Jeremy Corbyn MP appeared at The University of Manchester on September 22 as he announced the Right to Clothing campaign alongside the affordable clothing charity Sharewear.
The campaign aims to tackle the issue of clothing waste and deprivation, with a particular focus on school uniforms. Sharewear’s Founder and CEO, Dr Louise Cooke, who also spoke, claimed the “lack of access to affordable clothing locks people out of their own lives.”
The charity asks schools to control clothing prices to make good-quality uniforms more affordable, ensuring people can afford the clothes needed to access jobs and education. Surveys show the average UK school uniform costs £101.19 per pupil, with prices reaching over £300 in some regions.
Mr Corbyn commented “school uniforms can be a complete rip off … some of the academy chains make a minor change in the uniform every year … it’s crazy.” The former Labour Leader called for uniforms to be made “much cheaper”.
The event called attention to how lack of access to suitable clothing has a significant effect on people’s position in society as it can prevent people from working, attending job interviews, and limits access to education.
Mr Corbyn highlighted how fast-fashion can contribute to clothing inequality, stating “Primark produces such low-quality stuff that they know you’re going to be back in six months or six weeks to buy the same thing”.
The Right to Clothing campaign is also supported by Dr Luke Graham, a Lecturer in Public Law and Human Rights at The University of Manchester. When asked about how students could get involved in the campaign, Dr Graham suggested a student-led organisation or society aimed at providing accessible clothing for those who need it would have a great impact on the community.
Tom, a current University of Manchester student and former Sharewear volunteer, now supports the campaign from Manchester. He called for “not only an end to clothing being wasted .. but also making sure that that clothing goes into the hands of people that need it.”
The campaign also seeks to form solidarity with workers throughout the global supply chain as, Dr Graham claims, companies in the UK often exploit workers from the global south. The campaign will be working with communities in Myanmar and Bangladesh to enforce international labour laws.