This Sunday marks Fashion Revolution Day. Any one can take part. All you need to do is ask one simple question: ‘Who made my clothes?’
Fashion Revolution Day and Week was founded by people within the fashion industry in response to the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 24 April 2013. 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured in one of the worst industrial accidents to hit the garment industry. Fashion Revolution seeks to harness the power of fashion and consumer choice ‘to change the story for the people who make the world’s clothes’. Organisations in over 80s countries, including New Zealand, have joined the initiative.
‘Whether you are someone who buys and wears fashion (that’s pretty much everyone) or you work in the industry along the supply chain somewhere or if you’re a policymaker who can have an impact on legal requirements, you are accountable for the impact fashion has on people’s lives. Our vision is a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure’. Sarah Ditty, Fashion Revolution
At a consumer level, the people behind Fashion Revolution are asking us to be more thoughtful shoppers, and to use our power as consumers to influence the choices of our favourite brands and retailers when it comes to sourcing labour and raw and processed materials. They are encouraging us to:
Be Curious – ask about how our clothes are made and who made them
Find out – contact brands and ask them #whomademyclothes to discover the real people throughout the supply chain
Do something – harness the power of fashion and consumer power to inspire change.
For more information on Fashion Revolution and how to get involved visit their website or follow them on Twitter. If you are interested in exploring the complexity of the issues surrounding the clothing industry more deeply, I can recommend To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? (2011) by Lucy Siegle. Just be prewarned it is not a cheerful weekend read! While the book is deeply depressing, Siegle, who is also involved in Fashion Revolution, offers helpful questions and guidelines to empower the reader to become a thoughtful fashion consumer.
An app for ethical shopping?
To make thoughtful fashion consumption less confusing, Bec McMaster of Sustainable Projects, a Dunedin-based social enterprise, has just launched a campaign to bring an ethical fashion app to New Zealand. The Good On You shopping app, which was developed in Australia, features ratings for almost 1000 fashion and accessory brands in Australia, and rates them on their impact on people, the planet and animals. The New Zealand version would include ratings for 350 local brands. You can read more information about how the app and ratings works on their website. If this is an app that you would like to see available in New Zealand you can support their Pledge Me campaign or attend a fundraising screening of the documentary The True Cost next month.
Collecting sustainable fashion
At Te Papa, we are collecting garments that demonstrate different local design responses to the current ethical and environmental issues within the textile and clothing industries. Over the next couple of months, I will post a series of blogs on these different design solutions, and also delve further into Te Papa’s rich historical dress collection, to explore how similar issues were confronted in the past (or not), and what useful solutions might be found in past practices.