Fashion Revolution Anniversary puts the industry under the spotlight this week
On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. 1,138 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. That’s when the fashion revolution was born. There were five garment factories in Rana Plaza all manufacturing clothing for big global brands. The victims were mostly young women.The first step in transforming the fashion industry is asking a simple question to yourself: who made my clothes? The motive of this revolution is to ask brands ‘Who made my clothes’ and demand greater transparency in the fashion supply chain.
Now in it’s third year, Fashion Revolution Week remembers those that had their lives cut short in the name of fast fashion and works to improve the conditions and wages of the 75 million garment workers across the globe. Fashion Revolution was co-founded in London by fashion designers Orsola de Castro and Carry Somers. The movement has now spread to almost 100 countries. It has support from celebrities and big names in fashion including Stella McCartney, Lily Cole and Lauren Laverne – to name few. A few changes have been made since Rana Plaza collapsed in 24 April 2013.
Since then Modern Slavery Act has been passed in 2015 which requires UK companies with a turnover of more than 36 million pounds to publish an annual report in the steps they are taking to root out forced labor. More companies are also starting to publish their supplier lists. This transparency has given brands greater accountability which may lead to change.On average brands scored just 20 per cent transparency, and none scored above 50 per cent. Three brands, including luxury fashion brand Dior, scored zero as they disclose no information at all. That’s not to say these brands are necessarily doing anything wrong (or right), just that they’re not publicly accountable for the conditions of workers at each stage of the manufacturing process. Project Just and the Not My Style app are two companies providing consumers with practical advice about how to improve their buying habits. Londoners on tight budgets could swap clothes with friends or shop for second-hand items, because at least this means garments are being re-used rather than going to landfill.
But those who are unable to break the high-street habit, Emma Watson suggested to buy something if you can be sure you’ll wear it 30 times to help you buy less, and slow the fast-fashion cycle.
This week all shoppers are also being asked to take a picture of their labels and tweet or Instragram the brand asking #whomademyclothes? As celebrated fashion designer and co-founder of Fashion Revolution Orsola de Castro explains: “Transparency encourages scrutiny, vigilance and accountability. It’s like opening one’s front door and allowing others to look inside. And of course, the more doors are open, the more the picture becomes clearer, the better we can understand and ameliorate supply chain workers’ lives and the environment.”