When the Rana Plaza factory building collapsed on the outskirts of Dhaka in Bangladesh on 24 April 2013, killing more than 1,130 people, Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro were moved to co-found the not-for-profit global fashion activism initiative Fashion Revolution. Calling for the systemic reform of the fashion industry with emphasis on the need for greater transparency in the supply chain, the movement poses the question: #WhoMadeMyClothes?
Fashion Revolution Week, which runs 22-28 April to mark the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy, presents a calendar of agenda-setting events, talks and workshops promoting awareness of the ethical issues still prevalent in the fashion industry. It’s no guilt-fest, but a positive and solution-oriented seven days, with the reach you’d expect of a movement that has teams in over 100 countries.
Whether you’re already a conscious shopper, work in the fashion industry, or simply want to glean more perspective on the choices you make as a consumer, there’s something here to pique your interest and transform the way you think about fashion.
Here are five ways to get involved…
Take part in Fashion Question Time at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Got a burning question? Join the audience at FRW’s Question Time, which returns to the V&A to debate this year’s theme – tomorrowland: how innovation and sustainability will change the fashion panorama. A stellar panel chaired by Baroness Lola Young Hornsey will bring together industry leaders from the fashion world, government, and academia, including Mary Creah (MP and Chair of the Environment Audit Committee), Laura Balmond (Project Manager of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation), Mark Sumner (Lecturer in Sustainability, Fashion & Retail at the University of Leeds) and Nina Shariati (Transparency and Innovation Expert, H&M). Tickets are free via Eventbrite, with donations encouraged. Questions should be emailed to RSVP@fashionrevolution.org ahead of the event.
24 April 10am-12pm, free
Catch a screening of ground-breaking short film The True Cost
Directed by Andrew Morgan, this thought-provoking documentary weaves together the true story of clothing, from factory to shop floor, shining a light on the real costs of the fashion industry. Filmed around the globe – in polished design studios, on world-famous catwalks and in forgotten slums – its talking heads include the likes of Stella McCartney and Livia Firth, giving the viewer an insight into people, places and practices behind the contents of our wardrobes.
Learn how to mend and upcycle clothes with one of FRW’s masterclasses
With 85% of clothes ending up in landfill (despite the fact that 95% of discarded clothing can actually be recycled or upcycled) and simple skills like darning in decline, learning how to mend and upcycle clothing is a great way of lengthening the life of your favourite items. Partners of FRW, such as Exeter’s Sancho’s, Malta Society of Arts, Switzerand’s Nähwerk IDM and Manifeste001 Boutique in Paris, host regular upcycling and repair masterclasses throughout the year, teaching skills like embroidery, patching, tie-dying and sewing.
Marie Kondo your belongings with an online capsule wardrobe workshop
A capsule wardrobe – that illusive thing referenced by stylists and hosts of primetime makeover shows – promises to transform your everyday fashion choices with mix-and-match items that can be reassembled in multiple ways for all occasions. Learn how to create your own with the help of this live online workshop by eco-wardrobe expert, Kalkidan Legesse, and stylist, Roberta Juxon-Keen. In this interactive session, viewers can engage and ask questions as Legesse and Juxon-Keen give accessible advice on how to simultaneously strip back and maximise on the contents of your wardrobe. Cost effective, practical and a brilliant exercise in learning to covet the items you already own – before donating the rest to charity, of course.
April 23, 7-8pm, free
Sign the Fashion Revolution Manifesto
To show your support and call for a #FashionRevolution, you can sign the Fashion Revolution Manifesto, which breaks down the initiative’s agenda into ten goals – among them, that fashion provide fair and equal pay, conserve and restore the environment, and be transparent and accountable. There’s also the option to sign up to the FRW newsletter, for updates on key events and industry insight.
Words: Mary-Jane Wiltsher