On the 24th April 2013, the Rana Plaza factory – a major garment trading operation in Bangladesh stocking clothing for a number of Western retailers – collapsed, killing 1,138 people. It no longer became easy for the fashion industry to ignore the potential harm that it might be causing to its workers, as well as to the planet. Bangladesh has one of the largest garment industries in the world and in response to the tragedy, Fashion Revolution, a now-globally recognised organisation, was launched. Its mission was clear: to radically change the way that our clothes are sourced, produced and processed. Whilst this project is ongoing, the organisation increases its global activity during the week surrounding the anniversary of the event, with the schedule spanning everything from a live Fashion Question Time at the Houses of Parliament to social-friendly marketing around the hashtag #whomademyclothes.
The main event, London Sustainable Fashion Rooms, is set to take place in east London at the Old Truman Brewery, span 5 days and focus on ethical fashion. Attendees can expect free workshops on upcycling as well as industry talks and the chance to shop some of the world’s most ethical fashion labels. All profits will be donated to the National Garment Workers Federation in Bangladesh.
Activity elsewhere includes various ‘clothes swap events’ and ‘suitcases rummages’ where consumers are encouraged to revamp their new-season wardrobes with pre-loved garments in a bid to reduce waste. In support, London-based bag designer, Sophie Hulme is hosting The Project; a work in progress campaign with a focus on increased sustainability. The designer will create a capsule bags collection by reworking archive leather to craft eight signature silhouettes. The University of Portsmouth design students promise to reinvent your old garments by way of unique print application in exchange for a donation, and Kingston University will host former i-D Magazine fashion editor Caryn Franklin and womenswear fashion design graduate, Sadie Clayton, as they discuss diversity in the fashion industry.
Seminars and talks, from poetry readings to educational speeches, are scheduled in a host of major cities such as Hong Kong, Dubai, San Francisco and Melbourne (amongst others) in a bid to encourage us all to change our mindsets with regards to how we consume fashion. Already a major corporation and a statement in itself, Fashion Revolution believes there’s still a long way to go.
Fashion Revolution Week aside, what’s important to remember here is the continuous aspect of the organisation’s efforts and activity. Whilst the project’s aim is to ‘demand greater transparency from brands about their supply chain’ there’s also a huge focus being placed on awareness and a host of campaigns that we can advocate without showing face at the events. Simply turning your garments inside out and taking a photo of the label and brand name, or printing one of the #whomademyclothes posters, sharing these shots on social media and tagging your favourite retailers is an easy way to contribute, as is supporting new and emerging labels who keep ethics at the forefront of their business plan. Fashion Revolution puts the spotlight on such labels here.
You may also like: How Hong Kong is supporting Fashion Revolution Week.