Yesterday marked the start of Fashion Revolution Week. Until a few days ago, I had never even heard of it, and I am guessing that many of you haven’t heard of it either. It was brought to my attention through my work with Trades of Hope. Fashion Revolution Week takes place at the end of April each year around the time of the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, which housed several garment factories for many of the largest global fashion brands. Over 1,100 of the 5,000 people inside died, while an additional 2,500 were injured. It marks the 4th largest industrial disaster in history and the start of the Fashion Revolution, one of the largest fashion movements in the world. This week is meant to bring about change in the fashion industry. It is a movement calling for a cleaner, safer, fairer, and more transparent fashion industry. Brands need to be more open about where and how their products are made. There are so many human rights violations when it comes to fashion, and that needs to change. Women make up the majority of those who make our clothes and accessories. Many of them are forced to work in sweatshops for 12-14 hours at a time under horrible conditions and for very little pay. They are not making enough money to support themselves let alone their families. They are treated poorly all so that clothes can be made in the fastest amount of time and for as cheap as possible. This is what we call fast fashion…getting the product out as quickly as possible to the public. This is also how many companies are able to sell their products at discounted prices, which is what many consumers demand. This is not just a problem in other countries, either. It also happens right here in the United States. Fashion Revolution Week is a way to bring awareness to this fast fashion model and how wrong it is. It is bringing awareness for the need to make a change.
There is an alternative to fast fashion. Fashion Revolution Week is a demand for more slow fashion. What is slow fashion you ask? Slow fashion brands are ones that empower the people who work for them by providing clean and safe environments in which to work and also providing a fair and living wage. A living wage means that they earn enough money to provide for themselves and their families and with enough money to also include healthcare and education. Women are not forced to work unimaginable hours under horrible conditions in the slow fashion business model. Many times, brands that are slow fashion will sell out of products. This is because women are not forced to knock out as many shirts as they possibly can in a 14-hour day while their fingers bleed or they are suffering from exhaustion because they haven’t had a break in 14 hours. We as consumers need to change our demand and how we shop so that those fast fashion businesses are forced to make a change. The revolution starts with us. I can assure you that every piece of clothing I own or buy is not all from slow fashion brands or brands that are transparent in how their products are produced. However, I am becoming more and more aware and educated, and I am trying to make better decisions when it comes to things I purchase. That is all I ask of all of you. Let the things we purchase be a representation of the kind of world we want to see. Demand change by being the change. Ask who makes your clothes and accessories and under what conditions they are made to become more educated. Choose to shop smarter and with a purpose. Take a stand for the women who are forced to work in sweatshops. Fight for her with her.
To learn more about the Fashion Revolution, you can visit fashionrevolution.org.