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What is the Fashion Revolution?

27 Apr 2023

What’s the Fashion Revolution?

It’s Fashion Revolution Week! Get yourself acquainted with the global fashion movement that’s taking on fast fashion and ready to save the planet.

It’s Fashion Revolution Week! Get yourself acquainted with the global fashion movement that’s taking on fast fashion and ready to save the planet.

Shall we start with the basics? Fashion Revolution is a global not-for-profit organisation and charity that’s dedicated to creating and promoting sustainability and transparency in the fashion industry. This means getting up close and personal with exactly what our clothes are made from, who made them, and what impact they have on the planet.

We’ve created this handy guide to help you get to know Fashion Revolution and learn all about their mission and history. We’ll show you how you can get involved in the movement (and tell you why you should!).

From farmers to factory workers, brands to buyers, Fashion Revolution encourages asking questions, challenging the norm and learning about the whole process of how clothes end up in our wardrobes. They’re trailblazers in conducting in-depth investigations and raising awareness through hosting workshops and global events.

What is Fashion Revolution?

Let us introduce you to the world’s largest fashion activism campaign. With over 100 countries involved all over the planet, the organisation is a global not-for-profit, and started out here in the UK back in 2013.

From the beginning, the  founders wanted Fashion Revolution to operate as a collective movement, so that it could grow as widespread as possible. That means there isn’t one single leader and instead lots of teams and coordinators work in different countries to lead the change. Designers, teachers, students, press professionals and fashion lovers all play their vital part in the movement, working on their own initiative and spreading the word.

They’ve caught the attention of the celebs too. Over the years some of our favourite eco-conscious celebrities have shown their support and got involved. Emma Watson, Livia Firth and Stella McCartney have all advocated for the charity and used their huge platforms to raise awareness.

Don’t let us get you confused - Fashion Revolution don’t hate fashion - they’re just focussed on celebrating the good bits and trying to change the things that aren’t working for people and the planet (remind you of anyone?). 

History of Fashion Revolution

The charity was founded after the Rana Plaza disaster. The tragedy brought to light the dark side of the fashion industry that a lot of people had never heard about, and highlighted the real need for transparency and accountability. It highlighted how much the fashion industry desperately needed to change. Founders Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro were inspired  to take immediate action and Fashion Revolution was born.

The Rana Plaza Disaster

On April 24th 2013, a clothing factory in Bangladesh called Rana Plaza collapsed, killing and injuring thousands of garment workers - mostly women and their children who were in the day-care facilities. Still to this day it’s considered one of the fashion industry’s biggest tragedies.

At the time of the accident, the building had over 5,000 employees in it, who were working in an illegal sweatshop supplying some of the biggest names in fast fashion. Workers had repeatedly told their bosses about concerns for their safety, and on April 23rd footage of huge structural cracks on the walls aired on local TV. This prompted an immediate evacuation, and the building being declared unsafe for people to enter. Under tight deadlines from fast fashion giants, factory owners threatened the workers to get back to work the next day or lose their jobs. Faced with no choice, many workers returned to the building, which collapsed the very next day.

Fashion Revolution Missions and Goals

The ultimate mission of Fashion Revolution is to build a global fashion industry that values people over profit, and conserves and restores the environment.

Some of Fashion Revolution’s main goals: 

  1. Raising awareness: Fashion Revolution aims to educate shoppers about the impact of their fashion choices and encourage us to make more sustainable choices whenever we can.
  2. Promoting transparency: Their goal is for brands to be honest and clear about what actually goes on in their supply chains and manufacturing, so that we can make sure working conditions are safe and healthy, and people are paid a fair wage all over the world.
  3. Advocating for change: Fashion Revolution put pressure on policy changes that will support creating a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry.
  4. Celebrating sustainable fashion: As well as campaigning against the bad, Fashion Revolution put a big focus on highlighting and celebrating the positive - they raise awareness of fashion brands and designers who have ethical and sustainable practices.

