Fashion Revolution Week
We've all been guilty of fast fashion crimes. The notion of finding that bargain - of trumping the system! - appeals to each of us. But at what cost?
On April 23, 2013, the owners of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh ignored blatant warning signs to stop using the five-storey commercial building.
Rana Plaza was primarily filled with garment workers and the mounting popularity of fast fashion had resulted in increased pressure to meet shortened production deadlines.
On April 24, Rana Plaza collapsed.
This needless tragedy resulted in the death of 1,134* people and more than 2,500 injured. It is considered to be the deadliest garment factory accident in history.
Businesses like Zara’s parent company - Inditex group - produce more than 450 million items per year, with new designs appearing in stores twice a week.
This fast fashion delivery has resulted in an unsustainable and unhealthy mindset of expendable consumerism. We blindly flock to buy low-priced ‘fashion’, giving no thought to where they came from - and why they’re so cheap. Fashion has become disposable. Temporary. The victimless crime.
Yet, thanks to some vanguards in the fashion industry, that mindset is starting to change . . .
In remembrance of the Rana Plaza disaster, April 22 to 29 is Fashion Revolution Week 2019, which aims for greater transparency in the fashion supply chain by encouraging consumers to ask brands #WhoMadeMyClothes?
We chatted with leading fashion pioneers to learn more about mindful consumerism.
ORSOLA DE CASTRO, Co-founder + Creative Director, Fashion Revolution:
Not at all. In fact, it increases it. First of all, style is innate and it really is about the joy to throw anything together with confidence. Personally, some of the best dressed women I know wear a mix of vintage and clothes that are loved. Having a feeling for the clothes you inhabit creates style, as opposed to wearing what is dictated by the fashion press or the latest trends.
Secondly, there are plenty of amazing designers who put ethics and sustainability at the forefront of their practices, so there are no excuses not to explore what sustainable style looks like these days.
CLARE PRESS, Sustainability Editor, Vogue Australia:
Quite the reverse. There are so many beautiful ethically and sustainably produced labels out there, it’s never been a better time to wear your values. It feels like everyone’s talking about how chic sustainability is right now, which I love obviously. Caring is a good look! The reverse is also true.
Ilona Hamer, Fashion Director, Unconditional Magazine:
Not at all. Simply by buying vintage or from a consignment store is a huge step in the right direction for sustainability. With websites like The Real Real and Vestiaire Collective, its actually never been easier to buy designer at lower prices which in turns extends each pieces’ life cycle and gives you a thrill when you find something you missed out on.
Christina Dean, Founder + Chair, Redress, Co-Founder + CEO, R Collective:
No, I’d say the opposite! ‘Style’ is a very difficult trait to pin down – as it’s an intrinsic representation of who we are. But at its core, to me, style is about personally reflecting our values, and with that our aspirations through our clothing to the world. Fashion is just ‘fashion’ but style is lanced with our individuality and personality.
I’m a strong believer that we are all good - we care for the planet and for people - and so for me dressing in a more sustainable and ethical way is one of the most important factors that must be woven into our personal expression of ‘style’. Increasingly, people of all walks of fashion life, from luxury lovers to fast fashion lovers, are beginning to realise that style can come with heart and soul.
Three things to change our mindsets when it comes to shopping?
Nail in the new mantras of:
'less is more'
'quality over quantity'
and 'let’s shop our way into a better future'.
These three mantras ensure we become more aspirational when we shop so that we find and wear clothes that reflect our best hopes in the world.
Use the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes
Use the hashtag #LovedClothesLast
And remember that your wardrobe IS a part of the fashion supply chain, so you have the power to make intelligent choices that will have a positive effect on people and planet.
Choose eco-responsible fibres - recycled, organic, responsible dyes. Do your research to find out who’s using them
Vote with your wallet for brands that are transparent about their supply chains and support ethical production
Extend the life of the clothes you have, repair them, store them well, alter them if needs be, love them!
New is not always better. Vintage or second hand is often far more charming and interesting
You never need anything new, it's a want or desire. Work out where that is coming from and why before you buy. Chances are, you really don’t need it but it's stemming from another hole in your life you are trying to fill
Go shopping in your own wardrobe. Clean it out, look for things you haven’t worn in a while that you can re appropriate to whats going on in fashion now!
A mindful consumer
is a person who . . .
Ilona: . . . Understands where their pieces are coming from, who is making them, the impact they have and why they are buying them.
Christina: . . . Shops from the heart!
Orsola: . . . Consumes! Consumer comes from the Latin word ‘consumere’, which means to wear out, to use up. So consume properly.
Clare: . . . Quite literally thinks before buying. Now, your reaction to that might be, ‘Well of course, daft woman! Who doesn’t think before they buy something? HELLO?’ But you’d be surprised. There are loads of studies that reveal the extent of impulse shopping, including this one that shows 84% of Americans make impulse purchases, or this one that shows clothes top the list of impulse buys for British shoppers. When we slow down and shop more mindfully, we’re more likely to buy things we really appreciate, and feel properly invested in. Don’t get me wrong, I love fashion shopping, but I’m not interested in buying clothes to throw away.