Today is an important day for the sustainable + ethical fashion movement, because today marks the anniversary of the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse. The collapse resulted in several thousand employees getting injured and losing their lives and out of this tragedy the fashion revolution movement was born. The movement aims at asking brands a simple question - "#whomademyclothes?" with the purpose of demanding and bringing about greater transparency in the fashion industry supply chain so as to empower the people who have been exploited in the process and reduce the impact of the fashion industry on our environment (remember the textile and clothing industry is the 2nd highest carbon emitter, responsible for 10% global emission.)
Each one of us has a role to play in transitioning away from the fast fashion approach of not knowing or caring about how our clothes were made, by whom they were made and whether these people had proper working conditions or not. We must also relook how we consume our clothes, how quick we are to discard them, and what impact they end up having on our environment when we discard them.
All of this can seem daunting and confusing at first and in order to help you get kick-started I thought I'd share three easy ways in which you can become a part of the fashion revolution.
Read and talk about it
The quickest and easiest way that you can join the movement is by reading through the official website and eventually spreading the word. Go through some of the information available, understand the issue, understand the implications, understand the perpetrators and the victims, and most importantly, understand what needs to be done.
Once you feel you've read enough on it to have a strong opinion, formulate your thoughts and share them. This could be done by posting an Instagram selfie asking your favorite brand a simple question - "who made my clothes" or by engaging people around you in a conversation on this topic. No step is too small, as long it gets the conversation started.
"THE DAMAGE OF PRODUCING CLOTHES IN WAYS THAT AREN'T SUSTAINABLE OR ETHICAL CAN NEVER BE REDUCED BY DISCARDING THEM.
IT CAN ONLY BE OFFSET BY ENSURING THAT WE AT-LEAST CONSUME THEM IN AN ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE MANNER."
Say "no" to new clothes
Another easy way to contribute to the cause is by pledging not to participate in fast fashion. Some people look at this as a transition that translates into buying only sustainable and ethically manufactured clothes. I on the other hand suggest taking a pause from buying any new piece of clothing altogether for a short period.
This pause will give you time to introspect and look at all the clothes you already own and identify the clothes you truly enjoy wearing vs those you don't. This is an important step because once you've figured out what you don't enjoy wearing anymore, you can begin the process of minimizing your wardrobe (more on that later.) The pause and the consequent awareness of everything in your wardrobe will enable you to differentiate between what you need vs what you want. You can also use this time to research accessible brands that produce in a sustainable and ethical manner. All of this will ensure that when you do resume buying new clothes again, it will be a more deliberate and purposeful process, causing the least amount of damage to the environment and the people who made your clothes.
Closing the fashion loop
After you've minimized your wardrobe and have identified the pieces of clothing that you no longer wear, you need to ensure that you close the fashion loop by letting go of the clothes you no longer need in a responsible manner. I tend to prefer to hand my clothes down to someone I know, because like that I know the clothes would actually end up being used. But if you aren't sure who to hand your old clothes down to, then you can do a little bit of research to find local organizations that accept old/used clothes for reuse or recycle.
So, how will you be participating in the fashion revolution week?