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There are some events that are set in stone. One such harrowing event happened in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2013 which led to one of the biggest revolutions in the world, The Fashion Revolution Week.
The Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed on April 24, 2013, killing 1,100 people and injuring 2,500 more. Several garment factories were housed in Rana Plaza. It is, till now, the fourth largest industrial disaster.
The tragedy sprouted worldwide anger and brought attention to the fashion industry's exploitative nature, which is fueled by some of our most adored fashion brands. This did not end here, basic human rights, such as safe working conditions and fair pay, as well as improved environmental regulations, were requested by workers, activists, and consumers from around the world.
Rana Plaza's collapse put the garment industry's deathtrap workplaces in the public spotlight and started a fashion revolution that focuses on the fashion industry's social and environmental issues, as well as coaxing people into becoming a more aware and sustainable shopper.
The terrible tragedy served as a stark reminder of the inhumane working conditions and exploitation of people in the name of fashion.
Fashion Revolution Week is held every year around April 24 to mourn the deaths of these garment workers. It is a global fashion activism movement that strives to build a global fashion business that prioritises people over profit and conserves and restores the environment.
Since then, the Fashion Revolution movement has gained pace and inspired the public to push for structural change in the fashion industry during the week surrounding April 24th every year. With people’s help and the internet, it has now become a global event, spanning across 92 nations that wants to create a fashion conscious movement that contributes to environment empathy and the value of people, rather than focusing on profit and expansion.
Every year there’s a different theme of the FRW which has a different set of issues that it focuses on. The event, activities, and campaigns are based on the same theme.
This year FRW will be held between 18th-24th April. MONEY FASHION POWER is this year's theme. This theme is centred on the fashion industry's behaviours, active labour exploitation, and natural resource exploitation.
“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.” The website quoted for choosing this theme.
At fashionrevolution.org, the full schedule of global events will be revealed soon. You can also find ways to get involved and find your country's team on the same page.
“As we enter our 9th year, we will go back to our core, exposing the profound inequities and social and environmental abuses in the fashion supply chains. From the uneven distribution of profits to overproduced, easily discarded fashion, to the imbalances of power that negate inclusion,” writes Orsola De Castro, the co-founder and global creative Direction of Fashion Revolution.
“On the other hand, 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.”
First and foremost, the Rana Plaza accident revealed the fashion industry's disdain for employees' rights. Many companies and retailers continue to shirk responsibility for the salary, working conditions, and wellbeing of those who work in their supply chains.
The Fashion Revolution movement not only demands that workers' rights be recognised, but it also brings the problem of sustainability to the forefront of the fashion industry.
Below are some key issues that FRW focuses on every year.
During Fashion Revolution Week, individuals all over the world are encouraged to use the hashtag #whomademyclothes to ask brands the artisans and labourers behind their clothes. It is a huge step forward in terms of better labour conditions and transparency about where brands and merchants get their products made.
We can all agree that this is a good initiative, but simply displaying where the clothing is cut and sewed leaves a major gap in the supply chain's openness and can even obscure a brand's sustainability credentials.
Annually, global textile production emits 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases, according to United Nations Climate Change. To put that in context, it's shocking and almost impossible to believe that this is more than aviation and maritime shipping pollution. Furthermore, according to the Australian Circular Textile Association (ACTA), around 30% of all clothing produced worldwide is never sold. In the fashion industry, there is a lot of overproduction, and many of these unsold clothing end up being buried, shredded, or burned. This, indeed, is a sad state of affairs.
Below image shows a blocked river path due to excess clothing waste dumped in the rivers by garment factories.
Transparency is on the rise, thanks to the internet, and is becoming increasingly important to consumers who want to make well-informed purchasing decisions.
Thanks to the Fashion Revolution, they launched the Fashion Transparency Index five years ago, an annual assessment that ranks firms based on how much information they reveal about their social and environmental processes and practices. This coaxes the brands to disclose information about their production – failing to do so can result in the brand being held accountable.
Suki Dusang from India heads the Fashion Revolution team as a country Coordinator and manages various campaigns that spotlights the plight of the Indian fashion industry, its artisans, and other issues. Below are some of their campaigns.
Find what all they’ve planned for the upcoming Fashion Revolution Week 2022 on their Instagram.
Fashion Revolution Week’s official website recommends ways one can participate in the event right from their homes. With the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes?, millions of individuals are encouraged to challenge fashion brands on social media during this week.
This simple inquiry puts a lot of pressure on brands and retailers, forcing them to respond and demand more company openness.
All you need to do is ask away your concerns to your favourite brand using the said hashtag.
The hashtag #WhatsInMyClothes has recently gained popularity. This question increases awareness of the hidden chemicals in our clothing that are so harmful to the environment, and it keeps brands accountable for their use.
If you’re in need of some assistance, The Fashion Revolution website offers free posters to download and distribute on social media, as well as email templates, postcards, and contact information, so you can easily contact brands and policymakers. Having said that, they also encourage people to test out a #haulternative to fast fashion during Fashion Revolution Week and throughout the year.
So why don’t you try a Swap, a 2nd hand purchase, or a Fashion Fix instead of tossing away unwanted items or buying new ones? By practising recycling, upcycling, and cutting down unnecessary fashion purchases, you not only become a member of the FRW club but also become a conscious consumer throughout the year.
The aim of FRW is not just building awareness for a week, but instead, it’s more about putting a full stop to the unethical and unsustainable methods in the fashion business, as well as to inspire change. So take a pledge, be more aware, ask questions, share information, and think about the vulnerable hands that sew your clothes.
With time and effort, we can make a change!
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