Just like us they want to end throw-away fashion culture, and bring circularity into the fashion industry at every stage. Fashion Revolution have big goals. They aim to end human and environmental exploitation in the industry worldwide, provide safe and dignified working conditions and living wages for every person throughout the fashion supply chain. A lot of their work also involves trying to conserve precious resources and regenerate the ecosystems that have been damaged by years of unsustainable and harmful practices.

Fashion Revolution Day (and Week)

Fashion Revolution Day first launched in 2014, and has grown from just one day a year into the entire last week of April, where people come together from all over the world. Events like fashion shows, panel discussions and workshops are held to raise awareness and push to make changes for a more sustainable fashion industry.

This year Fashion Revolution has launched Talk Climate Change, a hub for recording your conversations about sustainable fashion and the impact we’re having on the planet. You can log onto their virtual map and read conversations that people are having globally, everywhere from boardrooms to bedrooms, about all things climate change. For anyone stuck on how to start having their own meaningful chats, they’ve created a list of helpful conversation starters to get you going.

In the past, Fashion Revolution would publish “Get Involved” guides every year, with ideas on how everyone can take part. This year they’re doing things a little bit differently, asking the community to get creative with their mantra “Be curious, find out, do something.” They’ve shared their ten point manifesto and challenged the global community - that’s me and you - to get familiar with all ten points, and choose one to take action on.

Fashion Revolution’s Hashtag Movements

Social media has played a huge part in spreading the word on Fashion Revolution, over the last ten years, with a number of popular hashtag movements reaching a global audience and getting people involved. 

Some of the most popular include:

#WhoMadeMyClothes - Encouraging people to ask brands about the working conditions their garment workers face. 

#IMadeYourClothes - Used by garment workers to share their stories and experiences.

#Haulternative - Motivating people to find new ways to refresh their wardrobe without buying new clothes, in a bid to combat the toxic haul culture.

Publications and Podcasts

Whether you’re an avid reader, or podcasts are more your bag, Fashion Revolution has great options for you to stay up to date on the latest in sustainable and ethical fashion. Check out the Fanzine Library for articles and interviews, and the Fashion Revolution podcast for in-depth investigations and interviews that get right into the nitty gritty. Before you know it you’ll be the person to go to for what’s really going on in fast fashion, and you’ll be teaching all your friends about slow fashion alternatives to their normal shopping habits.

Schools, College and Universities getting Involved in Fashion Revolution

Fashion Revolution are educators at their core. That’s why they spend so much time getting schools, colleges and universities involved in the movement. Teachers of all levels can find lesson plans and educational resources on their website that make it easy to teach kids and teenagers alike. University students can get involved by organising campaigns and hosting events on campus.

Criticisms of the Movement

While Fashion Revolution has seen huge success in raising awareness about the need for change in the fashion industry, the movement has also faced a fair amount of criticism. Some people have argued that their focus on the individual means that there’s less focus on forcing big businesses to take responsibility. Other critics have suggested the movement is elitist, and only the wealthy can afford to shop sustainably and actually put into practice the sustainable actions.

Fashion Revolution are careful not to dismiss these criticisms, and are using them to constantly evolve and make meaningful change. That means working hard on policy changes to hold brands accountable for their actions and taking steps to become more inclusive. They’ve started working with Garment Worker Organizations and launching diversity initiatives to make sure all voices are being heard.

It’s safe to say Fashion Revolution has had a significant impact on the fashion industry, and have done an amazing job of raising awareness of the environmental and social impacts of fast fashion. They’re very receptive to feedback, and continue to listen and use any critique to push their work forward in creating a more sustainable and equitable future for the fashion industry. 

Fashion Revolution has the potential to create real, impactful change for people and the planet, and we’re proud supporters of the work they do. They’re just getting started, and we’re excited to be working alongside them making the changes and looking after our planet.

Find out more about their manifesto here. If you’re curious about the part we play in sustainability, you can read about our mission and values.

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