As we near the end of Fashion Revolution Week, it is important to reflect on the origins of this cause and their goals for the future of the industry. Fashion Revolution Week is a campaign which takes place every year in the week of the 24th of April, the anniversary of the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse.
‘Rana Plaza, a building in Bangladesh, housed a number of garment factories, employing around 5,000 people. The people in this building were manufacturing clothing for many of the biggest global fashion brands. More than 1,100 people – mostly young women – died in the collapse and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history.’ - Fashion Revolution
The aim of this week is to raise awareness and campaign for a more equitable, fair and sustainable fashion industry, and to prevent tragedies like the Rana Plaza collapse from happening again. Fashion Revolution want fashion to be able to exist without the exploitation of people or the planet’s resources. They are demanding change for the industry, its’ workers and the environment, with a vision of “a global fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profit.”
This year’s theme is Money Fashion Power, highlighting the ways in which wealth and power are unequally distributed among corporations and garment workers in the fashion industry. Brands and retailers make massive profits and use aggressive marketing tactics to convince consumers that we constantly need new things, creating a vicious cycle of overconsumption and waste. At the same time, garment workers are not paid enough to live on and work in appalling conditions. While many of these brands use female empowerment as a marketing ploy, their supply chains are often made up of a majority of women and girls, who are underpaid and overworked. In order to make huge profits, brands and businesses exploit their workers and natural resources, causing harmful social and environmental effects. Namely, there have been reports published by Global Labour Justice which expose widespread exploitation and abuse of Asian female garment workers in factories which are used by H&M and Gap. Fast fashion giant PrettyLittleThing have also been accused of modern slavery, paying their garment workers in Leicester £3.50 an hour, which is far less than the minimum wage. In order to fight this injustice and rebalance power in the industry, Fashion Revolution have several demands. Among others, they want fair pay and safe, dignified working conditions for garment workers and transparency from brands about their supply chains, which will force them to use more ethical production routes, and allow consumers to make more informed decisions.
“There is no sustainable fashion without fair pay. Throughout the pandemic, fashion brands have made billions, while the majority of workers in their supply chains remain trapped in poverty. To address this, we are calling for new laws that require businesses to conduct due diligence on living wages. This will transform the lives and livelihoods of the people that make our clothes, and help redistribute money and power in the global fashion industry.” - Fashion Revolution
As individuals, Fashion Revolution Week encourages us to look beyond the label and care about where our clothes come from and who they are made by. One of the most important ways in which Fashion Revolution hope to achieve their goals of ending human and environmental exploitation in the industry, is by spreading awareness and educating the public on these issues. In turn, they hope to create a cultural shift in which as many people as possible become active in the movement, making changes in their own lives and using their voice to educate others. The hope is that this movement will be populated by a diverse range of people and communities committed to changing the fashion industry with collective action. During this week, we are asked to consider how we may do more to change the fashion industry for good; whether that involves being more mindful of what we consume, supporting campaigns for better working conditions, or writing to a brand or policymaker with our concerns.
While it is necessary to expose and raise awareness of the stark inequalities and social and environmental abuses in the fashion industry, Fashion Revolution Week also has a positive outlook and aims to showcase the ways in which “inspiring new designers, thinkers and professionals all over the world are challenging the system with solutions and alternative models. Fashion Revolution Week is all of this, scrutinising and celebrating fashion, globally and locally, wherever you are” - Orsola de Castro, Co-founder and Global Creative Director of Fashion Revolution. The aim of this week is equally to pave a positive route for the future of the industry, and show us that if we collectively commit to this cause, we can make changes to the environmental and social impact of fashion.