who: Causes For Concern is a group of students at Mount Pearl Senior High School, located in the city of Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, Canada, concerned with social justice and environmental issues. The student organisation aims to build a strong community and encourages participation within it in order to create awareness through the information highway.
concerned catwalk: in 2001, the Causes for Concern group organised a provocative fashion show, focusing on sweatshop activities behind internationally renowned brands. The presentation wanted to make the audience aware of the surprisingly large number of sweatshops that are in operation and the terrible conditions that the workers must deal with. The students’ action was based on coherent and strong principles: “We are not asking to boycott the products shown here today. In fact, most sweatshop workers would not want you to boycott their goods, for however terrible their working conditions might be, they can’t afford to loose their jobs. They want us to do two things. First, an awareness of the indignity and unfairness of their working lives - and that is what this fashion show is about. Secondly, they would like our support in their struggle to improve their wages and working conditions.”
behind the scene: the organisation of the event involved the entire student and teacher community. The school's “Economie du Canada” and “Histoire Mondiale” classes worked together to research information on sweatshops and the brand names or chain stores associated with sweatshops. Students from other classes such as the “Theatre Arts” class helped through rehearsals, and members of the school’s “Mt. Pearl Show Choir” provided the musical interlude.
this show must go on: the fashion show was introduced by Bill Hynes, spokesperson for OXFAM, who presented an overview of sweatshop abuses, focusing upon the idea that consumers are not always aware of where our clothing is made and by whom.
Models started to routine on stage: Nike, Northern Reflections, Wal-Mart, Reitmans, Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger, Disney and Gap.
“Lastly here come Crystal, Mark, and Zoey showing off their outfits from the Gap. Crystal is wearing a sizzling hot pink long sleeved shirt and a grey knee-length skirt with floral embroidery.(…)”, announced the first speaker, followed by a second voice who replied by providing full information on each company’s behaviour in terms of ethical conduct. For instance: “Among other places the Gap operates in El Salvador, where young women work up to 18-hour shifts for 49 cents per hour. These women are often abused when they don’t make their production quotas. Women have been forced to take contraceptives, and should they become pregnant they are fired. The Gap agreed to accept independent monitoring of their code of conduct at one El Salvadoran factory, but has refused to permit independent monitoring of any of their other supply factories in the world (…)”.