Toronto, Canada: Towards the end of last year, I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at World Ethical Apparel Rountable (WEAR) in Toronto. Hosted by Fashion Takes Action, it brings together industry experts and and is North America’s only convention focused on creating change in the textile and apparel industry.
The WEAR sustainable fashion conference offered me an incredible opportunity to be part of important conversations regarding how the fashion industry is changing. It gave me hope to learn how big brands are implementing sustainable practices in their production models, how they’re creating and disposing of materials, and reducing waste.
If you’re reading this post, I assume you’re also conscious of the serious social and environmental consequences of the fashion industry, and why it’s imperative that the industry take action now.
During the panel talks and workshops however, I also noted what was being reiterated over and over again: that much of the responsibility for change falls to the end consumer. Although the big brands play a crucial role in changing the industry for the better, we consumers also have a role to play in that it’s our demands and shopping choices that make all the difference.
Applying your fashion knowledge and getting your voice heard.
It’s easy to read and educate yourself on these topics, but what exactly do we do once we are have gained the knowledge? How can we put this information into meaningful action that is really going to create long lasting change?
One way to create lasting impact and influence government policy is through protest demonstrations and marches. Sometimes, however, even peaceful protests can go sour, and can result in conflict and violence.
Through my teaching experience with Fashion Takes Action, I have learned so much about what it means to be an active fashion citizen who takes leadership on tackling these world issues. Here are three peaceful ways to stand up for what you believe in and get your voice heard:
1. Curiosity is key. The more questions you ask, the better.
The next time you go shopping, try being a curious shopper and consider the story behind the product. If there is no information in the store or market about where the item is made or any signage that shares the details of its origin story, why not ask someone who works there? You can ask about the materials, the people who made the garments, its country of manufacture etc. Even if the retail assistant doesn’t know the answer, at the very least, by asking questions you’ll have gotten them curious enough to learn the answer for themselves and this may influence them to question whether the answers fit in with their ethics. What this action also does, is signal to the manager and business owner that customers are actually interested in knowing the answers to these questions and this may propel them to make better buying choices and demand transparency from their suppliers.
2. Don’t just learn, share what you learn!
Whenever you read a sustainable fashion article that resonates with you, learn a fact or piece of data about ethical fashion that blows your mind or a fashion book that propels new insights, why not share this on social media and spread the word? If you really want to influence people to better shopping habits, be a thoughtful influencer!
Another great way to pass on the knowledge is to consciously share what you learn with your group of friends, family, networks and communities. The quickest way to help put these ‘ethical fashion issues on the radar’ for others, is to seek their opinions too. Why not try asking them about how they feel, what they think could be done to speed up positive change? This way, you can engage in meaningful conversations, strengthen your relationship and maybe even learn better ways to communicate these issues.
3. Demand transparency.
The internet has never made it more easy to reach out to brands and businesses. Social media should be an essential tool in your fashion activism. If you’re keen to learn where a brand manufactures its clothing, whether it complies with fair labour practices, or why their prices are so cheap, just send the brand a message on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Better yet, why not write a thoughtful email to your favourite brand politely asking for more information about their supply chain processes, whether they have workplace code of conducts and how they monitor compliance. This is by far my favorite way to create fashion change because it’s more personal, and is such an honest and authentic way to be heard.
Not sure how to write an email letter to a brand? Check out this actual email letter that I used in my journey to seek more transparency from a particular fashion brand.
- 32 Thought-Provoking Quotes About Ethical, Sustainable and Fast Fashion
- 40 Inspiring Quotes About Climate Change, Sustainable Living and Our Natural Environment
- Get Educated With These Free Sustainable Fashion and Ethical Business Online Courses
- Has Globalisation Ruined the Fashion Industry?
- The Sustainable Fashion Blueprint Report 2018: Industry Overview and Business Opportunities