So, you've heard it's Fashion Revolution week. Whether you've been following the movement for years, or this is the first time you've heard of it; I'm here to tell you exactly why our fashion industry desperately needs a revolution.
This years Fashion Revolution Week is the 5 year anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse on April 24, 2013. The factory was filled with employees indirectly working for name brand fast-fashion and designer brands such as Wal Mart, The Children's Place, JC Penny, and Primark. The conditions in the factory were unsafe, and workers had asked not to return to work because of the clearly unsafe conditions. They were threatened and told that a month's pay would be withheld if they didn't return to work the next day. Later that day, many of the garment workers lost their lives as the unstable building crumbled under the weight of heavy machinery. Amidst the rubble, sewing machines, and clothing were 1,100 lifeless bodies, and 2,500 more with severe injuries.
This horrific accident brought some much needed publicity and awareness to the heinous working conditions many garment workers face in factories producing cheap "fast fashion" clothing. Influencers and brands banded together and started a Fashion Revolution- calling for our broken fashion system to be fixed.
Why we need a fashion revolution
1. We always want more- consumerism is at it's worst
Our consumeristic culture is a viscous cycle of wanting more for less. This has created a demand for more clothes like never before, which causes brands to turn to the cheapest possible means of production they can find. Many brands then choose to ignorantly turn their backs on the unjust and gruesome working conditions of these factories.
We own more than ever before, yet depression and anxiety are at an all time high. Minimalism is on the rise; as people begin to realize that getting back to the basics reduces the noise, and allows them to focus on what really matters.
2. Garment workers are being paid unfair wages.
While women are marching for the 20% American gender pay gap, there's about a 95% pay gap between them and the women who made the feminist slogan T-shirts they're sporting. I say this not to minimize the gender pay gap in Western culture, but to bring some light to the narrow-mindedness many of us can have in a culture where we have plenty of opportunity. We fight for justice for our own countries, but ignore the blaring injustices in developing countries while indirectly supporting them. The gap between women in Western cultures and women in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and so on is so large it's shocking (yes, even considering the difference in living expenses).
3. Unsafe working conditions
Garment factory accidents are common. Safety regulations go unmet, because there is no one to enforce them. Some brands attempt to enforce them by hiring third party auditing companies. This creates distance from the responsibility or knowledge of unsafe working conditions. Even if the third party auditor does enforce safety regulations, the factory will get into "top shape", only to diminish again once the auditor leaves. The women are told not to speak or be honest about their true working conditions.
Many factories outsource to women who make the clothing in their homes. Handiwork such as applying beads, sequins, and embroidery are often done in women's homes out in the rural country. These women's salaries aren't able to be tracked since they will do work at home for a fraction of what the factory workers are making (which is still under minimum wage).
4. The Fashion Industry is horrible for the environment
I'm not just talking about "save the trees" fluff here, I'm talking about hardcore pollution. The dyes and chemicals used to make garments often leak into the air and water supply of nearby villages. There are entire villages with staggeringly high numbers of members with disabled children, birth defects, and cancer due to extreme pollution of their air and drinking water. This article mentions H&M, Zara, and Marks and Spencer buying from highly polluted areas just last year.
What you can do to help
1. Write an e-mail to your favorite fashion brands asking where they make their clothes.
Seriously, just ask! Brands should be able to provide this information, but often times can't. They remove themselves as far as possible from where their clothes are actually made, so that the responsibility won't fall in them. But it should.
- Fashion Revolution provides e-mail templates you can send to your favorite fashion brands.
2. Go to local events in your city.
- Check out events near you on Fashion Revolution's website!
3. Post on Instagram, twitter, and facebook: #whomademyclothes?
Fashion Revolution encourages you to use your voice on social media to ask brands who made your clothes. Use and follow the hashtags #whomademyclothes and #fashionrevolution.
4. Support the brands that respond with #Imadeyourclothes.
Here's the good news, brands are responding! Many ethical and sustainable fashion brands can show you exactly who made their clothes and where they're being made. They can prove that their workers receive fair wages and work in safe conditions. Find, follow, and support these brands! Of course, following along with Style Me Fair will help you discover new brands every week!
- Check out my discount code page for a list of my favorite responsible ethical fashion brands!
- Sign up for my e-mail list at the bottom of this page to receive articles and information from me straight to your inbox every week!
Well, there you have it. The ugly reality of a consumeristic, destructive world. But here's the good news; I truly believe that we are the generation to create change. This is the generation that cares, that asks questions, that demands more than a pretty product; we demand a just product. If you want to take part in creating change, please spread the word! Share this article, post on social media, buy good clothes and tell your friends about it. Change is created when individuals demand more, band together, and take the world by storm.
This is #fashionrevolution
We are the change.