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LONDON – For our last magazine of 2020, we have an exclusive interview with Ayesha Barenblat, founder of Remake World and brains behind the trailblazing #PayUp campaign. As brands cancelled billions of dollars’ worth of orders during the coronavirus pandemic, Barenblat and her team were instrumental in publicly pressuring them into paying what they owed to suppliers.

Remake has helped suppliers claw back tens of billions of dollars from brands – prompting U-Turns from the likes of Gap, Asos, C&A and Primark and showing the power of grassroots activism.

“People told us in the early days we would be foolish to chase brands,” Barenblat tells us. “But it turned out that even a brand like Gap paid up eventually. This was about months and months of campaigning and pressuring brands. We have never been ashamed to name and shame brands. This is not something they will do from the goodness of their heart.”

Remake has achieved remarkable things, without taking money from the industry – and this really is key. Few other NGOs could have taken such a hard-line tack with brands over cancelled orders, for fear of biting the hand of the industry that (in many cases) feeds them.

Remake is, in that sense, an outlier. “We take no money from the fashion industry,” Barenblat tells me. “There is so much ‘pay to play’ in the industry. In our early days we took money from a couple of corporate foundations, but we quickly realised that was untenable. Being funded by industry muzzles accountability.”

You can read the full interview in the next issue of Apparel Insider. This issue also incudes our special paper on the work of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in Brazil.

Brazil, BCI’s number one source of cotton, has characteristics that make it neither “more sustainable,” “better,” or “preferred,” claims the report from Veronica Bates Kassatly.

The paper says: “BCI Brazilian cotton comes almost entirely from huge farms, owned by soy billionaires and other members of the Brazilian elite, and may be tainted with corruption, necropolitics, and illegal deforestation. Moreover, Brazil, despite accounting for just 5 percent of the world cotton area and 11 percent of world production in 2019/20, also accounted for about 25 per cent of all pesticides used on global cotton.”

All this and much, much more, can be found in the November-December edition of Apparel Insider.

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