April 24 is globally recognised as Fashion Revolution Day, in memory of the victims of the Rana Plaza tragedy. Exactly two years ago on this day at least 1,133 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Aside from a few shouts and murmurs, that hasn’t drastically altered the fashion supply chains. Fashion Revolution Day is an effort to make enough noise about it, so that consumers are more connected and aware of where and how clothes are made.
Canada-based designer Laura Siegel’s documentary is a step in that direction. She collaborated with director – and fellow Parsons graduate – Jennifer Sharpe to make Traceable, a documentary which follows her month-long journey through India as she works on her Fall/Winter 2013 collection using ethical and transparent practices. You watch her grapple with logistical problems and deadlines as she shuttles across Kutch, Jaipur, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Kerala, before ultimately taking her collection to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, New York.
That’s where you see her encounter a whole new set of challenges as she tries to win the attention of buyers and retailers, in order to finance and sustain her next collection. (Spoiler alert: the line was picked up by Holt Renfrew, under their H Project, an in-store shop that supports different cultures and crafts from around the world.)
We caught up with Siegel to chat about the documentary and her journey:
When did you come to work on the documentary?
“I came up with the idea together with director Jenn Sharpe, a good friend, back in 2012. We both felt that individuals needed to feel connected to the people making their clothes. We filmed in 2013, and are finally starting to show it in film festivals, screenings and on television.
We met while students at Parsons, and collaborated then on a film/fashion project focused on a Brooklyn-based artisan who handmade violins. Based on that, and both of our separate thesis projects and my brand, it was a natural evolution for us to work on this.”
What prompted you to focus on the artisans?
“They are the core of our industry, and most people don’t see that part of the process. The level of skill and time that goes into each piece is not really shown at the retail level, so we wanted to highlight how much an impact each garment has on a human’s life.”
How does your label continue to support them, and put them in the spotlight?
“Our main goal is always to give more work to artisans, always seek out talent and continue to collaborate. It is always nice when we are able to share an individual artisan’s story through images, which we are hoping to do more of in the coming year through a new blog we are starting up.”
How are you planning to release it?
“It is making the festival circuit now and screening all over the place. Today it is airing on Canadian television on 4 channels (MTV, E!, Bravo, and M3) and it will be airing in the US on June 24, on Pivot (as recently announced by Style.com).”