Who Made Your Clothes? Why You Should Take Part In Fashion Revolution Week
This year marks the 6th anniversary of Fashion Revolution week. But, what is it exactly and why should you get involved? Whether you need a quick recap or you’re a complete beginner, here’s what you need to know.
What is Fashion Revolution Week?
On the 24th of April 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed killing more than 1,138 workers and injuring a further 2,500 people. This building was one of five factories in Rana Plaza which manufactured clothes for some of the world’s biggest brands, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history.
Every year on the week of the anniversary of the disaster, Fashion Revolution Week encourages greater transparency from brands regarding their ethics, supply chain, sustainability and manufacturing policies.
Why does it matter?
Do you care about who made your clothes?
Do you care about the people who made them and the conditions that they’re living and working in?
Do you care about what the big, global fashion brands are doing to the planet?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then this is why Fashion Revolution week is important. It’s all about greater transparency and the idea that brands need to be held accountable if we are ever going to prevent another disaster like Rana Plaza happening again.
The reality is that it’s often the poorest, most overworked and underpaid people being exploited. Many workers who make clothes for some of the world’s biggest brands live and work in poverty and are unable to afford the basic necessities they need to live.
In addition, the fashion industry is also contributing to another major problem; the environment. Did you know that the textiles industry is the second biggest polluting industry after oil? The total greenhouse gas emissions from textile production currently stands at 1.2 billion tonnes annually and this is more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping combined, says the journal Nature Climate Change.
These statistics show that something needs to change.
How can you get involved?
As part of Fashion Revolution week, you have the opportunity to use your power as a consumer to demand greater change from your favourite brands.
Since Fashion Revolution Week began, people from all over the world have used their voices to get in touch with brands to demand fair and safe conditions for their workers, decent pay, protection and equality.
To get involved, share a picture of an item of clothing that you’d like to learn more about on social media. Show off your label and tag the brand who made it and include the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes?
Last year 3.25 million people took part in Fashion Revolution week and asked #WhoMadeMyClothes? Alternatively, you could use the template letter that Fashion Revolution has provided to get in touch with your favourite brand to encourage more information to be shared about their supply chain. You can simply re-post the letter onto your own social media, making sure to tag the brand you’d like to know more about, or you could email it to them directly.
The key here is to ask all the questions you’d like the brand to answer. Let them know why you’d like to learn more and why it’s important to you, their customer.
People need a reason to change and it’s no different for the world’s leading fashion brands. Simply calling brands out on it isn’t enough, they need to know that as a customer you won’t be shopping with them again until they’ve made significant changes and bigger commitments to their workers AND the planet.
What can I do going forward?
If after reading this you decide that you no longer feel comfortable supporting fast fashion and Fashion Revolution Week has made you re-think shopping altogether, then there are a few things you can do.
First of all, be conscious about who you’re buying from going forward. There are loads of fantastic resources available to help you evaluate the sustainability of a brand.
For example, you can download Good on You – a helpful app for your phone which allows you to compare brands based on their ethics and sustainability, which are given a ranking out of five. In addition, you can check out rankabrand.com which gives brands a ‘report card’ based on factors such as climate change, carbon emissions, their environmental policy and labour conditions.
Secondly, be mindful about how much you buy. Fast fashion has created this idea that we need to constantly buy into new trends and styles and that being caught wearing the same outfit multiple times is something we should feel embarrassed about.
This mindset is exactly what fuels global brands into churning out more and more clothes at an unsustainable rate. Instead, be mindful about what you buy and who you’re buying from. Before you buy something, ask yourself “do I really need this?”. If you do, try and check out some of the more ethical brands out there, such as People Tree. The key is to shop less and shop better!
Lastly, abstaining from buying new clothes completely and shopping second-hand is another effective way of limiting your involvement with fast fashion and is something I talk about a lot on my blog and over on my Instagram.
Try looking in your local charity shops or on online marketplaces such as eBay and Depop – plus you’ll probably pick up a really good bargain! Similarly, repairing and re-using what you already own is another great habit to get into. So many clothes end up thrown away simply because they become broken or ripped in some way. Nine times out of ten, these can be fixed at home with a needle and thread – if not, re-use it into something else.