When shopping for new pieces to add to your wardrobe, do you ever ask yourself, “Who made my clothes?” Or when you’re sewing a new handmade garment, do you ever ask yourself, “Who made my fabric?” On April 24, 2013, the leaders of Fashion Revolution were compelled to ask themselves these questions after 1138 people were killed and many more injured in the tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse. But through tragedy came a revolution – one that focuses on the transparency of the fashion industry and asks the important questions that so often get overlooked.
On the 5th anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, the creators of the revolution are sharing how you can be more action-oriented and solution focused to make a positive impact on the fashion industry.
What is Fashion Revolution?
FR: Fashion Revolution is a global movement calling for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry. We want to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased, so that what the world wears has been made in a safe, clean and fair way.
How has Fashion Revolution changed the fashion industry?
FR: Fashion Revolution has galvanized makers and doers to become more actively engaged in the way clothing is made. People now ask #WhoMadeMyClothes in stronger numbers than ever before, highlighting the need for more transparency and ethical practices within the industry that is so wide-reaching in its effects. Opening up this call to action has ignited real change with brands, companies and more, proving that these issues are of critical importance to consumers.
Why is it important to ask the question, “Who made my clothes?”
FR: The power is with the people. The more individuals who become involved and ask #WhoMadeMyClothes really shows the pressure on brands and companies to be more transparent about their supply chains, manufacturing, treatment of workers, environmental impact and more. These have real effects–brands are changing. Our Fashion Transparency Index, published each year during Fashion Revolution Week, ranks top global brands on their transparency measures, and we look forward to its release this year to see the positive steps that brands are implementing.
How can someone become involved in Fashion Revolution and Fashion Revolution Week on April 22-28?
FR: There are so many ways to get involved! From our Citizen Action Kit to our downloadable posters and graphics, templates for postcards to write to policymakers, and more, the “Take Action” section of our website is a wealth of information. For Fashion Revolution Week specifically there are so many events going on across the globe–and so many opportunities to host one, too! Check out our USA page for more information on how to get involved here in the States.
What tips would you give to someone who is interested in taking a more sustainable approach to their wardrobe?
FR: The best advice once shared with me is, “you don’t have to do it alone!” This is a strong and growing movement with so many different resources at your fingertips including how-to guides, step-by-step tips and tricks, and more from a wide array of individuals.
“There are so many different ways that people interpret the words ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ and no one answer is ‘the best’. Hearing and being open to the perspectives of others in this realm is of the utmost importance.”
What is one thing someone can do each day to make an impact on the fashion industry?
FR: Be more curious and never be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to make small changes – like wearing clothes longer, purchasing clothing packaged in little to no plastic, and more – they all add up to lasting change!
Makers for Fashion Revolution with In the Folds
Are you sewing a handmade wardrobe? Learn how you can incorporate the core values of Fashion Revolution with Emily Hundt, the designer behind pattern company In the Folds and creator of Makers for Fashion Revolution.
What is Makers for Fashion Revolution?
ItF: Makers for Fashion Revolution is a movement that I started to promote the much bigger movement, Fashion Revolution.
Makers for Fashion Revolution takes place at the same time as Fashion Revolution Week (April 22 – 28, 2019) and deals with issues specific to people making their own clothes. As a maker, you probably don’t buy many of your clothes from retailers, but there is still a lot you can do and think about to encourage change in your own making practice and beyond.
What inspired you to start Makers for Fashion Revolution?
ItF: It’s a bit of a long story! It began when I was at university, when I first learned about the ethical and sustainable impacts of the fashion industry. I was surprised and disgusted to learn all the dirty little secrets of the industry. In short, the planet is suffering because of the amount of clothing we buy and then dispose of, and the production processes that are used. Workers in factories are suffering because conditions are unsafe, they are paid poorly and have very few rights. I knew these issues would be a focus of my practice from there on in.
After I graduated, I moved to London, with the dream of interning in the fashion industry. I was lucky enough to do an internship with The Good Wardrobe – an online hub for sharing information on ethical and sustainable fashion. The founder, Zoe Robinson, introduced me to countless inspiring business owners and advocates of a more sustainable fashion industry.
In 2016, soon after I had moved back home to Sydney, I was questioning how I could be a part of Fashion Revolution from afar. I had not yet connected with a community in Sydney that was passionate about these issues like me. My direction had changed from the fashion space to the home sewing space and it got me thinking about how this movement impacts the sewing community too. As makers we are already taking a huge step towards a more sustainable relationship with clothing by making it ourselves, but I realised that there were other issues that were not being talked about in the community very often (such as where our fabrics come from, who is making our fabrics, where our handmade garments are going when we are done with them and the quantity of clothing we are producing, to name a few). I considered hosting a workshop or event and then I realised that I could make more of an impact by hosting an event online so that I could connect with people all over the world and start or continue the conversation with as many makers as possible.
How can someone participate in Makers for Fashion Revolution?
ItF: Each day during Fashion Revolution Week I post a prompt on Instagram to promote thoughts, discussion and inspiration related to a particular aspect of the revolution. If you would like to take part, simply use the hashtag #makersforfashrev, as well as the official Fashion Revolution hashtags – #FashRev and #WhoMadeMyClothes – this way we will all be able to find each other. The vision behind Makers for Fashion Revolution is about starting a conversation that will keep people thinking about it all year round – long after the “challenge” is complete.
How has Makers for Fashion Revolution grown since it was first launched in 2016?
ItF: When I decided to start Makers for Fashion Revolution, I hadn’t put much thought into how much interest there would be in it or how I would spread the word about it. I just knew it was something I had to do. Thankfully though, with the power and reach of Instagram at our fingertips, I put up a post and the rest is history. I was blown away when so many makers and influencers in the community shared the post and encouraged others to take part. I could quickly tell that a lot of people had been thinking about these issues, but just weren’t sure where (or how) to get started. At this point there are over 5000 photos tagged with #makesforfashrev and it is a treasure trove of inspiring and thought-provoking posts.
How do the sewing patterns you design reflect the ethos of Fashion Revolution?
ItF: The design aesthetic embedded in In the Folds patterns leans heavily towards the everyday. They’re pieces that will fit comfortably into your wardrobe, but will stand out with their interesting and refined details – timeless, yet modern – beautiful, yet understated. It is my belief that if garments are made well, we take better care of them, forming stronger bonds and ties with them, cherishing them long into the future. I don’t start (or continue) working on a design without this concept at the forefront of my mind. I aim to create patterns that are ‘work-horses’ that will be made and worn over and over.
By making garments that fit well and make us feel great, we will require less. Through my patterns, I dream of helping makers create a small curated wardrobe of garments that they can be proud of and feel comfortable to wear daily.
8 Tips for Building a Sustainable Wardrobe with In the Folds
- Think about where your fabric is coming from and who is making it.
- Stick to natural fibers where possible
- Sew from your stash.
- Slow down!
- Make do and mend.
- Go to clothing and fabric swaps.
- Make for others when you have enough in your wardrobe.
- Make plans. Don’t buy things impulsively.
Join the Spoonflower team and help spread the word during Fashion Revolution Week, April 22-28, 2019, by downloading your free Who Made / I Made My Clothes posters here and sharing your pictures on social media.