Ayesha Barenblat’s Remake champions the rights of women who make fashion possible
In an industry consumed with the latest trends and an increasing push for clothing to appear within top retailers at a record-breaking pace, fashion is missing a vital element amongst the madness; the importance of fostering human connection. “When we know the stories, we can use our collective voice and shopping dollars to improve and shape the lives of people who make our clothes,” states Remake founder Ayesha Barenblat. Conceived as a fashion non-profit celebrating the empowerment of women, Remake is committed to, “building a conscious consumer movement,” that spans far beyond any new style.
With over ten years of experience in human rights relating to the fashion industry, Barenblat has worked with companies such as BSR and Better Works honing her perception on how fashion can be created from a socially conscious standpoint. In asking herself important questions relating to her experiences, Barenblat began to wonder, “how could we as a planet drive human rights and conscious fashion inside mainstream brands?” With this realization in mind, Barenblat wants fashion to, “slow down and be more conscious that a seat at the table is missing,” regarding the oversight of women producing clothing in factories. Barenblat also stated that as a society, “we send market signals every single day, on whether we trap a generation of women who are our age into a life of poverty, or we give these same women a chance at a better life.” Understanding this knowledge, Barenblat wanted to create an “inspirational movement for millennial women,” that recognizes every aspect of the fashion supply chain, through valuing the women who make it all possible.
Remake’s movement also lends itself to exploring different methods to finding sustainable brands that are stylish, yet socially conscious. With the introduction of the Capsule Collection, Remake extensively scans “products against rigorous criteria, developed by fashion and sustainability experts.” Featuring brands such as Reformation, Patagonia, and Nisolo, the Capsule Collection is a timeless curation of style essentials inspiring consumers to shop smarter, while receiving valuable information relating to the creation of their favorite pieces.
“How can we as a planet drive human rights and conscious fashion inside mainstream brands?”
“One of the things that is really core to our brand is to come from a place of inspiration,” states Barenblat. In understanding this purpose, Remake is using their platform as a starting point for conversations relating to the preservation of our world’s resources and the people who work tirelessly within the fashion industry. Serving as a vessel for positive change, Remake orchestrates trips that allow designers to visit maker communities, where designers can build lasting connections with the women that produce their product. In this genuine gesture, designers are deeply inspired by their exchanges with the communities. Through these interactions, many designers’ newfound views manifest into a stronger awareness of the garments they produce throughout their careers.
In Remake’s most recent trip, the non-profit partnered with Levi Strauss to fly three Parson design students to Cambodia to see garment factory conditions within the country first-hand. Through these personal experiences captured in Remake’s documentary Made in Cambodia, the students were given the chance to see many of the factories their future designs have the potential to be made in. Spending time with the women one-on-one, “the designers saw how they could design with intention, and really cut down on environmental waste.” Hearing the stories of the women also left the designers with a feeling that they could “create clothes that truly thought about female empowerment,” in a much more personal and global manner. Having this awareness allowed the students to understand that many of the necessities they took for granted in the United States were mere luxuries to the women in the makers’ communities.
A specific instance of this was present in the experience of one student, Allison Griffins who was asked by an audience member at a film screening what was a profound moment that shaped her time in Cambodia. As a fashion designer and journalist, Allie was deeply moved by her interaction with one of the women she met during her time in the makers’ community. In getting the opportunity to visit the woman’s home and spend time with her family, Allie learned that the woman had been a part of the makers’ community since she was fifteen years old. Now in her early forties, the woman had a family of her own and continues to be directly affected by the wage fluctuation seen as an effect of the grueling new fashion cycles. Through hearing how far the woman’s wages could support her family and visually seeing the size of the woman’s home, the reality was heartbreaking to say the least. The conclusion of this exchange with the woman, showed Allie as a designer and young woman, the profound impact she had entering the fashion industry as a new designer. This concept was incredibly eye opening and gave Allie a greater passion to pursue a career that is mindful of the effect her work has on the women she visited. By “really putting ourselves in their shoes,” and asking the questions of “where does she eat, where does she sleep, how does she live?” Barenblat believes that as an industry we have the power to bring this knowledge to the forefront of our perspective work places as tools to bridging the gap between fashion insiders and the women who create fashion on a large scale.
With passion that captivated my attention from the moment she answered my call, I was greatly inspired by Barenblat’s desire to continue to see the unlocked potential Remake has within the fashion industry. In explaining her long-term goals for the non-profit, Barenblat aims “to keep the great designers that are to come thinking about the women who make our clothes.” Barenblat also feels that “thinking about our planet and designing with more consciousness,” is the first step to making the world a better place for our present and impending future.