Fashion Revolution Day marks the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 24, 2013, which killed 1,134 garment workers, most of them female, and injured more than 2,500 more.
Be honest with me. Do these figures really affect you?
They’re shocking and horrific, sure, but once you’ve said your “awes” and “that’s so sad” what else? What next? It’s hard to really, truly know what happened on April 24, 2013 during that awful event. We can only be so sad and affected before we’re called back to our present realities and off to the next thing.
This is an unfortunate reality of distance. Bangladesh is so far away from me, from many of you, our sympathy and understanding can only reach so far across the ocean and can only last for so long. But Fashion Revolution Day asks us to remember, every year, just as we do Remembrance Day. Remember the fallen, and realize that their death was a result of several terrible injustices all rolled into one catastrophe waiting to happen. A corrupt government, inadequate building codes, a disrespect for health and safety regulations, careless landlords, exploited workers, demanding fast fashion clients and greedy consumers.
We may live halfway across the world from this tragedy, but we’re linked to it. We all are, every last one of us. Directly or indirectly, our conditioned need for more, faster and cheaper has helped build a mass-produced world in which countries race to the bottom to offer low wages and first-world shoppers race to get their hands on the latest exclusive collections at H&M or Target.
This is why Fashion Revolution Day is so important and so influential. It’s an annual global call to action, a call to remember the tragedy, and to push our own consumer behaviour to make change, and push industry to make change – all to ensure that this sort of thing never happens again.
More change needs to happen, but some change has begun. More certainly needs to be done, but I’m happy to be blogging about ethical and sustainable fashion in this day and age, at a time when I can feel growing rumblings of discontent among consumers, designers, manufacturers, you name it, I feel it.
All last week, hundreds of thousands of people – men and women, bloggers, journalists, designers, every day people and everyone in between took the time to honour the victims and lend their voices to ask: #whomademyclothes?
The success of this three-year-old initiative is plain to see. Several fast fashion companies have answered the collective question and I hope that more will follow suit. This campaign is also incredibly effective at rallying people to the cause, educating them and making it easy for them to know the facts and spread the word. Knowledge is, after all, power. The more we support ethical and sustainable designers, the more positive change we demand from the fashion industry, the more good, honesty, respect and transparency we’ll see come out of it.
To mark yesterday’s anniversary, I hosted Angela Wallace of Sasstainable in a Twitter talk: #ChatSasstainable. For an hour, I posed questions to Angela, which she wittingly replied to, and to our delight, more joined in.
It was important for me and Angela that this chat not be an echo chamber of like-minded people praising each other and regurgitating what the other had just said. Below are the questions we posed and I invite you to check out the chat stream to see what was said. I’d be delighted to have you send me your own answers in the comments section below.
Angela and I will plan to host another one once EITHER/OR is up this September. In the meantime, keep asking “#whomademyclothes?” and choose wisely.