This week is Fashion Revolution Week all across the globe and there’s events in Brighton celebrating and encouraging a new direction of manufacturing and consumerism. Fashion is often seen for all of the glitz and glamour that’s associated with high-end and couture designers but the reality is often the exact opposite of all that lures people in. With the rise of individuality and an innate need to ‘be different’, the demand for new and ‘cool’ clothing has sky-rocketed since the introduction of sweat shops into the mainstream production of clothing. On the surface it’s great that one can walk on to the high street and have such a plethora of choice in how to express themselves but underneath the ever-changing seasonal and off-season clothing is a dark history and one that has to change. On 24th of April 2013 in Bangladesh, the Rana Plaza collapsed. This was the direct impact of a capitalist system pushing people to work in sub-human conditions for the sake of having all -new clothing on the shelves of fast-fashion outlets. 1,138 people died in the collapse and 2,500 people more were injured. There were five garment factories in the Rana Plaza complex who all manufactured clothing for large well-known global brands. It was after this horrifying disaster that Fashion Revolution was born.
There are approximately 75 million people across the globe who make clothes for the predominantly western and European markets. 80% of these people are young women between the ages of 18 and 35. Futhermore, a truly shocking statistic shows that the women and sweatshop workers of Bangladesh often earn just $0.13 every hour which means it takes 70+ hours of work every week to earn the weekly average pay of the country . Now consider the cotton farmers, spinners, weavers, dyers and sewers that your £5 jumper goes through the hands of before it reaches you. The company is still making a profit from each item of clothing and if that item of clothing is cheap, it can almost be guaranteed there has been some level of inequality and insufficient payment in the means of production. Fashion Revolution want to shake up the game. Their brand-new manifesto marked the beginning of this year’s Fashion Revolution Week. In it they detail their key steps for change, they say “we love fashion. But we don’t want our clothes to exploit people or destroy our planet. We demand radical, revolutionary change”.
In the ten point Fashion Revolution plan they highlight the need for dignified work, ensuring that each item from “conception to catwalk” does not “enslave, endanger, exploit, overwork, harass, abuse or discriminate”; the need for equal pay, which “enriches the livelihood of everyone working across the industry”; the importance of giving people a voice, in part so people can “negotiate for better conditions at work and across communities”; the respect of heritage and culture, so that “fashion never appropriates without giving due credit”; standing for solidarity; conservation and restoration of the environment, to ensure the protection of “all living things and safeguards our diverse ecosystems”; the reparation, recycling and up cycling of clothes to prevent “wardrobes and landfills overflowing with clothes that were coveted and not cherished, bought but not kept”; to encourage transparency within the industry; warranting less financial pressure to disable the need for quick and fast fashion and finally, that fashion “never subjugates, denigrates, degrades, marginalises or compromises.”
This year Fashion Revolution are encouraging you to ask #whomademyclothes. They want you to ask brands, ask your friends, ask instagram or ask anyone you can, in an attempt to gain more ownership and responsibility of how we, the public, are mindlessly feeding into an issue we may not even know exists. Fashion Revolution has more information that we could possibly condense into one article so if this subject has perked your interest check out their website for more reasons why they started, details on the global campaign and much more.
So…you’ve read the somewhat brief intro into what Fashion Revolution Week is about and where, why and how it started. This year Revival Collective are hosting events to “celebrate ethical and sustainable fashion, and help raise awareness of the ethical issues and lack of transparency within the fashion industry”. If you would like to get involved the following events are happening across the city this week (each is linked to a Facebook event page for more information):
28th – Youth Revolution: Street Art – Studio45 – 12pm onwards
We highly recommend you check out what’s going on this week. If Fashion Revolution succeed in all of their aims, the entire industry and the welfare of millions of people will change. Join the revolution and demand a better world.