It’s Fashion Revolution Week – a time for collective action and activism. How do you want the fashion industry to change?
Fashion Revolution Week was founded in response to the industrial disaster Rana Plaza, a factory collapse in 2013 that killed over 1100 garment workers and injured 2500 more. It was an avoidable tragedy in so many ways – the day prior, a wall had developed a crack so large that “an engineer called to inspect the damage recommended the building be immediately condemned”1. In spite of this, managers ordered the workers to return the next morning.
The Rana Plaza collapse is the result of a destructive and brutal system in which profit is prioritised over the lives and livelihoods of people who work in the fashion supply chain. The global fashion economy quite literally values cheap production more than human life. People died for clothes, and continue to do so today.
Rana Plaza has acted as a catalyst for industry-wide change. The Bangladesh Accord – a legally-binding agreement between fashion brands, garment workers and factory owners that ensures factories meet labour safety standards – was set up in the wake of the disaster, and renewed last year.2 And Fashion Revolution Week was born, bringing together fashion wearers, makers and those in industry and providing a space for community-led action. It provides an opportunity to call for radical change and engage with those who make our clothes.
So how can you get involved? We have five suggestions for taking action:
Attend a Fashion Revolution Week event
There are events held all over the world – check out their calendar. Here in London, Poplar Works is holding an Open Studio day to invite visitors to see their making, training and manufacturing spaces.
Make yourself heard on social media
Fashion Revolution provides downloadable resources including posters and campaign assets – all for concerned citizens to help support the movement. You can ask your favourite brands who made your clothes via social media, using their images to create a collective voice. Look out for others asking the same question on your feed. Don’t forget to tag the brands’ social media accounts!
Follow and support those speaking out on injustice and calling for radical change
Check out journalist and writer Lucy Siegle, influencer and activist Aja Barber, and of course Fashion Revolution itself. From a business-to-business perspective, both Rachel Cernansky (Vogue Business) and Sarah Kent (Business of Fashion) focus on fashion and sustainability topics.
The theme for this year’s Fashion Revolution Week is “MONEY FASHION POWER” – an exploration of wealth, power and the global fashion industry. Learn more about how fashion shapes and is shaped by the economy on our free four-week online course, Fashion Values: Economy.
Alongside these suggestions, take a moment to reflect...
What does your ideal fashion industry look like? How would you change the system for the better? And what can you do to make these reflections a reality? Fashion Revolution Week is not only an opportunity for action but also for thoughtfulness. Business as usual won’t change without something to change into – so let’s re-design the fashion industry to be one that values nature, society and culture as much as it values profit. Consider ways to implement your thinking, knowledge and ideals, making your views heard as a worker, a consumer, a citizen, a creative or a business leader.
1. Thomas, D., 2018. Why Won’t We Learn from the Survivors of the Rana Plaza Disaster?. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/24/style/survivors-of-rana-plaza-disaster.html [Accessed 13 April 2022].
2. Paul, R. and Waldersee, V., 2021. Retailers agree to extend Bangladeshi garment workers' safety pact. [online] reuters.com. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/exclusive-retailers-unions-extend-legally-binding-worker-safety-accord-2021-08-25/ [Accessed 13 April 2022].