Whether you’ve been wearing your sweats or garbed up in your partner’s favorite shirt during this whole quarantine stagnation, your getup was still made by someone, somewhere. Do you know the story behind your threads? Have you any idea where they were produced or who made them?
It’s Fashion Revolution Week once again. A fashion activism movement launched in response to the Rana Plaza factory collapse where over 1,100 garment workers were killed and more than 2,500 were injured, the campaign celebrates its 8th anniversary. And it’s getting bigger, louder and gaining more traction with more people participating each year demanding a safe, just, transparent and accountable fashion industry.
The industry’s impact on human lives, communities and the environment have been the subject of many fashion books, podcasts and documentaries over the last several years; the eye-opening 2015 documentary film The True Cost which went on to be released on popular streaming service Netflix brought more awareness to the issues behind the glitz and glam of the fashion industry.
And with COVID-19 revealing how fragile the fashion industry is, with a drop in global customer demand and sales prompting brand’s to cancel orders and leaving manufacturers no choice but to let of of workers, many sent home without being paid what they’re owed.
There is a whole fashion world of exploitation, pollution and and human rights violations that is laid bare if you choose to look beyond that cute, cheap frock. Want to build a better fashion world? Demand transparency from your favorite fashion brands. Ask them uncomfortable questions. Make them accountable by continuing to pursue them until you get a response. When reaching out to them, keep this year’s Fashion Revolution theme in mind: Rights. Relationships. Revolution.
Here are three questions you should be asking clothing brands during this Fashion Revolution Week:
Who made my clothes?
Modern slavery, forced labor, gender inequality and exploitation are just some of the problems within the global rag trade– problems kept hidden behind stylish fashion shoots and glossy advertising. When the Rana Plaza building collapsed, it sent shockwaves across the world and for many, this event also marked the first time they actually stopped to consider the people behind the clothing they buy.
Fast forward to today, and as the industry suffers a collapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has left millions of garment workers, home workers and backend laborers without jobs and no income to support their families. A high percentage of this workforce is female.
So asking fashion brands “who made your clothes?” is a call for them to operate responsibly and ethically. To consider the humans behind the garments. This simple question challenges them to create solutions that will go a long way to improving the lives of garment workers.
This simple question put forward on social media (and tagging the brand in so as to make them accountable!) is the beginning of a cultural shift where we view clothing not in isolation, but in relationship: with ourselves, with the makers, with the brands and with suppliers.
Who made my fabric?
The transparency we demand from fashion brands shouldn’t just stop with know who the garment workers are. This Fashion Revolution Week, you should also ask “who made my fabric?” to initiate a discussion around the sourcing of fabrics and yarns and the people who grew, spun or wove them.
By asking this simple question, exploitative working conditions may be uncovered, and so to the ways in which the brand will solve the problem.
By asking “who made my fabric?”, every worker in the supply chain, from the farmers to the spinners, weavers, dyers, finishers are being made visible and humanized.
What’s in my clothes?
From synthetic fibres such as polyester shedding microfibres into the oceans to huge amounts of chemical dyes leaching into rivers and waterways, consumers are waking up to the environmental impacts of the fashion industry and are seeking out brands that are committed to planet-friendly fabrics and processes.
The industry, however, is known for being incredibly opaque when it comes providing detailed information about the raw materials, fabric sourcing and processes involved. Increased awareness of ‘greenwashing’ means shoppers are no longer content to take the garment label at face value and are demanding more transparency from brands about what was really involved in producing the materials.
So make sure to ask your favourite labels “what’s in my clothes?” and keep that conversation going. There should be no more excuses to continuing ‘business as usual’ and contributing to numerous environmental issues such as deforestation, water pollution, biodiversity loss and waste.
Furthermore, as a conscious consumer, you have the right to know what’s in your clothes. You have the right to get what you are paying for. If you are purchasing an item that says it is made from natural fiber, you deserve to have exactly that. If you care about human rights and expect ethical treatment of workers in the supply chain, that’s what you should be pushing for. So, get involved, post a photo on social media wearing your favorite top or item of clothing, tag the brands behind those items and ask those questions!
Let’s make this the biggest Fashion Revolution Week yet!
Enjoyed this post? Share with your networks or save on Pinterest!
- How to Be a Fashion Activist During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- #PayUp Pressure Pays Off: Brands Commit to Paying Billions to Garment Factories
- 8 Ethical Fashion Brands Celebrating Diversity, Inclusivity and Body Positivity
- 6 Brands Making Ethical and Sustainable Robes and Bathrobes
- Top 10 Films and Documentaries on the Subject of Fairtrade
- 3 Ways to Embrace Unbusyness and Live a Greener, Intentional Life
- The Petition Making Everlane Accountable to its ‘Radical Transparency’ Brand Philosophy
Cover image via Fashion Revolution.