It’s Fashion Revolution Week. This is the week, traditionally, when we pause to remember the 1,138 fast fashion workers who tragically lost their lives, with many more who were injured, at the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh on 24th April 2013. The revolution has since inspired thousands around the world to demand that our fave brands make efforts to be more transparent while making our clothes; posting, sharing and asking #whomademyclothes, and organising or attending Fash Rev events. In this strange new COVID-19 world, where the thought of gathering energy to be part of a revolution might reasonably feel beyond you, we’re giving you some grist for your passion.
For so long as social distancing is the law, being part of something bigger than ourselves is one way in which we can feel that important sense of connection with others. Aside from the climate emergency, this is perhaps the only time in our lives where nearly everyone on the planet is facing the same threat. The fears we have for our health and economic well-being during this crisis mirror the fears of our sisters in the developing world. Here’s why Fash Rev matters – even more – this year, and some thoughts on ways you can be involved (at a distance!).
1. Garment workers need your support!
With every major fast-fashion chain closing their bricks and mortar stores, garment workers in countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia, where there are no government subsidies or support, are going to be hardest hit. $3 billion worth of orders have been cancelled or suspended in Bangladesh alone. Doctor Rubana Huq, the President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, has called on brands to honour their orders saying, “We will have 4.1 million garment workers going hungry if we don’t all step up our commitment to the welfare of workers.”
Fashion Revolution are calling for fashion brands to honour the orders they have already placed with their suppliers and ensure the workers are “protected, supported and paid properly during this crisis.” They’ve created an email template that you can use to contact brands by email or social media and ask them to make sure their garment makers are looked after during this pandemic.
2. Visit your wardrobe
‘Composition’ is one of the Fash Rev themes in 2020 (the others are consumption, conditions and collective action). As important as #whomademyclothes is, #whatsinmyclothes? We need to start a wider conversation about harmful materials and ask brands to fully disclose what’s in their products. Take a good look at the composition labels on your clothes. Microfibres, plastics and certain chemicals have potentially harmful environmental impacts and we have a right to know if any of these are in the clothes we wear.
3. Repair is a revolutionary act
Fash Rev (and others) have long been exhorting us to shift our behaviour, to slow down our consumption and adopt a longevity mindset. Many of us might have preferred a less scary antidote to overconsumption, but now that we’re at this point, we can use this ’pause’ to take some time out and turn the safety we find in small actions – mending and repairing or reworking our clothes – into something comforting. The crafters and seamstresses among us have long known the contentment that comes from working with our hands, feeling textiles between our fingers and the joy in creating something new. It could be as simple as sewing on a button, fixing a hole in a jumper or doing basic darning, because we know that #lovedclotheslast.
4. Brain food binge watch
Now that it’s okay – some might even say a necessity – to binge watch, why not add these Fash Rev prescribed movies to your list: The Price of Free, The True Cost, Made in Bangladesh (on Stan), River Blue, The Machinists, or short films: Who Made My Clothes, Unravel, Two Euro T-Shirt, Tears in the Fabric, Catwalk to Creation and Frontline Fashion.
5. Meet the ethical tribe
Peppermint is Zoom-chatting with some of our ethical design tribe this week – asking them ‘Why does the Fashion Revolution matter in the current crisis?’ Watch our socials for information on video timing! Fashion Revolution also has a feast of virtual workshops and discussions on their digital platform Fashion Open Studios.
6. Consume consciously
If you do need new clothes in your life right now, we suggest you look to brands who care about their workers and make sustainability, ethics and traceability their most important purpose. You can find ethical brands with values that mirror your own on accreditation sites such as Ethical Clothing Australia and Fair Trade Australia, or marketplaces such as Well Made Clothes and Thread Harvest or read reports on how brands are doing on Good on You or Baptist World Aid.
7. And, of course, ask brands “Who made my clothes?”
Even though we can’t gather in person for inspiration and education, you can still ask brands #whomademyclothes from the safety of your self isolation. With ‘composition’ being one of this years themes, the campaign is also encouraging us to ask #whatsinmyclothes on social media. Post a photo with the hashtag and ask your favourite brands about the materials they are using. While Fash Rev is only a week-long event, remember to keep asking your fave brands all year round to let them know that you care about creating a clean, safe, fair, transparent and accountable fashion industry. Your voice does make a difference.