As the three-day ‘Fashion Pakistan Week Winter Festive 2016’ ended last week with all its glitz and glamour, showcasing the latest bridal and luxury collections of the best upcoming fashion designers of Pakistan , little do we notice the gross lack of compassion and consideration for thousands of garment workers who break their backs at hazardous textile factories, skilled artisans who remain unrewarded for their hard work and small scale framers who remain unequally paid for the raw material they produce which are made into overpriced rags that is much cherished and sought after by fashionistas of Pakistan .
To highlight the need to push forward for social responsibility in the fashion industry an artists' talk was held on 5th November 2016 at T2F (formerly The Second Floor) by Goethe-Institut Pakistan , the Lahore Biennale Foundation, Vasl and other partners as part of a yearlong project called, “Urbanities – art and public space in Pakistan " showcasing the work of its residents aiming to create critical discussion about urban art and its role in the public space of Pakistan especially Karachi and Lahore.
Miro Craemer one of the key speaker at the event happens to be a German fashion artist and social designer selected by an international jury at Vasl Artists' Collective in Karachi to collaborate and present an artistic research project, which is seeking to highlight the Baldia factory ﬁre incident of 2012 by translating the personal tragedies, saving the traditional handcrafts and creating social awareness of the tragedy into an artwork.
As the world globalizes further so does the emergence of critical issues like climate change, child labor, gender inequality, corruption and hazardous work environment concerns more consumers especially concerning them about the source of the goods they buy and the impact they’ve on the environment and its people.
Baldia fire incident points out to the urgent need of accessing Pakistan’s industrial safety and labor laws in Pakistan which because of corruption and weak institutions has been dismantled into oblivion. According to Miro, “The social reality of people in general even in Germany is to buy cheap this is the very reason that has fueled industrial disasters like the Baldia Town factory fire which resulted in the deaths of around 289 people. We only had numbers but now we’ve names, we’ve stories of the mothers , the sons and the husbands lost to this dreadful fire.”
“We only had numbers but now we’ve names, we’ve stories of the mothers, the sons and the husbands lost to this dreadful fire.”
It was shared that one of the main contractors for the demolished garment factory ‘Ali Enterprise’ was the German Textile company KiK which after 4 years of vigorous and lengthy legal proceedings in the lower courts as well as Sindh High courts led by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER)and other labour supporting organizations decided to pay a settlement of around USD 5.15 million in compensation to the families of those who perished in the factory fires.
According to Miro, “I am on a mission to find emotions and connect people to collaborate and create change. In Germany all the news about Pakistan isn’t good, but as a social designer I am surprised to meet people of Pakistan who are as passionate and vocal about social issues which matter. For me fashion is a universal language; it's a transformation of ideas and experiments into something beautiful. Everyone is an artist if we engage people to bring out their creativity and help them collaborate the outcome would be unknown and great”.
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