Here we are again, nearing the end of April which means that Fashion Revolution Week is almost upon us. Next week, April 23-29th is Fashion Revolution Week 2018, and I have been spending some time this week getting ready to take part in the event.
So, what exactly is Fashion Revolution Week? Well, it is a global movement which seeks to create transparency, sustainability and ethical standards within the fashion industry. The fashion industry is one with more than a few dirty secrets, and the Fashion Revolution organization works to generate awareness about the issues and injustices garment and textile workers around the world face. In their own words, “We want to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased, so that what the world wears has been made in a safe, clean and fair way.
Personally I never used to think much about where my clothes came from, or who made them- they just appeared at the store as far as I knew. Who spun the threads? Who dyed the fabric? Did the people who sewed them work in safe and responsible conditions? These were not questions that crossed my mind.
I thought that sweatshops and horrific tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911, were a thing of the past.
Fashion Revolution Week comes once a year, and falls around April 24th, which is the anniversary of the tragic 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Rana Plaza factory collapse, which is the largest and deadliest garment industry tragedy to date, resulted in 1,138 deaths (including both garment workers and rescuers) and injured over 2,500 people. Sadly, even though it is the largest tragedy, it was not the first to take place in recent history within the fashion industry, and it has not been the last either. There are many factories which are, quite simply, disasters waiting to happen. When word of the Rana Plaza building collapse hit the news, back in 2013, many consumers at the time, expressed outrage, claimed that the situation was terrible and shameful, and demanded transparency within the industry and improvements in the working conditions of the garment workers. But, like many other tragic news stories: people move on.
Fashion Revolution was created in order to keep the issues alive, to keep people aware of what is going on within the fashion industry, and to keep asking questions, and encouraging us, the consumers, to ask brands and retailers, “who made my clothes”?
The fashion industry is one that is not fully “automated”. Someone, somewhere in this world made the clothing on the rack at your local shop. Behind every t-shirt is a face- someone’s mother, or brother or sister; the t-shirt may have been sewn on a machine, but someone was running that machine, and feeding the fabric through it. There are an estimated, 60-70 million people worldwide who work in the garment and textile industries, and about 80% of those workers are female. Some of those workers are treated well and are paid a fair wage, but many are taken advantage of and mistreated. Fashion Revolution Week gives people an opportunity to ask questions about how are garments are being made, who made them and what conditions they made them in. And of course, the goal is to be a part of helping to create change for the lives of these workers.
So, this year, which is the 5th anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, there are several ways you can get involved to help to create change in the fashion industry.
The first way to be involved is to ask brands, “Who made my clothes?” You can do this by showing the label on your garment (like my picture above) and then asking the brand #whomademyclothes? You can also snap a picture of yourself holding this sign asking “Who made my clothes?” You can find the signs here. You can post your pictures to twitter, instagram or facebook. (I’ll be taking part on instagram.) Don’t forget to tag the brand in your post, so they’ll get the notification, and see your question! In 2017, the social media impact was huge, with 533 million impressions of posts using one of the Fashion Revolution hashtags during April. This was an increase of almost 250% from 2016, where there were 150 million! The movement is growing, and change is happening!
Fashion Revolution also has a template for writing a letter to a brand, in order to ask more directly, “who made my clothes”.
For other ideas on how to take part in the event this year, (last year there were over 2 million participants) there is a pdf created by Fashion Revolution, with more ideas, here. Also, check out to see if there is an event in your area, on their page here.
I am really excited for this years Fashion Revolution- because as each year passes, the event gets bigger and bigger- and even though at times it may seem like an uphill battle, I know that changes are taking place in the fashion industry, ethical fashion is becoming more and more available and some of the bigger fashion brands are starting to take transparency seriously. Little by little change is coming, and it’s so good to be a part of that, in my own small way. We can’t be responsible for the actions of others, but we can each take a bit more care in the fashion and purchasing choices that we make for ourselves. It’s so easy to snap a picture of your tag, right? I can’t wait to see what everyone is doing next week, and I hope you’ll join in the movement too!
Also, I’ve got a couple of ethical fashion posts lined up for next week, so check back!
Have you ever participated in or will you be participating this year in Fashion Revolution?