Stitch for Change: Uniting for Fair Fashion

By Mwangala Matakala

On a bright Friday in Vancouver, Oxfam Canada joined forces with youth-led organizations, Threading Change, Remake, and Stand.Earth, to organize the Stitch for Change Challenge. Our mission? To highlight the urgent need for transparency in the fashion industry. 

As the sun rose in the crisp blue sky after a week of rain and clouds, our dedicated volunteers and campaigners gathered at the iconic Aritzia flagship store on Robson Street. Dressed in our unmistakable “Reveal the Chain” t-shirts, we carried sewing kits, brochures, and an unwavering determination for economic fairness.

We kicked off the day with a clear sense of purpose. Stitching is, after all, an act of creation and connection, and we were here to connect the stories of the women who make clothes for top Canadian brands like Aritzia, Herschel, Joe Fresh, Lululemon, and Roots with the people who wear them. 

Watch a video of our Stich for Change event in Vancouver on September 29, 2023

Secrecy in Numbers 

The garment industry is a lot more opaque than any of these brands let on, with major fashion brands outsourcing their production and often not disclosing their supply chain information. This lack of transparency restricts consumers’ knowledge about where and how garments are made and the wages paid to workers. 

Aritzia maintains an opaque sourcing system with no public information on who their suppliers are. Why is Aritzia keeping its supply chain and factory list such a big secret?

Nirvana Mujtaba, Women’s rights policy specialist, Oxfam Canada

The answer is in the numbers. In Asia, the women who make our clothes earn as little as $4-11 per day. The top executives of Canadian fashion brands? Over $27,000 per day. It takes a Cambodian garment worker over 100 years to earn what Aritzia’s CEO, Jennifer Wong, makes in just one month!

And so, the message we’re sending out with Stitch for Change is clear: it’s high time for transparency and fair wages.

The What She Makes Stitch for Change Challenge in Vancouver
Stitch for Change Challenge in Vancouver

Final Stitches and Future Threads

As the sun went down, we completed our final stitches of the day, but the thread of change we’ve woven continues to grow. The Stitch for Change Challenge in Vancouver vividly illustrated the power of unified voices.

Mwangala Matakala, Oxfam Canada campaigner for What She Makes
Mwangala Matakala, Oxfam Canada campaigner for What She Makes

What began as an idea has transformed into a movement driven by individuals who care, demand transparency, and believe that every stitch in a piece of clothing should be a stitch in the fabric of a fair and just fashion industry.

The Stitch for Change Challenge was a snapshot capturing what it means to stand up for what’s right. But our journey continues. The online petition remains live until November 10, 2023, and our determination to Reveal The Chain remains unshaken.

Please sign it here, and don’t forget to share it with your networks!

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who joined us on this journey and those who continue to do so. I look forward to a future where every stitch represents progress, every signature represents hope, and every garment worker is afforded a life of dignity and fairness. Together, we stitch for change.