This week is Fashion Revolution Week. It is a campaign centred around the question: Who made my clothes? It always happens during the lsat week of April to remember the Rana Plaza factory collapse four years ago where a startling 1,138 people were killed.
I remember this tragedy well. Despite being shocked and heartbroken I also was hopeful. I thought this might mark the beginning of change. I hoped it would wake people up to the ugly realities of the fashion industry.
Where do our clothes come from?
Our clothes travel a long way before they reach high street stores. It starts with the cotton farmers, goes on to spinners, weavers and sewers.
The majority of people involved in the production of clothes are between 18 and 35 years old and 80% of them are women. One could think that this might be a great provision of employment around the world. However, most of the workers in the fashion industry do not get paid enough to afford basic necessities like food or shelter. They have to endure exploitation, verbal and physical abuse and working in unsafe and dirty conditions.
This is not the only problem with the way our clothes are made, sourced and consumed. With the fast turnaround of people buying and discarding clothing items, resources are depleted at a startling rate and tonnes of waste are produced.
What can I do?
I have felt really challenged by these realities for a while. I am convinced that a change of mind-set about consumption is deeply needed. But I find this really hard. I want to prioritise high quality items that will last me a long time over the cheap stuff that I will have to throw out after a couple of washes. But it is so easy to get sucked into this mentality of wanting to have more and new things all the time. But with this post I want to challenge myself to really ask the question of where the things I wear come from, who made them and if I really need them.
There are three concrete goals that I want to achieve:
- Buy less clothes. I have already been working on this (being kind of skint most of the time has helped with this a lot). A study that found that the average European consumer buys 60% more clothing than 15 years ago but keeps hold of it for half as long. This and a look into my wardrobe is a sign that I definitely have enough stuff.
- Buy second-hand. This saves resources and it also reduces the demand for ‘fast fashion’ and unfairly produced clothing.
- Support ethical brands. I see more and more designers and shops popping up that have made it their mission to produce attire in fair and eco-friendly manner. I am still exploring these brands but am hoping to introduce some of them on here over the next months. Also – if you know of any ethical fashion brands – please let me know about them!
I would love it if some of you guys would join me on this journey. I think the above are very achievable steps everyone can take and they don’t necessarily require a lot of money or time. So, let me know your thoughts on fair consumption and definitely keep me accountable to my goals!
Also, I would highly recommend to visit the Fashion Revolution website and to watch a documentary called “The True Cost”. It explores our current relationship with fashion and how the industry has become very fast paced and destructive and it seeks to present some possible solutions. A very important and inspiring watch!