London-based designer Lena M Áine (also known as LeMÁine) creates clothes from sustainable materials resembling flesh and blood. These pieces are reflections of the exploitative and harmful labour practices that are employed by fast fashion labels. LeMÁine raises the public’s awareness of these often unnoticed bloody practices that have cost garment workers their lives through their fashion brand. It helps consumers to both appreciate their designs and make better choices when purchasing their clothes. This is why LeMÁine’s work is relevant to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Responsible Consumption and Production and Decent Work And Economic Growth.

’Gore-set’ - Extreme Gore Corset by LeMÁine. Image courtesy of LeMÁine’s website.

The issue LeMÁine’s pieces highlight is also featured in the 2020 Canadian horror comedy Slaxx. The Elza Kepahrt’s directed film has a rather silly premise, a pair of high-waisted jeans has been possessed by a vengeful soul. It proceeds to kill anyone who tries it on, going so far as to murder anyone who even dares to fold it. After an encounter with a kind-hearted shopkeeper, the soul in the jeans finally tells its story and chooses to heal. The high-waisted Jean was once a poor young woman who worked at a cotton farm in a developed country where labour laws do not guarantee underpaid workers’ health and safety on the job. A freak “accident” sent her hurling into a cotton processor machine, painting the fields red, yet after just a day, the exploitative practice continued as if nothing had happened.

Bloody Sleeve Suit Jacket by LeMÁine. Image courtesy of LeMÁine’s website.

Clean Clothes Campaign, a non-profit that advocates for worker’s rights in the global garment industry, reported that in 2021 alone, 240 workers died and over 800 were injured in garment industry incidents across Pakistan, China, India and other countries that are exploited for their cheap labour by big fast fashion brands. These are the real flesh and blood that have gone into making fast fashion clothes, a reality that LeMÁine’s pieces highlight.

Flesh Fashion Bralette - GORE by LeMÁine. Image courtesy of LeMÁine’s website.

LeMÁine’s pieces are entirely handmade by themselves from signature upcycled latex fabric that has been run through textile processes. Aside from its socio-political message, LeMÁine is also influenced by their love of graphic and horror imagery. This makes it a very effective conduit for the socio-political message they wish to convey. Horror and gore imageries tend to stand out, they shock a person’s senses and draws them into a conversation with the piece, showcasing LeMÁine’s ingenuity.

Flesh Tote Bag by LeMÁine. Image courtesy of LeMÁine’s website.

LeMÁine’s flesh fashion is a poignant critique of the exploitative labour practices in the fast fashion industry. Their innovative use of upcycled latex compels customers to confront the hidden human life cost in their clothing choice, all while also making sustainable practices. LeMÁine's pieces can also pressure other creators in the industry into rethinking their manufacturing habits. This move to a preference for ethics and sustainability will create a cleaner future for the fashion industry, one free from spilled human blood.

Find out more about LeMÁine’s Flesh Fashion and their other initiatives by checking their Instagram on @lemaine__.

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