Who Made My Clothes?
As Fashion Revolution Week draws to a close, I find myself caught in between two conflicting angles and unwilling to settle on either of them.
On one hand, I have the timid yet growing hope that, in the grand scheme of things, this movement really matters.
At the same time, there’s this part of me which acts as a cynical observer of all internet-things-deemed-revolutionary that can’t help but do its thing and, well, be cynical. Because, with so many obscurity-drenched issues boiling in this pink lace cauldron we call fashion, my (but perhaps I’m not alone in this) biggest concern is that 70,000 #whomademyclothes are as impactful as a handful of bubbles rising from the bottom of the cauldron only to become short-lived bursts of hot air.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Who Made My Clothes? is a wonderful and long-overdue initiative that has a tremendous potential to change the fashion industry inside-out. My concern is aimed at us, the consumers, and culminates with the handful of conglomerates that control 90% of this industry. Even if I have a wholehearted belief in humanity, in this case it is somewhat counterbalanced by the fact that we have a short and, at times, convenient memory. And, as much as I like fashion, I don’t trust it at all; we all know how changing and staged it is.
The last thing we should do, as buyers, wearers, trend-setters and followers, is to take a successful hashtag for a successful revolution. To confuse digital reach for concrete change. And to believe that the pictures of smiling factory workers from far-away countries, strategically shared on social media, are the all-encompassing reality of an industry in dire needs of clean new undergarments. No. All these are just the beginning and the only thing we should believe in is this:
our questions, our voices, and our shopping habits have the power to help change the fashion industry for the better, and united we are even stronger. (Fashion Revolution)
As consumers, we have to really, truly, and unequivocally understand that only by putting our money where our hashtag is we can make a meaningful and measurable change.
As initiators and agents of change, we have to cross the bridge between online and offline and take the revolution on fertile grounds such as parliaments and courts of law, where it can lead to fair payment, transparency and sustainability laws.
As brands and companies, we should understand that greed is a cul-de-sac whose name is spelled DISASTER and that profit, environmental sustainability, and fair worker treatment are not mutually exclusive but achievable and, above all, necessary.
For all this to happen, Who Made My Clothes? needs to become a question we ask ourselves, brands, and companies all year round, with persistence and a genuine wish to make a substantial difference.
And if we pull it off, the Rana Plaza factory collapse won’t become, for the second time, the victim of corporate indifference and human disregard but a catalyst for good with its own chapter in humanity’s evolution book.
Fashion Revolution is a global movement initiated by ethical fashion pioneers Carrie Somers and Orsola de Castro calling for ethical, sustainable, and transparent practices in the fashion industry.
The movement was born after the Rana Plaza factory collapse, on 24th of April 2013, when 1,134 people died and another 2,500 were injured. Raza Plaza is the fourth largest industrial disaster in history.
Fashion Revolution Week occurs each year, between 18 and 24th of April, to commemorate the tragedy, to raise awareness, and to spark worldwide change for fashion consumers and fashion industry insiders. Click here to learn more about the movement, its initiatives and impact.
Do You Want to Get Involved? Here Is How You Can Make a Difference
Most of the fashion industry is guilty of worker exploitation, environmental degradation, and opaque business practices, and it’s up to us, the people, to create the momentum for authentic change.
You, too, can get involved and make a difference by:
- Asking Questions. Ask the brands you own and love Who Made My Clothes? either via e-mail or on social media by tagging them in your posts and using the #whomademyclothes hashtag.
- Buying Less in Quantity, Better in Quality. Ditch fast fashion and build a timeless wardrobe by purchasing items that are durable, sustainable, and ethically-made.
- Voting with your wallet. Favor brands that provide fair wages, safe working conditions, and are committed to ethical and sustainable practices.
And, above all, remember that Fashion Revolution is not just a week in April. We ARE the Fashion Revolution.