"We carry the stories of the people who make our clothes around with us." - Ali Hewson, Edun
Amongst all the criticism and debate dedicated toward fast fashion, one thing is certain business is booming – particularly amongst the online players with the power they wield over their supply chain, impressive distribution capabilities, and expert manipulation of digital media and celebrity culture.
However, what were once rumours, regarding questionable ethics and labour abuses deep down at factory level, became fact after the 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza and the devastating images of crushed bodies trapped beneath rubble that circulated the world in the immediate aftermath.
It’s without doubt that the tragic news brought to light the unsafe conditions and low pay garment workers have to suffer as a result of our wardrobe whims. And not only did the revelations fuel an international conversation around the social impact of fashion, but they also brought about Fashion Revolution, a non-profit organisation committed to enacting real change. Yet five years on, fast fashion is more popular than it’s ever been and people are still suffering as a result of the way fashion is made. So why has nothing much improved?
I’m ashamed to say that even as someone who runs a sustainable fashion business, it’s all too easy to get sucked back into the relentless trend-led cycles set by the 12,000-new-styles-per year Zara’s of our world. And in doing so, forget that these clothes are all made by someone, somewhere, and that person has a right to a decent wage and safe working conditions.
But with the world waking up to the inequalities within the fashion industry, and social media revolutionising how we interact with brands, the customer has never been better equipped to effect change.
And that’s exactly why Fashion Revolution’s #whomademyclothes conversation, which runs for the entirety of this week, is such an important campaign to get behind. By questioning where our clothes come from and asking the brands direct, we send a powerful collective message about the need for greater transparency and accountability, whilst at the same time reminding ourselves of the human story stitched into every item we own.
So how to get involved? Fashion Revolution is all about wanting us to find out, be curious, and take part in this global movement to bring about new systems that don’t harm the environment or rely on human exploitation for financial growth. And it’s a movement that we’re 100% behind, so our suggestions would be…
- take a picture of your favourite piece of clothing and ask the brand direct #whomademyclothes either via social media, email or letter (you can tell I’m a child of the 80s).
- Swing by our pop-up at the Hoxton Hotel this Wednesday, we’ll have a carefully curated edit of mindfully made pieces from brands we believe in.
- Check out the Fashion Revolution facebook page for events you can get involved in over the week.
- Ask more questions when it comes to choosing the clothes you buy.
- Download the Wardrobe Crisis podcast hosted by Clare Press, Vogue Australia’s Sustainability editor-at-large. Each episode offers a fascinating new insight into the complex issues surrounding the fashion industry.
By directly asking the brands where our clothes are coming from, we send a very powerful collective message about the need for greater transparency and accountability
Ten seasons have passed in the course of running The Keep, yet for every piece sold I’m certain we could still tell you the journey it took to get to our rails. For us, knowing that all our brands can positively tell us where their production takes place; what guidelines are in place to protect the workforce; the frequency of factory audits; and what methods they use to reduce their environmental footprint, has resulted in very personal ties to the designers we work with. I can’t emphasise enough how much joy there is to be gained in knowing exactly #whomademyclothes.
Previous posts on Fashion Revolution that you might be interested in:
Fashion Question Time: what progress has been made to improve the plight of marginalized garment workers around the worldIndex