Another Fashion Week has come and gone! From April 22nd to April 28th, it was Fashion Revolution Week and during this week, we asked fashion brands one burning question: who made my clothes?
Six years ago, on April 24th, 2013, the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1135 people and causing over 2500 causalities. It soon became obvious that many Western clothing brands used this unsafe factory to produce its products. The collapse turned out to be the tip of the iceberg: it soon became apparent that many garment factories were unsafe, workers were severely underpaid, and child labor and environmental pollution were rampant. The world finally saw the dark side of the ‘glamorous’ fashion industry.
Consumers demand answers, and the team behind the Fashion Revolution Week created the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes. Joining is easy: post a picture, tag the fashion brand and use the hashtag. The hashtag has had effect: over a 100.000 consumers asked who made their clothes, and 3600 producers responded with the tag #IMadeYourClothes.
Due to this public pressure, the government of Bangladesh increased the minimum wages for garment industry workers with 77% to $68 per month. Large brands and retailers have signed ACT* to accomplish a living wage for their workers, along with collective labor agreements.
Despite this progress, the fashion industry knows many more wrongdoings. 20% of the water pollution world wide is caused by the fashion industry. SOMO, an organization that investigates multinationals and the impact of their activities on people and the environment, reported in February 2017 about wrongdoings in the textile sector in Myanmar. Six years after Rana Plaza, we still need a fashion revolution.
What can you do to accelerate the fashion revolution? First of, you can demand answers by asking your favorite brands who made your clothes, by using the #WhoMadeMyClothes hashtag. Second, buy second-hand clothes or swap the items you don’t wear anymore on swap parties. Third, you can borrow clothes from an online borrowing platform like Borrow A Brand, where several fashion brands offer their products for rent. Last, if you really want to buy something new, steer away from fast fashion and shop at more conscious brands.
Check the Fashion Revolution website (https://www.fashionrevolution.org/europe/netherlands/) for more background, stories, and inspiration on how to help this good cause!
What do you think of this initiative? Do you think this is the way to change the fashion industry? Let us know in the comments!