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26 Dec

Join The Fashion Revolution

We all have the power to change the fashion industry for the better — here's how we can work to ensure that the clothes we love are made by workers paid a fair wage and working in safe conditions. Here's why we're joining the Fashion Revolution.

 

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BIKINI: What is Fashion Revolution? 

HEATHER KNIGHT: Fashion Revolution was [inspired by] the Rana Plaza collapse, which was in April 2013. 1138 workers were killed, and hundreds more injured. We wanted this day to stand for something.

Carry Somers, who is our founder, had the idea that we needed to have a fashion revolution, so that Rana Plaza never happens again. We get as many people [as possible] to ask 'who made my clothes,' so that brands can provide transparency throughout their supply chain. If you can’t see the problems in the supply chain, then you don't see the problem. Most brands nowadays don’t share their supply chain; they're very closed and private about it.

There are so many issues on the social, environmental side that we need radical transparency to make the fashion industry fair, cleaner, and safer for everyone working in it. We’ve been going on six years now. A lot has happened, but there's still so much that needs to change.

 

 

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BIKINI: Can you explain why the Rana Plaza collapse impacted the fashion industry so much?

HK: The Rana Plaza complex [contained] many factories with garment workers — mostly young women between 18 and 24. The tragedy could have been prevented; there had been cracks in the wall which had been reported by many workers.

 

 

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BIKINI: Are brands aware of some of these factory conditions? 

HK: The Rana Plaza factory was a big wake up call because many [brands] had to scramble to figure out if they were connected [to the factories within the complex]. Many brands don’t know who their first-tier factories are, let alone their second tier. One of the biggest issues in the supply chain is subcontracting, in which a brand might [contract directly with] one factory, but that factory may send that work to another factory, which can do the work cheaper and faster.

[Consumers] are pushing these factories to work faster and faster and cheaper and cheaper, and it's the workers that are paying the price. The factories can’t always keep up. The problem with subcontracting is that there's very little regulation, and it's very difficult to manage health and safety standards if you don’t even know which factories you are using. So the entire system is broken.

 

 

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BIKINI: Change begins with the demand of the consumer, correct?

HK: Right. We don’t realize how much power we have. Brands really want to know what we want to buy — their profit depends on it. We can ask for better, fairer fashion. If [brands] see that their customers want that, then they'll have to produce that.

We’ve seen throughout the years of campaigning that the more people ask, the more brands respond. That's very exciting.

 

 

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BIKINI: Have you seen a drastic change from a year ago to now?

HK: Yes, completely. There’s a lot of work being done now; we see more and more brands respond to our campaign.

[Other] brands, though, are still not responding. Five years ago, it was very difficult for a brand to tell you [which] factories they [use]. We find that no brands tell you where their raw materials are coming from. This is for the top 100 brands; they [often] wouldn’t be able to tell you where the cotton comes from or the [provenance of the] hides of the cow. 

 

 

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BIKINI: How do you trust that they are being honest?

HK: The thing we are pushing for is transparency. We want them to publish information publicly, so we can check that. To be transparent is to be accountable. If brands share information about the supply chain, it opens up the opportunity for people to go and check that. 

 

 

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BIKINI: To inspire some change and get consumers to buy more responsibly, you launched the “Who made my clothes?” campaign. Can you talk more about that — and add any tips for buyers?

HK: The easiest way to take part in the Fashion Revolution is by asking brands, "Who made my clothes?" It's such a simple and easy question. The more you ask, the more brands will respond. You can start by looking at your clothing label — what is [the garment] made of? Pay attention to how to care for it.

You also really want to start loving your clothes. One of our challenges is our "love story" challenge. We want people to fall back in love with the clothes they already have by recommitting to them and sharing their love for them. It could be a piece of art, a poem, a photo — however you want to express your love for your clothes.

We also have a challenge which offers eight different ways to refresh your wardrobe without buying new. So you can buy second-hand, vintage, or trade with friends — it's a really easy way to change your shopping habits, but also to have a very creative wardrobe. Fashion Revolution’s mantra is to be curious and find out and do something — start by asking questions or talking about it with your friends. Do research and take action. Start your journey into a less wasteful shopping habits.