What is Fashion Revolution Week?
We just celebrated Earth Day. In fact, more than a day, we typically celebrate that all week long - even all month long. And that’s a good thing for sure, we need to respect our home. But sustainability and sustainable fashion is about addressing impacts on our planet AND us people, and that’s exactly what Fashion Revolution is about; people.
Fashion Revolution is an organization that was born out of the 2013 apparel industry-related tragedy that was the collapse of Rana Plaza; a tragic event that occurred this week, eight years ago, where a factory that was producing garments for multiple well-known brands collapsed killing at least 1,132 people and injuring thousands more. It was a shock to the system, but unfortunately, it wasn’t an isolated tragedy at that time. In fact, only five months prior, at least 112 workers had lost their lives in another tragic accident after being trapped inside the burning Tazreen Fashions factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh and just months prior to that, two separate factory fires in Pakistan – Karachi and Lahore – killed more than 300 on the same day. Rana Plaza, however, was a tipping point.
But we didn’t know...
It is said that workers knew there was something wrong with the building and were expressing concern, and were in fact, doing what they could to not go into the factory that day, or on the days leading up to the building’s collapse. At first, brands were quick to say they weren’t aware their goods were being manufactured there. And, prior to April 24th 2013, it was easy to push this off as a, “that’s on our manufacturer - we didn’t even know where the goods were being made. We didn’t approve that factory,” etc. These were the days of lack of traceability, zero transparency, and hard-to-address accountability.
The founders of Fashion Revolution, Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro, were done with this. They immediately got to work and formed what has become the world’s largest fashion activism movement, mobilising citizens, industry and policymakers through our research, education and advocacy work. All revolving around the question of: “Who Made My Clothes?”
And Fashion Revolution's vision?
- An end to human and environmental exploitation in the global fashion industry
- Safe, dignified working conditions and living wages for all people in the supply chain
- Redistributed and more equal balance of power across the global fashion industry
- A bigger and stronger labour movement in the global fashion industry
- A global fashion industry that works to conserve precious resources and regenerate ecosystems
- A culture of transparency and accountability across the value chain
- An end to throwaway culture and shift to a system where materials are used for much longer and nothing goes to waste
- Heritage, craftsmanship and local wisdoms are recognised and valued
These are all aspirations that we can get behind, and that we ARE behind.
The Kozm Open Book Business Model
Fashion Revolution’s work played a big role in our Open Book Business Model; it’s important to us to know who’s making our goods, how they’re being made, and where they’re being made. We know this is important to you as well.
This year, Fashion Revolution is focusing on relaying the fact that “human rights and the rights of nature are interconnected and interdependent; we are part of the wider living world and our right to a healthy environment depends on the health of our planet.” And the hits just keep on comin’.
So, what should you do to celebrate Fashion Revolution week?
Try this: Ask your other favorite brands this week:
- “Who Made My Clothes”
- Ask about traceability; how far back can they trace the who, what, and where of goods and materials (tier 2, fabric dyeing, is becoming the standard).
- Ask about transparency; do they share a supplier map? A supplier list?
- Ask about their Triple Bottom Line approach - are they balancing bottom line impacts with impacts on people (throughout their supply chain), and planet?
And then, we have to get introspective…
It’s time for us to ask ourselves, are we willing to pay the true cost for our favorite goods? As more and more brands begin (as we expect them to) to account for their externalities (emissions, pollution, waste, soil degradation, safe working conditions, etc.) it’s imperative that we move away from a race to the bottom and realize that doing business sustainability, more responsibly, is not the cheaper way.
Fashion shouldn’t cost us the planet, and it definitely shouldn’t cost us lives.
Other brands that offer traceability and transparency: