Have you ever wondered who made your clothes? That beautiful red dress you wear when you want to feel extra special. Or the super comfy skinnies you can be found wearing on a daily basis. Or even the gorgeous leather jacket you always get compliments on. These are the questions Fashion Revolution wants you to ask yourself and the brands you wear, using the catchy #whomademyclothes. It’s the official hashtag of Fashion Revolution, but what exactly is that, and why should you care about it?
Fashion Revolution started after the terrible Rana Plaza collapse, where a clothes factory collapsed, burying alive over 1,100 people. I don’t want to put shocking images (just look them up online), but for an industry that’s classified as ‘low risk’, it was an incredible tragedy. To be perfectly honest, as sad as it was, it was also a bit hard for me to relate. After all, now I live in the UK, where no one would be forced to go to work in a building full of cracks that’s about to collapse.
What shocked me a lot was the brands these women were sewing clothes for. It was some of the biggest names in the industry: Mango, Primark and Benetton besides others. These were all brands I owned items from and loved browsing their new-in sections in the search for a new affordable piece. How could fashion that looked so shiny, and so good, be related to such a terrible disaster?
That’s when I started learning more about the damage fast fashion has on both the environment and the people who work in the industry. It was eye-opening, but it didn’t immediately stop me from buying from these stores. It was only after a few years and a lot more reading that I managed to educate myself, but you don’t have to do it the hard way. Fashion Revolution has got you sorted.
WHAT IS FASHION REVOLUTION?
In their own words, they are a global movement of people just like you and me. Working class people, academics, fashion bloggers, brand owners. Their mission is simple: make fashion a fair and transparent industry that values equally the environment, people, profit and creativity. There’s no preaching, no judging: just plenty of useful information and action-packed tips. Because the best way to show that you care is by taking action.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
I believe that most people continue to support fast fashion brands for two main reasons. They are unaware of the unethical practices these brands have, or simply choose to ignore it because they can’t afford to buy anything more sustainable. I am pretty sure no sane person will openly support companies that are involved with poisoning people with toxic chemicals, or destroying the environment. So in short, if you know what’s happening, you can choose not to support such companies. Or at least challenge their practices so that they can improve.
Secondly, I truly believe sustainable fashion is on the rise. We are currently at the ‘trend-setting’ stage, where only a small number of people are involved. Yet, in a few years time, I am sure it will be already trendy, and more and more people will want to be part of it. If you don’t believe me, think about other hip things that have become absolutely normal, and even insanely desired. Veganism did it for food, electric cars did it for transport, and sustainable style is going to do it for fashion. So if you want to be a trend-setter rather than just a follower, there’s a chance to become an early-adopter.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
So what can you actually do to start your journey into sustainable fashion? I’ve previously outlined 7 budget ways to make your closet more sustainable, but here are a few more tips for you:
Look at your clothes’ labels, and ask yourself who made your clothes? What is it like to work there? What kind of people are involved, and what are their lives like? Just being curious about those questions is the best first step towards changing the story for the people who make our clothes.
Let apps help you
It can be really difficult to know whether a brand you’re buying from is sustainable. Apps such as Good Guide, Ethical Barcode and Buycott let you scan the item’s barcode while you’re shopping. They can tell you the social or environmental impact of these products, and even whether the people who made them were fairly paid.
If in doubt, buy second-hand
Sometimes it can be really frustrating, especially if the choice you have is between the usual fast-fashion suspects, and beautiful but not affordable sustainable brands. To make transition easier, why not buy stuff pre-loved. If you’re not into thrifting in physical stores, sites such as eBay and Depop make it a little bit like treasure-hunting. You can find trendy or classical items, usually at the fraction of the retail price. And the best part? The come guilt-free!
Why am I telling you this?
Because I truly believe in sustainable fashion and doing what you can. It’s still not possible for me to afford buying new sustainable pieces, but I do buy almost everything pre-loved. Take for example this outfit. Besides the boots, everything is second hand, and I dare to say I don’t look too shabby!