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Cottons Hidden Voices: Stories from the makers of your clothes


Cotton Hidden Stories is a University of Leeds and Goa Institute of Management project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/W006936/1).

The project explores the complexity of sustainable and fashion from the perspective of the workers who make the clothes we wear.

These clothes create intimate connections between consumers and the 400 million workers in the fashion industry’s global supply chains. But these connections are hidden from view because the supply chains are so complex and opaque. As a result, discussions about sustainable fashion often fail to explore and be inclusive of the workers’ perspectives; workers who grow the cotton, spin the yarns, make and dye fabrics, and sew our clothes.

This project aims to illuminate these connections and to cross the geographical and cultural divide between textile workers in India and UK consumers, to facilitate debates and discussions about what sustainable fashion means for UK consumers and for workers in the supply chain. Through collaboration with workers in India, the project has created visual, audio, written and digital content that brings their hidden voices to the sustainability debate. These human stories will help consumers, educators, designers and policy makers to broaden their understanding of sustainability and to improve their knowledge and awareness of the global fashion industry.

The project has been developed to reflect the importance of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly:

  • SDG 5 Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

This project builds on research outputs from the AHRC funded project 'Impact of Covid-19 on management to eradicate modern slavery from global supply chains' (AH/V009206/1).