On 24 April 2013, 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
That’s when Fashion Revolution was born.
As I get older I have begun to think more and more about where my clothes are made and who physically makes them. If I buy a t-shirt for €4 – how can someone be making a living wage from piecing togeather the garment – when the raw materials, factory running costs, the cost of moving it through the supply chain etc. are all taken into account? This really began to bother me.
During one of the very first interviews that I did with Dearhaile Joyce (you can read it here), she spoke about how the fashion focus should be more on how the clothes are made (with regards the workers), but also the process of how the fabric is made. Some of the processes use chemicals and we should be thinking of their impact as well. Dearbhaile was just at the start of her career at that stage and I think I was inspired to see her passion on the subject.
It is something that I have seen come up again and again with the designers that I have interviewed. Some are trying to keep the production in Ireland like The Tweed Project, We are Islanders and Wild Cocoon and others are trying to ensure that the workers in their factory are working in good conditions like Lisa Ryder who regularly visited her Italian factories or Emma Manley who knows who her workers are and has spent time with them. All of these things may not sound like much but the more designers who take this seriously are making an impact on the industry and this is important.
I then watched The True Cost. This changed the way I thought. There is no other way to say it – you cannot unwatch the program and it does not sit well with me that I am adding to the tonnes of clothes sitting in landfills and adding to the demand for fast fashion which in turn adds more toxins to the planet. Hearing stylists like Orla Sheridan talk and her 30 wears rule also struck a recent chord with me.
When the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I was horrified. It really bought home to me the impact that we are indirectly having on the world around us. If we as consumers did not drive the demand for cheap, fast fashion then would there be exploitation and unsafe work conditions as there are today?
I then came across Fashion Revolution and I think that they are trying to achieve is admirable. They are encouraging people around the world to ask brands #whomademyclothes during Fashion Revolution Week 24-30 April, to demand greater transparency to help improve the working conditions and wages of the people who work to make our clothes. The campaign will run in over 90 countries and I am in no way associated with them but felt that I had to share their Revolution Week with you. The question is important – who made your clothes? If you ask the brand will they tell you???
According to Fashion Revolution – about 75 million people work directly in the fashion and textiles industry. Many are subject to exploitation; verbal and physical abuse, working in unsafe conditions, with very little pay. Despite some steps forward since the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in 2013 killing 1,138 people, not enough has changed.
In Ireland, there is a Fashion Revolution Community and they have arranged some amazing events. You can check them out on Facebook here and buy tickets here and here. I am really looking forward to attending some of the events and getting involved.
Fashion Revolution Co-founder Orsola de Castro said: “Have you ever wondered who makes your clothes? How much they’re paid and what their lives are like? Our clothes have gone on a long journey before they hit store shelves, passing through the hands of cotton farmers, spinners, weavers, dyers, and sewers. Eighty percent of them are women between the ages of 18 and 24. Many of the people who make our clothes live in poverty. This needs to change.”
You can follow Fashion Revolution here, and they are also on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. There is also a Facebook for the Irish Movement which you can follow here. And I will be sharing more about sustainable fashion and ethical fashion as I am passionate about it and feel that it is important that we all talk more about it. Check out #whomademyclothes online to follow this revolution online!
All images used from the press section of Fashion Revolution and credited as requested.