(ENG only) Yesterday (27thApril 2019) I had the chance to attend the Fashion Revolution demonstration in Berlin, organized by Fashion Revolution Germany to raise awareness around the many issues caused by fast fashion and to demand more transparency, equity and sustainability in the fashion industry, its policies and production systems. This is why Fashion Revolution was born in the first place.
On April 24th2013, the Rana Plaza complex in Bangladesh collapsed killing 1138 people and injuring more than 2500: they were all employed as garment workers for fast fashion brands under unsafe, dangerous and unhealthy conditions. This could have easily been avoided if the owners of the factory wouldn’t have ignored the already precarious safety conditions of the building. Rana Plaza is the biggest disaster ever happened in the fashion industry and the fourth largest industrial one. That’s when Fashion Revolution was born as a global movement, to make sure that these people’s lives weren’t lost in vain, to prevent something this tragic from happening again and guarantee that some actual changes towards transparency and fair practices will be something we will all be able to rely on a large scale.
The “Join the Fashion Revolution- Join the Move” demonstration in Berlin on April 27th 2019.
Today is the last day of Fashion Revolution Week, but this doesn’t mean that the movement stops and that we cannot keep on doing our part. We can all be Fashion Revolutionaries if we want to. We as consumer have an immense power in our hands and in the way we decide to spend our money. The FR movement is growing stronger and stronger, by recruiting more and more citizens/consumers, brands, retailers, VIPs, journalists and various supporters that want to get involved: fashion brands are realizing that there is a strong demand for changes and if we keep on raising our voices, things will definitely go towards the right direction and will transform fashion into a thriving, more transparent, fair and sustainable industry.
Here are 10 simple ways to be a Fashion Revolutionary all year around and promote a better fashion.
- Buy less, choose well, make it last. This statement by the fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has become the Fashion Revolution slogan. One of the best ways to do your part is to buy less garments in the first place and use more what you have (just the 20% of people’s clothes tend to be worn on average), choose them carefully and opt for timeless pieces that are good quality (instead of chasing fleeting trends and buy cheap, poorly made garments) and take good care of them to make them last as long as possible.
- Use the hashtag #whomademyclothes on social media. Ask the brands to tell you more about the garments you’re wearing by showing the labels and tagging the brands in your posts.
- Write to brands. Just like posting on social media, you can write letters or emails asking for clarifications on their production chains, suppliers, working conditions etc. If you don’t get answers, keep on asking for more information: transparency should be the rule and not the exception.
- Take action and be an activist, whatever this means to you. Check the local events organized in your area on the Fashion Revolution website; support local businesses and retailers; attend conferences and seminars about ethical sustainable fashion; participate in clothing swaps or organize one if there aren’t any available where you live (you can find some tips on how to host the perfect swap party here); surround yourself with like minded people with which you can take action together and organize events, screenings, readings, workshops.
- Stay informed. This might be considered as an essential part of being an activist, but I think it deserves its on mention and spot in this list. Read articles, blogs, magazines, books and watch documentaries and videos about the topic. Learn as much as possible and share it others.
- Repair, DIY, repurpose. Make sure to extend the lives of your garments as much as possible by repairing the small imperfections that might show due the wearing or find a way to repurpose your clothes into something new: you can turn them into something completely different (if you have good sewing skills you can make it yourself, otherwise find yourself a good tailor) or make some simple alterations and adjustments. Landfills are more than saturated with old garments, so the last thing we want to do is to buy new stuff before the old ones got used enough.
- Make a #haulternative. Instead of supporting and promoting the social media culture of the classic “hauls” (which are basically videos in which influencers showcase their massive shopping sprees in fast fashion stores, encouraging mass consumption and a “let’s treat clothes as cheap disposables” mindset), show people your amazing finds from flea markets and thrift stores, ethical sustainable brands/stores and/or things you made yourself. Or you can also shop your own closet and give clothes that you normally don’t wear much a second chance.
- Share the Fashion Revolution website and social media profiles as much as possible. Keep on spreading the positive message that FR is carrying all year around. Share with your friends and family members, co workers, strangers. The more people will know about the FR movement and its goals, the better.
- Ask for changes to the local policy makers. Let your voice be heard and ask for more transparency and policies that will be beneficial for anyone involved in the fashion industry in you own country. You can also create petitions if the local government still hasn’t take any action or decision on this matter. Like Lisa Jaspers, founder of the Berlin based brand Folkdays, made here in Germany for example, by launching a petition on change.org for a new law that obligates German companies to be fully liable for what happens within their production. (if you live in Germany you can sing the #fairbylaw petition here if you still haven’t. Thank you).
- Share your clothing love story. Instead of buying new garments, fall in love again with what’s in your wardrobe already, pick an item that is particularly special to you and share its story. Encourage more responsible consumption habits instead of mindless ones and highlight how taking good care of our clothes and making them last through the years and phases of our lives can turn our wardrobes into something special in which we can identify ourselves.
Me at the FR demonstration.
Being a part of that demonstration yesterday filled my heart to brim with genuine hope and positivity: lately so many things are happening in the ethical sustainable world and there has been an amazing response that policy makers and companies definitely cannot ignore any longer. Every positive action that is happening in terms of climate change, less trash and less disposables, sustainable policies adopted by more and more companies, environmental awareness, more availability of ethical sustainable options, ethical responsible consumption is gaining more and more attention. Greta Thunberg and her activism, Exctition Rebellion, the Zero Waste movement and Fashion Revolution are just some examples of how impactful our choices can be if we keep on raising our voices together, share what we know and lead by example. It doesn’t have to be complicated but we can definitely be Revolutionaries every day. It’s up to us to remember what happened, learn from the past and act accordingly.