in the journey towards a more sustainable life? Specific cool brands? Nice platforms you use?
Well, at first we got a little bit lost in the journey to a more sustainable life: it seemed that if you didn’t want the story to be ugly, your clothes certainly would be — unless you could afford the lifestyle of a millionaire. But we were determined; there had to be another way. We were going for the impossible: affordable, fashionable clothing with a fair and sustainable backstory. But after a long search we found many amazing brands who checked all our boxes. Like the American brand ‘the Reformation’ which shows that fair fashion can be very fashionable. Or the shoe brand Veja; a couple of our friends bought this without even knowing that it was fair and sustainable: how cool is that! This is also why we started Fair Friday: we want to help others in finding affordable, stylish fair fashion. Plus, inspire people to get a new perspective on fashion!
We celebrate ‘Credit the Heroes' this month crediting the people in Tunisia who make our jeans. Without them, no jeans, no impact. How do you inspire or motivate each other?
Elrike tells: “Our journey into buying fashion more consciously started two years ago. When we decided to change our buying behavior, Anne immediately stopped buying clothes which were not fairly made. When she is driven, she goes a 100% for it! My change was less radical, I still bought fast fashion once in a while. But Anne definitely inspired me to go for a bigger change! I love her enthusiasm, thoughtfulness and creativity. Anne stands for what she believes in, she is a visionair and she always motivates me to step out of my comfort zone and just go for it!” Anne continues: “Haha yes, I can be a quite radical sometimes. However, my strength is also my weakness. If you immediately want to do everything perfect, it can also be demotivating because it takes up too much time and energy. Elrike has helped me to see that change starts by taking small steps. So I stopped my crash diet in living a more sustainable lifestyle, to keep it up in the long term. Elrike also inspires me to value the journey itself, not only the outcome: the result is that we have much fun during our journey! Plus, she is the stylist of us two, she likes to discover the nicest brands and she makes really cool fashion combinations!”
"Anne she is a visionair,
she always motivates me to
step out of my comfort zone &
just go for it!"
Can you tell us your opinion on Fair Fashion, should it be normal that fashion is produced under fair circumstances?
Yes, definitely YES! We think that fair circumstances should be the base. When you think about it is actually ridiculous that there are so many people making our garments while suffering to do that. It must be possible in a humane and equal way. Most fair fashion brands have a smaller production chain, which makes it easier to be in contact with the craftsmen in the ateliers and to control the circumstances in factories. This is a bigger challenge for big fashion companies, as they have many factories to control and less transparency in their chain. But we believe it is definitely possible and these companies should do everything they could to strive for fair circumstances and pay a fair price to everyone in the chain of fashion production. With our blog, we hope to inspire people to love clothes while at the same time honouring and respecting the people who made it. So that, as the German philosopher Kant said, we will treat humanity always ‘…at the same time as an end, never merely as means.’
What are your dreams for the coming years, work and world related?
Well we have seen parts of our dreams come true, as we see that there is a growing movement of people who are longing for a positive change in the current fashion industry. Consumers are becoming more conscious and the market of fair and transparent fashion brands has increased! We are very happy to see new cool and innovative brands emerge. Those new innovations, like the laser and ozone techniques MUD uses to give jeans that washed effect, bring up new chances for a more sustainable production and in the end a healthier world! We hope that more people will become aware of the current malpractices in the fashion industry and are willing to change (and realize that their buying behavior can make a difference!). With our blog we hope to contribute to this change in a fun way. Because fashion should be something to enjoy for everyone! And maybe one day we'll start our own fair clothing label..