We explore our world through material consumption; our clothes are the perfect example of this. They offer us protection, comfort and the choice to fit in or to rebel: what we choose to wear is an expression of our identity and beliefs.
On the 24th of April this year, when the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka collapsed, killing 1133 people, many of them garment workers, we were forced to question what our clothes really say about us.
We have grown used to Fast Fashion and its unbelievable value, but how many of us know at what real cost our wardrobes come? In the days following the collapse, as brands scrabbled to discover if they sourced from factories in Rana Plaza, it became clear that this lack of knowledge is not limited to the public.
Transparency in supply chains is an obvious need, right down to the raw material level. Without knowing where something comes from there is little chance of improvements being made, and poor practices at cut-and-sew factories are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fashion’s global impact.
Companies are beginning to take this on board; from Marks & Spencer’s Plan A to H&M’s Conscious Collection, sustainability is entering the high street lexicon, but much more can be done.
As the buyers of their clothes we have the power to influence the way brands do business and there are increasing ways to voice our opinions. Fashion Revolution Day is one such opportunity; focused on the anniversary of Rana Plaza next April, its campaign seeks to raise awareness of the fashion industry’s issues and show that change is possible by encouraging us to ask of brands “Who makes my clothes?”
Sustainability, too, creates the chance for citizens and designers to shape the future of fashion in previously unexplored ways. The rise in open source data, social media connectivity and at-home technologies, such as 3D printing, point to new avenues of opportunity for us to be involved in the life of our clothes.
Fashion at its best should be an expression of human creativity and skill; we’ve got these in bucket loads, and everyone can help call for a Fashion Revolution!
For more information about Fashion Revolution Day visit the website or follow @fash_rev on Twitter.