This month marks the fifth anniversary of the staggeringly successful global movement Fashion Revolution.
It’s a story of campaigning triumph for more transparency in the fashion supply chain, one that has reached millions of people and spread across more than 100 countries across the world.
However, it also marks the fifth anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, which killed 1,138 garment factory workers and injured a further 2,500 people, on 24th April 2013.
The collapse shed a spotlight on to the appalling conditions so many of our clothes are made in and spurred fashionstas into action.
WHAT IS FASHION REVOLUTION?
A global movement demanding better conditions for garment workers across the globe, starting with more transparency of the fashion supply chain. This is why you will be seeing #whomademyclothes selfies – tagging all kinds of brands – across your Twitter and Instagram feeds.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS?
Around 75 million people, predominantly women, work in fashion and textiles across the globe. IndustriALL Global Union report that 90 per cent of these workers have no possibility of negotiating their wages or conditions. Many workers at the bottom of the chain are “subject to exploitation, verbal and physical abuse, working in unsafe conditions, with very little pay.”
Meanwhile, globally the industry is worth more than £2 trillion and at least six of the world’s top 20 richest people listed on Forbes billionaires last year were in retail – including Amancio Ortega from Zara and Bernard Arnault CEO of luxury goods conglomerate LMVH (Louis Vuitton).
Fashion supply chains are famously complex and this works in the favour of brands who can claim ignorance or helplessness when faced with malpractice. Transparency leads to better working practices because companies can’t say “I didn’t know”.
It also helps NGOs, unions, local communities and even workers themselves to more swiftly alert brands to human rights and environmental issues.
If you saw a video of a factory worker being abused, it would tug at your heartstrings but you wouldn’t know what you could do. If you could link that worker to Topshop or Marc Jacobs, for example, you might think twice about buying your clothes from them, and they might think twice about working with abusive suppliers. Consumers have a lot of power to incite change.
WHO ELSE IS INVOLVED?
Who isn’t? The #whomademyclothes hashtag is huge. Last year, there were 100,000 posts and around 2,400 brands responded, some with an opaque link to their CSR policy, others with detailed information and even photos of the garment workers.
WHAT’S NEW THIS YEAR?
Fashion revolution is also launching its manifesto a 10-point plan for a cleaner safer fashion industry at parliament.
Somers says: “Revolutions come with manifestos and manifestos incite revolutions. We want our manifesto to motivate as many people as possible, to be riotous, something that belongs to everyone, that defies elitism, and that gives us all agency.”
HOW CAN YOU TAKE PART?
Take a label selfie, and ask the brand #whomademyclothes on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Support some of the ethical fashion brands listed on our site by browsing their offering, rather than buying from the high street.
Check out the Not My Style app which is working to unravel the complex supply chains and offers practical advice about how to improve your buying habits.
Sign the manifesto.