Introducing Fashion Revolution Week -- the newest cause to add to your calendar of activism. The movement, which is now in its fifth year, was sparked as a reaction to the 1,138 people that died in Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza when structural issues caused a building to collapse. The creators of Fashion Revolution Week morphed this tragedy into a call for change in the fashion industry, starting with the problem itself: the questionable conditions lurking behind clothing production.
Fashion Revolution Week has one simple mission: advocate for transparency when it comes to fashion production. They beg activists to wonder who is actually responsible for their favorite dress or shirt, and what conditions did they have to endure to make this piece of clothing available? With the hashtag #whomademyclothes?, the movement took over social media, encouraging others to post pictures of their clothing labels and ask their favorite brands what’s really going on behind the scenes of fashion production.
There’s no denying the growth in popularity of both high fashion and fast fashion, a trend that doesn’t appear to go out of style anytime soon. With of the demand that fast fashion brings comes desperate attempts to get as many items of clothing out by any means necessary.
Unfortunately, this also means the wellbeing of the people who are producing these items of clothing, and the environment they must work in, are put on the back burner. The unsafe and unsatisfactory conditions of clothing workers are no secret, more like the elephant in the room ignored for the sake of capitalism. No one really wants to think about what must have gone down in order for any given cute top to appear on the rack of any given popular retail store. It’s much easier to pretend there was no foul play involved, ensuring a healthy conscious when leaving the mall.
However, Fashion Revolution Week dares to confront this skeleton in the fashion industry’s closet, and bring it to light. Their daring efforts aim to bring back the importance of ethics in fashion practices and sustainable methods of producing clothing. By advocating for transparency, the movement pressures mainstream brands to opt for acceptable and safer working conditions so that they can prove they have nothing to hide. Until this change occurs, the movement urges supporters to cut back on shopping to lower the demand that pushes companies to use unsustainable methods of production. Instead, they suggest re-wearing old clothing or thrift shopping.
Through this movement, the focus is shifted not on who sells the clothes or wear the clothes, but finally to who actually made the clothes, begging consumers to consider their vital role in this industry as well. In efforts to veer the spotlight toward those who often go unseen and uncared for, Fashion Revolution Week has brought the humanity back to the cutthroat retail industry, and in doing so, has brought hopes for a more positive, conscious fashion industry. The future is bright for an industry who is finally beginning to ensure no contributor goes unnoticed and left to fend for themselves in shameful conditions.
Want to take part in the cause? Check Fashion Open Studio's event schedule to check out ethical studios from everywhere from Finland to Sydney to Ibiza. If you're in London before January 2019, you can also stop by the V&A's new exhibit "Fashioned from Nature": it's the first ethical fashion event to range from the 1600s to present day. If you can't get a visit in your calendar, just hop on Twitter and join the #whomademyclothes? trend, or personally revolutionize your closet by second-hand shopping and simply falling back in love with the clothing you already have. (Yes, that means even grandma’s Christmas sweater)