This week is Fashion Revolution Week 2017, the latest edition of a global campaign calling for revolutionary change in the fashion industry, including more transparency in the supply chain and less environmentally-damaging production practices. Right now, wherever you are in the world, you too can get involved.
The Fashion Revolution campaign started in 2013 after the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh.
Our appetite for fashion seems to be growing, with a 2016 report from McKinsey & Company alleging that clothing production is now more than double what it was in the year 2000. Conventional manufacturing processes are incredibly resource-intensive, with an estimated 20,000 litres of water needed to produce a kilo of clothing, not to mention the environmental pollution that comes from chemical dyes, and the pesticides used in growing non-organic cotton. And on top of all that, there's the social impact, with low wages and dangerous, exploitative practices rife within foreign textile factories where clothes are made for leading brands.
Yesterday was the four-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, when an eight-story commercial building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,129 people, injuring thousands more and traumatising countless others. It's thought to be the deadliest garment-factory disaster in history. The tragic eventinspired the creation of Fashion Revolution Day (which became a whole week in 2016), as a way of trying to extract something positive from the tragedy, to highlight the human rights abuses prevalent in the garment industry and to commemorate those who lost their lives, while at the same time reaching out to manufacturers and brands and demanding a positive change.
A Call For Transparency: #whomademyclothes
One of the main tenets of the Fashion Revolution movement is a social media campaign that asks people to turn their clothing inside out to show the label, take a photo of it and then get in contact with that brand online using the hashtag #whomademyclothes. Rather than being a name and shame campaign, the idea is to start a positive conversation, highlight ethical and sustainable practices and raise public consciousness around consumption.
And thanks to Facebook and Twitter, nowadays consumers literally are able to reach out and contact leading brands, demanding transparency and the right to know about the realities of the industry. It might not be possible to reverse our hunger for quick, cheap fashion, but by letting brands know that you care, you might be able to encourage them to open up about their practices and boycott subcontractors that don't meet the mark.
Want to know the truth behind your outfit? Contact the brand using the hashtag #whomademyclothes?
Other Ways to Get Involved
Visit the official Fashion Revolution website to access a whole range of resources and to make a voluntary donation to a very worthy campaign. Other ideas they suggest on how to get involved include:
Downloading their How to be a Fashion Revolutionary booklet- full of information on how to use your voice and power to change the fashion industry, all year round.
Telling a fashion love story - rather than buying something new, rediscover an old piece of clothing that's still important to you, fall in love with it again and honour it in a letter or video blog.
Checking out their #Haulternative: a guide for fashion lovers - ideas on how to freshen up your style without buying new stuff.
Writing an old fashioned letter or postcard to a brand asking #whomademyclothes? The site features both a postcard and a letter template you can download for free and use.
A highlight of the 2015 campaign was their award winning "2 Euro T Shirt Social Experiment" video, filmed live at Berlin's Alexanderplatz. Two years later, and its message is no less relevant. You can check it out below.