Guys, I admit… I’m a pretty obnoxiously optimistic person and this blog tends to be an extended arm of that. I mean after all, who really wants to read dreary stuff? But that is the problem. There is no way to say what I’m about to say nicely, positively, or without beating around the bush. I’m going to tell you guys the harsh reality of fast fashion, why we should care, and end with positive ways we can fix the industry. Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Five years ago 1,100 lifeless bodies were pulled underneath the rubble from the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse.
After countless complaints the factory was unsafe, the factory was still operated in. Workers even asked to not return to work because of these unsafe work conditions and when they spoke up they were told that a month’s pay would be withheld if they did not return next day. The next day, more than a thousand of them lost their lives and 2,500 of them were critically injured when the building collapsed.
Brand name fast-fashion and designer brands such as Walmart, JC Penny, and Primark were finally in the spotlight for their unjust work practices and thousands of people were angered at the thought that their clothes were the reason for such injustices.
In 2013, I was a senior in college worrying about stupid high school things. I don’t even remember this being in the news and that is the problem. We all need to be informed about the injustices of where our clothes are made. Whether that be the environmental, social, or economic factors we need to know them all. By knowing more information about what happened at Rana Plaza and hundreds of other factories around the world we can make conscious shoppers.
So what is Fashion Revolution Week?
Since then the Rana Plaza factory collapse, people from all over the world have been using their voices to tell brands that things must change… and it is working. The industry is starting to change. With that said, Fashion Revolution Week is April 23-29th and the idea is it that people ask more questions and learn about sustainable fashion. This could mean asking leading brands in the industry where their clothes came from or even joining workshops about sustainable fashion. The end goal is both the same: we need to change the fashion industry for the better.
One thing that hit me really hard in this movement was the idea that there are 40 million garment workers in the world and about 85% of them are female. They are some of the lowest paid workers in the world and are constantly faced with unsafe work conditions. With that said, fast fashion brands like H&M, TopShop, and Zara all make feminist slogan t-shirts where their female garment workers are not paid equally, do not receive maternity leave, and constantly face unsafe work conditions. Does that really sound like feminism to you?
So what the heck can we do?
During the Fashion Revolution Week, we are asked to contact our favorite stores and ask them the simple question “who made my clothes.” Here are all the different ways you can ask fashion brands who made your clothes. Note: this isn’t meant to be rude to these brands. This is meant to create awareness and an ongoing conversation about sustainable fashion. Good things do not come out of negativity.
Write an email or send a postcard to your favorite fashion brands asking them who makes their clothes
It’s important to have an ongoing conversation with fashion brands. This is not meant to call them out but instead to inform them that you care and it matters who makes the clothes. Once brands know more people are caring about who is making the clothes and where they are coming from they will change their policies. You can write your own or print out Fashion Revolution’s premade cards here. You can also download the app Good on You to send emails directly from the app. It takes less than a minute on the app!
Post on your social media #whomademyclothes
You can follow the hashtag to see what companies are being asked and you can add your voice to it. The best part about asking companies on social media is that you’re getting more people aware of the issue and what is happening behind the store doors. The whole movement is really about getting people informed.
Become more informed on what is happening around you
I highly recommend watching the True Cost on Netflix for more information on the overall structure of what is happening behind the store doors. I also recommend listening to the podcast Conscious Chatter by Kestrel Jenkins to hear what people who are in the slow fashion industry are saying. Lastly, follow bloggers, read, research, and engage. The change starts with you. I’ll be showing a few of my favorite bloggers on my Instagram later this week and doing a blog recap next week with all of their blogs listed. Be sure to check back for that.
Lastly, support the brands who respond to your questions and are becoming more transparent… they are setting the example for everyone else.
You can find companies that are responding to the movement with the hashtag #imadeyourclothes but you can also download the app Good on You to find out how your favorite companies are ranked. I was pretty bummed about a few of my favorite companies so I would definitely check that out.
I’ve been reaching out to companies all week on my Instastories and on the app Good on You. Here are two examples of how I’ve asked big companies on my Instastory:
Overall, we all are in this together. Whether we’re trying to help the environment or the social structure of garment workers, we have an obligation to put our money where it matters. Plus, it adds an extra conversation piece to your outfit which is always a huge bonus.
Have you heard about the Rana Plaza Collapse or Fashion Revolution Week? What companies do you want to ask “who made my clothes?” Let me know in the comments down below.