Fashion Revolution Week: what it is and five ways to get involved
Exactly five years ago, the question who makes the clothes we wear became from a matter of curiosity to a very urgent issue. On April 24th 2013, in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed, killing more than 1300 people that were making clothes for major western brands, leaving hundreds more injured. The heart-breaking disaster has since become a sign of global inequality and has sparked demands for greater transparency and safety in the fashion industry supply chain. This tragedy is also what motivated Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro, co-founders of Fashion Revolution, to take instant action. Their movement has grown into the largest initiative for ethical and sustainable fashion, with more than two-and-a-half million people having taken part in Fashion Revolution week last year. In more than 100 countries people asked the question “Who made my clothes?” on social media and followed or took part in talks, film screenings and events on the subject.
The campaign is simple. It urges fashion brands to take responsibility for their production and show greater transparency in their supply chain. The lack of ownership of the factories producing the clothing is one of the main issues that has led to the current state of unfair and unsafe working conditions in the fashion industry. When brands do not own the production and often do not keep track of their long and complicated value chain, it is very hard to keep them accountable for the safety and well-being of their garment workers. Therefore, practices such as mistreatment and suppressing of workers, adapting residential buildings with lack of protective equipment and outdated wiring into factories are common in the largest clothing-producing countries in the world. Thus, Fashion Revolution is asking one simple question: "Who made my clothes?"
This Fashion Revolution week, here are five simple ways how you can get involved and contribute to greater transparency in the fashion industry:
1. Ask "Who made my clothes?"
It is as simple as that. It has never been easier for your voice to be heard by using social media. Take a picture of your favourite piece, tag the brand and ask #whomademyclothes. The more we ask, the more the industry will listen.
2. Take an alternative
There are so many fun ways to update your wardrobe without actually shopping for new clothes. For example, checking your local vintage store. One of my favourites in Vienna and currently conveniently located just across the street is Bootik 54, which is full of pretty reworked vintage Levi's jeans, shorts and skirts. Extra points: at the next brunch, organise a swapping party. The rules are simple - everybody brings three pieces of clothing and is not allowed to go home with the same pieces they brought.
3. Buy less, choose well, make it last
The last few decades have been marked by a rise in consumer culture that has had an immense impact on the way we live. This culture of frequent trendy and cheap, mostly emotional purchases comes at an environmental and human cost - fashion is as of today the second most polluting industry in the world after oil. This scary statistic can be changed, and each small step counts. Here is a beginning - when you see an item you'd like to buy, leave it, give it 24 hours and come back if you still think you need it. Extra points: love your clothes. When you lose a button, sew it back. When it breaks, mend it. Also if you haven't, you can check out the movie The True Cost, showing the reality of the fashion industry supply chain. This movie pretty much changed my life forever. Also, this 3-minute-short movie Loved Clothes Last, directed by Balthazar Klarwein, who has worked with Mario Testino.
4. Shop for ethics and sustainability
In recent years so many fashion startups have emerged, that approach the business of fashion in an ethical and sustainable way, ensuring fare wages and safe working conditions for their markers while also minimising the environmental impact of their business. Nevertheless, gone are the times when sustainable and ethical fashion was basic and boring. Seek out brands that create beautiful clothing while being dedicated to ethical and sustainable practices.
5. Sign the Fashion Revolution Manifesto
The Fashion Revolution manifesto is a statement by designers, producers, makers, workers and consumers that believe that fashion does not need to exploit workers and destroy the planet and therefore demand a radical, revolutionary change of the industry. By signing the Manifesto on their website you can declare your wish to support this vision for a better industry, make it even stronger and share it with others.