• Fashion

Who made your clothes?

The evolution of Fashion Revolution Week

By Valentina Zarew

Fashion Revolution Week is a movement that encapsulates all our hopes for a post-COVID, ethically and environmentally focussed world. It should be acknowledged by every industry and every citizen and become part of the fabric of the way we are in the world.

It’s a movement that began in 2013 in the wake of Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza disaster, which killed 1132 garment workers and injured more than 2500, and has grown into the world’s largest fashion activism movement. It has mobilised citizens, industry and policymakers through research, education and advocacy.

This year, the theme #MoneyFashionPower aims to build on the knowledge that the mainstream fashion industry relies on exploitation of labour and natural resources in order to flourish.

“As we enter our 9th year, we will go back to our core, exposing the profound inequities and social and environmental abuses in the fashion supply chains. From the uneven distribution of profits, to overproduced, easily discarded fashion, to the imbalances of power that negate inclusion,” says Orsola de Castro, Co-founder and Global Creative Director, Fashion Revolution.

“On the other hand, inspiring new designers, thinkers and professionals all over the world are challenging the system with solutions and alternative models. Fashion Revolution Week is all of this, scrutinising and celebrating fashion, globally and locally, wherever you are.”

Cutting through the marketing spin of mainstream fashion brands is hugely challenging, which is why the release of international human rights’s group Walk Free‘s independent assessment of 100 leading fashion companies in Australia and the UK is so powerful.

It found:

  • Fashion companies in Australia and the UK are not being transparent about modern slavery in their businesses (despite being required to do so)
  • Workers who make the clothes (predominately women) are being ignored by not being acknowledged in reporting
  • In many cases non-luxury brands outperformed luxury fashion houses

The question is then, as consumers of fashion, what can we do?

It’s up to us to continue challenging ourselves each time we purchase a garment, question like, have I read the label, do I know where it was made, do I love it enough to have it repaired. We still need to be asking our favourite brands who makes their clothes.

 

 

Nobody Denim

Nobody Denim’s 2021 support of Fashion Revolution Week

Supporting Fashion Revolution Week all year 

When milling through the racks of our favourite stores not many of us automatically draw the connection between the garment and the land used to produce the seed (cotton) and the plant (viscose); but we should. 

The choice that we have as everyday citizens, whether engaged in this movement directly or not, is an investment into the type of fashion industry we want to see. One that is fair, equal and empowering – it’s also a vote for the type of agricultural system we support. It’s knowing that whether it’s organic, biodynamic or regenerative nearly every piece of (natural) clothing you choose – supports a farmer. 

The conversation around food and agriculture is (hopefully) something that has crossed your mind. Is my lettuce/cabbage/apple grown without the use of pesticides? Is it organic? Is it biodynamic? Is it regenerative? These are all questions we ask of our food sources, but what of the fashion industry? An industry that is worth over $406 billion with the power to influence the future of what our agricultural industry looks like. 

The basic laws of economics (one of my favourite subjects) is based on supply and demand. We have been in constant demand of the earth – nature, and its wondrous resources. Soil, air, water – however there has been so much take and not enough give – so what does that do? It throws the balance completely out of whack. As a global community we have experienced the turmoil of this imbalance through the effects of climate change and yet we ask, why are we here, and what can we do? We need to acknowledge that we aren’t separate from our living environment, we are nature.

We can start to ask #whomademyfabric? Is it a farmer that is empowered (this is important, let’s send a message to brands that we care about how our fibres are grown and pay them for their efforts) to deliver on organic, biodynamic, regenerative farming practice? Practices that support and cultivate a future that does not ‘take’ from the land, but that replenishes the ecosystem as a whole and supports human rights. 

On this Earth Day and Fashion Revolution Week, look at the tag of your favourite garment, identify what it is made from. Is it made from a natural resource? If so – is it certified organic (protecting the land and people), is it Fairtrade certified (protecting the land and people)? If not, ask the brand #whomademyfabric and demand an answer.

Valentina is a sustainability expert, with among other accreditations a certificate of sustainability from the University of Bath. She is focussed on working with the brands of the future to help shape their strategy, sustainability framework, stories and partnerships. You can connect with her at valentina@newromantic.com.au, or follow her on Instagram.  @valya___z

Love her work? You can support her here.

 

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