Emma Watson Goes from Hogwarts to Bangladesh to Learn the Magic behind Ethical Fashion
Emma Watson, who has gained popularity with her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter series, recently visited Bachhara, an ethical clothing label, in Bangladesh. Since joining People Tree, a fair trade apparel company based out of the UK, as a creative advisor, Watson decided she wanted to experience first-hand how the materials used in her spring fashion line were created.
People Tree’s work is dedicated to help developing countries overcome poverty through the promotion of fair trade and sustainability. By paying higher prices for the locally grown textiles, fair trade companies help guarantee livable wages for workers in impoverished nations. Emma Watson remembers the first time that she heard about fair trade in a geography course-work project, and remembers thinking, ‘why isn't everything fair trade?’ She wanted to be able to help people to be able to support their families and live with dignity. The Ivy League model commented:
It’s such an influential industy, so I knew that trying to help people trying to alleviate poverty through a fashion line could work. Fashion is a great way to empower people and give them skills; rather than give cash to charity, you can help people by buying the clothes they make and supporting the things they take pride in. It’s that simple.
The young actress turned fashion expert had been planning on visiting Bangladesh for over a year. Finally, in July 2010, Emma was able to turn her dream into reality, and at her arrival, she realized that she wasn’t at Hogwarts anymore; naked children were playing football in the mud, inspiring Watson to deliver many gifts and food to the daycare centers and elementary schools. Emma commented:
When I was handing out gifts to children at school, many of them didn’t say, ‘thank you,’ but simply smiled at me. Their smiles come from the heart, not from the mouth. And in our country, a lot of people say, ‘thank you,’ from the mouth, but not from the heart. When I see those meaningful smiles, I want to come back here again.
The workers of Khanapa Soyaloj Development Society helped Emma learn how to color threads, cut the material, and finally sew them together by machine. All grown-up Hermione finally was able to gain insight on the slow-process fashion that allows her own collection to be sustainable. Instead of seeing only the London-inspired garments as final products, she was able to see vests, soft t-shirt dresses, linen pieces and scarves through the whole process, and as a means to produce fashion ethically.
Emma Watson stated, “I think young people like me are becoming increasingly aware of the humanitarian issues surrounding fast fashion and want to make good choices but there aren't many options out there.