Fashion Revolution Week encourages you to ask brands #whomademyclothes?
Fashion Revolution Week starts today and the aim of the global initiative is to demand greater transparency from fashion brands to help improve the working conditions and wages of the workers who make our clothes. People are encouraged to ask brands #whomademyclothes from 24-30 April, with the week long campaign taking place in 90 countries around the world.
Last year I wrote about Why Fashion Revolution Week Matters and myself and the FashioNZ team were heartened by some of the reponses we got from you, our readers. This year we’re asking you to continue to campaign for a fairer, safer, cleaner fashion industry and celebrate those who are on a journey to make it happen. The theme for this year’s event is MONEY, FASHION, POWER, which aims to explore the flows of money and the structures of power across fashion’s supply chains, centreing on garment worker wages and the price we pay for our clothes, so that the public can better understand what it is they are paying for.
“As consumers, we have power. We are the driver of trends, and every time we buy something, we’re voting with our wallet. When we speak, brands listen,” says Carry Somers, Fashion Revolution Co-founder. “As consumers, we need to know who makes our clothes and under what conditions. We need to be able to scrutinise what it is we’re really paying for. We need to know that the people who clothe us are being paid enough to live with dignity. Otherwise, we’re effectively and unwittingly contributing to the exploitation of others”.
The are over 75 million people working directly in the fashion and textiles industries around the globe and many of whom are subject to exploitation, verbal and physical abuse and are often working in unsafe conditions with very little pay. Although there have been some steps forward since the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in 2013 killing 1,138 people, not enough has changed which is why we as consumers need to demand change.
Did you know that the list of the twenty richest people in the world includes six people who run fashion brands? On the other hand, there are millions of people employed in the process of making clothes that are often not earning enough to pay for the bare necessities.
“Have you ever wondered who makes your clothes? How much they’re paid and what their lives are like?,” asks Fashion Revolution Co-founder Orsola de Castro. “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.”
Here in New Zealand there are some wonderful brands leading the way in terms of ethics, sustainability and transparency as highlighted by the Ethical Fashion Report 2017 conducted by Baptist World Aid Australia which was released last week. Wellington-based brand Kowtow received the highest grade of any NZ fashion brand surveyed and placed 6th out of 106 companies audited in NZ and Australia. “We were excited when Baptist World Aid approached us to take part in the survey. The questions are very stringent and a lot of supporting evidence has to be submitted. To be given the highest grade of all New Zealand fashion businesses shows that we really are who we say we are. No green washing.” says Gosia Piatek, Kowtow Art Director & Founder.
Twenty-seven Names, Ingrid Starnes, MOOI, Hailwood, Tanya Carlson, Kate Sylvester and WE-AR are among the many local brands who are actively involved in monitoring their supply chains and providing ethical products for their customers. Local organisation Child Labour Free have been working with a growing group of local brands to ensure there is no exploitation of children in the production process which is another important part of the ethical equation.
Fashion Revolution Week 2017 has events and activities happening worldwide this week to encourage people to think differently about the clothes they buy and wear and inspire them to make a positive difference. Here is how you can take part:
– Take a selfie showing your clothing label, tag the brand on social media and ask them #whomademyclothes
– Write to a fashion brand to ask them to be more transparent and to commit to paying living wages
– Write to your local politicians and tell them you want better conditions for workers and the reduction of environmental impacts in the fashion industry everywhere in the world
– Try a #Haulternative: mend, reuse, recycle, customise or swap your clothing with a friend
– Buy something better: choose something from a brand with a positive social or environmental impact, or buy something from a charity or vintage shop
– Check out the Fashion Transparency Index, which will cover 100 brands from April 2017
– Write a love story about an item of clothing that means a lot to you. Click here to find out how
– Organise or attend a Fashion Revolution event in your community.