This year Fashion Revolution Week will shine a light on the steps needed to bring about revolutionary change at this pivotal point in the history of the fashion industry. Now, more than ever before, the industry is coming under increasing scrutiny and millions of people around the world are expected to participate in Fashion Revolution Week as it moves online 20th – 26th of April.
The Covid-19 crisis has led to major brands and retailers shutting up shops and beyond the devastating human and economic cost of the global coronavirus pandemic, seven years on from the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, human rights abuses, modern slavery and environmental degradation remain rife within the industry.
Fashion Revolution’s focus this year will be on four key areas: Consumption, Composition, Conditions and Collective Action, showing how this unfolding situation is affecting the people who make our clothes, as well as the impact our clothing has on the earth and the oceans. The campaign will highlight what needs to happen to start to rebuild a fashion industry that values people over growth and profit and conserves and restores the environment as we come out of the other side of this global crisis.
On 21 April, the fifth edition of the Fashion Transparency Index will be published, the biggest to date, covering 250 of the world’s biggest fashion brands and retailers. The Index will show which brands are leading the way on transparency, which brands have seen the greatest improvement in their scores, and where there is more work to be done.
This moment proves exactly why transparency in the fashion industry is so vital and why we cannot afford to return to business as usual. If major brands and retailers are publishing information about how they do business with their suppliers, then we can hold them to account in situations like this. The Spotlight Issues of this year’s Index includes a section on brands’ purchasing practices which have come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks.
Carry Somers, Co-Founder and Global Operations Director of Fashion Revolution said: “In the midst of this global pandemic, the need for citizens to hold brands and retailers to account is more pressing than ever before. Over the past weeks, we have seen the devastating impact of brands’ buying practices on some of the most vulnerable workers overseas. Now, more than ever, we need to keep asking #whomademyclothes and hold these brands to account for their actions”.
It is five years since Fashion Revolution launched its first White Paper and on 24 April, the 7th anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, a new White Paper will highlight what the movement has achieved since 2013, why a Fashion Revolution is still needed, and the pathway towards transforming the global fashion industry in the future.
The current pandemic has amplified the fashion industry’s broken model of extreme waste and overproduction, bringing into question the way the entire system works. The theme of this year’s Fashion Question Time Mass consumption: the end of an era couldn’t feel more relevant to the present situation. The annual event, in partnership with the V&A, will be conducted online on 24 April this year. Whilst the coronavirus is increasingly showing how people will support each other at a time of crisis and highlighting ways in which our personal consumption patterns can become more sustainable, the question of how to support the millions of supply chain workers who have already lost their jobs remains largely unanswered.
Co-founder and Creative Director Orsola de Castro. said “It has never been more important to demand accountability and radical transparency from the brands we buy from, and to change our own consumption habits from excessive to efficient. We hope that people all over the world will stay with us this Fashion Revolution Week, and activate with us to ask for empathy and respect: empathy for the people who make our clothes and respect for the planet we all share.”
Fashion Open Studio will be the first international fashion showcase to produce an entirely digital schedule, with a packed programme of events from designers in the UK as well as across 12 countries. Throughout the week, the public will have unique direct access to interact with the designers who embed innovation and sustainability in their design and manufacturing processes. UK designers taking part include Phoebe English, Raeburn, and Bethany Williams and international designers include Kevin Germanier (France), Ka Sha (India), Kowtow (New Zealand) and Emmy Kasbit (Nigeria), Caralarga (Mexico) and Môi Điên (Vietnam). Many designers do not have access to their studios at present, so they are using this digital platform to connect with audiences through workshops and tutorials, conversations and discussions around sustainability with practical solutions and ways to engage creatively. This is a platform that celebrates transparency and shares real and positive solutions to create lasting change in the industry.
Whilst people are in isolation, they are more able and willing than ever to join the online community of fashion revolutionaries and amplify their voices by speaking up together. As in past years, Fashion Revolution will call on citizens to ask #WhoMadeMyClothes? and demand that fashion brands protect the workers in their supply, especially during this unprecedented global health and economic crisis.
A new hashtag has also been launched for Fashion Revolution Week: #WhatsInMyClothes? By introducing a new campaign question and highlighting the findings from Carry Somers' eXXpedition voyage to research microplastic pollution, Fashion Revolution will shed light on the substances hidden in our clothes. As part of this focus on the composition of our clothing, the Fashion Transparency Index will consider brands’ approaches to restricted substances, their commitment to eliminating virgin plastics and the steps they are taking to prevent microplastic pollution.
With changes to its systems and structures, the fashion industry has the potential to provide millions of people with decent and dignified livelihoods and conserve and restore our living planet. To find out more about the campaign, visit www.fashionrevolution.org.
Fashion Revolution is the world’s largest fashion activism movement, founded after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh on 24 April 2013. Fashion Revolution campaigns for a clean, safe, fair, transparent and accountable fashion industry through research, education, collaboration, mobilisation and advocating for policy change movement with country offices and voluntary teams in 90 countries.