A Fashion Revolution has been Sparked

by Sarah Ditty 1 year ago
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On Friday last week, thousands of people took to the Internet and to the streets to challenge the way the fashion industry works.

24th April 2015 marked two years since 1,133 people died in the Rana Plaza catastrophe in Dhaka, Bangladesh. A further 2,500 were injured. They were killed while working for familiar fashion brands in one of the many ‘accidents’ that plague the garment industry.

Fashion Revolution Day was launched to keep the most vulnerable in the supply chain in the public eye and to make sure a tragedy like Rana Plaza never happens again.

By asking consumers, designers, brands, and all those who care to ask a simple question “Who Made My Clothes?” Fashion Revolution aims to change the narrative around clothing and to inspire a permanent and positive change in the fashion industry.

If last week’s events showed us anything, it’s that this revolution has been sparked. There were over 1,000 blogposts and articles written about Fashion Revolution Day circulating the internet in April – from CNN, Forbes, and Entrepreneur to Elle, Vogue and Glamour. The media reach was staggering, figures show that Fashion Revolution content was viewed over 14 billion times. In digital marketing land, this reach would equate to a cost of at least $60 million. Fashion Revolution reached millions of people without a single dollar. Clearly, the world wants to know that what they wear has not been made at the expense of the people who made it.

Governments are beginning to pay more attention too. Responsibility in garment supply chains has been put on the agenda at both the regional and international level. The European Commission has launched a multi-stakeholder forum on responsible management of the supply chain in the garment sector, with a mixed representation of business, civil society, and Member States. The G7 also recently held a high level meeting to discuss putting sustainable supply chains on the agenda for June’s Summit in Germany. Members of Fashion Revolution, including me, have been involved in those talks.

An Italian MEP called upon the European Commission just last week for new EU rules on traceability and transparency in the textiles and clothing sector, including legislation that would require businesses to conduct due diligence with regard to human rights. One thing has become clear: the time to agree a set of global common standards has finally come and these standards ought to be made legal requirements.

Both the European Commission and G7 Foreign Ministers want to be seen to be tackling these issues. Of course, they’ve got to do more than just be seen to be doing something. Governments have to put their words into action if they’re going to convince the millions of people who took part in Fashion Revolution Day.

Next year, Fashion Revolution Day is set to reach even more people. Brands, retailers and governments should expect to keep facing this pivotal question: “who made my clothes?” And we’ll keep asking until we all get real answers.

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By Sarah Ditty, Fashion Revolution – Global Coordination Team, Head of Policy


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