On 24th April it will be the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza Factory disaster, in which 1138 garment workers were killed when their unsafe factory collapsed. Many more were injured and countless lives were affected.
This disaster triggered a huge response from consumers and from the fashion industry. Fashion Revolution was set up by leading fashionistas Carrie Somers and Orsola de Castro to call for justice for garment workers and transparency from clothing brands. Fashion Revolution has become a movement – this year over 1000 events will be run worldwide during Fashion Revolution week 2018 from April 22nd – 29th.
Why Do We Need A Fashion Revolution?
Fashion has changed dramatically over the last half century – from people making their own clothes or buying high couture pieces to our current ‘fast fashion’ model. Increasingly people felt able to buy ‘off the peg’ and were encouraged to be on trend, buying new outfits each season. Brands were set up to create increasingly cheaper lines, while pushing back on their suppliers on price. Prices of clothes in the UK are pretty much the same now as they were in the 1980s!
Unfortunately the effect on the suppliers was to cut wages, working conditions and even safety for garment workers, 80% of whom are women. There is plenty of evidence of slavery, child labour and danger in the fashion industry – including the Rana Plaza disaster which we commemorate with Fashion Revolution week.
This change in shopping habits has also led to a massive over production of clothing but little consideration for what happens to it when we finish with it. Clothing has been exported to developing countries, often causing problems for their own garment industries. The materials used to make cheap clothing are generally mixed fibres or plastic and so very difficult to recycle and so they end up in landfill.
Where Does It Come From? and Fashion Revolution
Where Does It Come From? is an ethusiastic supporter of Fashion Revolution. Our core values of trade justice and transparency align completely and so we have been very active, even being part of the Fashion Revolution India team for a time.
In 2016 during Fashion Revolution week we travelled to India to visit our supply chain there and gave presentations on Fashion Revolution to local fashion students and media. We also captured images of workers who make our clothes holding the ‘I Made Your Clothes sign’. When we returned we organised a showing of The True Cost Movie and panel session in collaboration with the Ipswich Fairtrade Group. You can read about the event in our article Thoughts on our True Cost Movie Event on April 25th.
In 2017 we collaborated with other ethical fashion brands to produce a video to show customers that there are clothing brands who already CAN tell you who made their clothes…
This year we are going live! Our event Ethical Brands for Fashion Revolution is taking place on 28th April at The Museum of Brands in London. We’re bringing together ethical clothing brands for a fantastic day which will include expert panel sessions and a fashion show. Free tickets are available at our Eventbrite link.
We’ve also written articles on Fashion Revolution – discussing subjects such as Fashion Revolution – Encouraging children to ask ‘Who Made My Clothes?’
Fashion Revolution Week – What Can You Do?
The most important thing to do during Fashion Revolution week is to ask your brands ‘Who Made My Clothes?’. You can do this by Social Media and make it public! Often people take a selfie with their garment label showing too. Brands who can reply to this question have the opportunity for some excellent public relations so don’t be afraid to put them on the spot.
More generally we need to buy less and, when we do buy, we need to shop thoughtfully – what are our clothes made of, what is their impact on people and planet, how much use they are going to get, and how we are going to dispose of them.
People are becoming increasingly aware of how we affect the planet, wildlife and other people just by how we live – take the current hot topic of plastic waste – so we know that raising these issues works. We CAN make a change, just by asking questions and voting with our purse. Bring on the Fashion Revolution!