Next week is Fashion Revolution week. It first started back in 2013 when the Rana Plaza building, which housed a number of clothing factories in Bangladesh, collapsed killing 1100 people, most of them young women, and injuring many more. The people in this building were manufacturing clothing for many of the biggest global fashion brands. Ever since this day, many people around the world have joined the Fashion Revolution calling for change, trying to hold fashion brands to account and persisting with the important question of ‘Who made my clothes?’. Fashion Revolution week has also become a time to celebrate the ethical fashion brands that are working so hard to ensure transparency in their supply chains and ensure a sustainable livelihood and the fair treatment of their workers.
This year Fashion Revolution has particular meaning with so many people around the world suffering hardship and many of those working in the fashion industry being impacted by the global pandemic of Covid 19. With many retailers closing their doors due to lockdown and most recently, UK brands Warehouse and Oasis going into administration, Bangledesh factories are experiencing cancelled orders worth billions of dollars. This has forced factories to shut, often without paying their workers. Despite the gloom and misery caused by this dreadful pandemic and financial crisis, the lockdown has provided plenty of time for thought and reflection about the kind of society we have become. We can only remain hopeful that the world will emerge from this crisis soon with a new focus on sustainbility and the rights of workers in the fashion industry (and beyond).
So this year for Fashion Revolution week I wanted to share an outfit featuring some of my favourite brands that are already really making a difference…
Ninety Percent (dress)
Ninety Percent have an industry-leading garment manufacturing facility, Echotex in Bangladesh that puts planet and people before profit. This factory offers opportunities to workers including free lunch, free medical services for every staff member, [the subsidized store] Echo-mart and a childcare facility. You can find out about the team making their clothes here. Ninety Percent’s model is based on sharing and 360-degree empowerment with 90% of their distributed profits being shared between charitable causes and those who make the collection happen. A unique code in the garment’s care label can be used to vote for your chosen cause with options including women living in poverty, two children-focused charities and two environmental causes. Ninety Percent is all about clothes that are built to last, and love from well-cut organic cotton sweats to detail-driven jersey staples and beautifully crafted knits from organic merino.
Hat – Pachacuti
Founded by Carry Somers, one of the founders of Fashion Revolution, Pachacuti has been calling for change in the industry and pioneering ethical fashion way before the start of Fashion Revolution. Pachacuti hats are made according to Fair Trade principles and the company was the first in the world to be certified under the sustainable fair trade management system by the World Fair Trade Organisation. This guarantees that they have a proven set of practices,procedures and processes which demonstrate social, economic and environemental responsibility through-out the supply chain.
Shoes – Veja
Veja is a Brazilain brand that has built an name for itself for its fresh designs aswell as its transparenc, sustainability and ethical sourcing. This trainers were gifted to me by a retailer, a year or so ago. The cotton and rubber in Veja trainers are obtained directly from producers in Brazil and Peru under Fair trade principles working in a transparent way with 1-year contracts with an agreed a market-decorrelated price.Veja trainers are made in the the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil with a close partnership between the brand and factory. Workers are well-compensated and live in normal conditions in contrast to the workers creating trainers for many brands in south east asian countries.VEJA countinues to push its factories for greater transparency by requiring them to perform recurring social audits and chemical tests.
I am also wearing a mesh top from ‘Made in the UK’ brand One Boutique and a necklace which was a present from the Bath Christmas market a few years back.
There are lots of ways that you can get involved with Fashion Revolution and also use your time in lockdown to review your wardrobe, fall in love with items of clothing that you have forgotton or don’t wear so often, find out some more about the brands that you buy from and who makes their clothes and spend some time researching the most ethical alternatives for when you do next need something new.