In the wake of last year’s tragic incident of Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, Fashion Revolution Day was born on April 24th. A day that denounces the excesses of fast fashion, and that encourages people to ask themselves "who made my clothes?"
The initiative blossomed from the collaboration of three sustainability gurus: Carry Somers, pioneer in fair trade and ethical fashion, Lucy Siegel, journalist and writer on environmental issues, and Livia Firth, Creative Director of Eco-Age, a company that offers sustainable strategies to businesses.
Up until April 24th 2013, Rana plaza factory housed more than 4000 garment workers employed by 28 different western high street brands. The building had been illegally expanded with the addition of four upper floors and was in no fit-state. But despite the discovering of huge cracks in the building a day before the incident, the factory workers were forced to return to their stations, threatened with losing their jobs. In 90 seconds the building collapsed, killing more than 1000 workers and injuring about 2500 others.
Although Rana Plaza was one of many incidents caused by poor and unsafe work environment, it was the deadliest. This revolting industrial catastrophe provoked outrage among activists and fashion conscious, who declared that “enough is enough.”
As a consequence, Fashion Revolution Day was created to raise awareness about the drawbacks and the cost of fast fashion - the accelerated design cycle used by some high street brands to copy, produce and sell new trends within weeks at a very low price. A process that is prone to result in abusive working conditions and atrociously low wages.
As this initiative triggered my curisosity, I searched through my closet and I found two white tee shirts made in Bangladesh. I immediately wondered: “what if these two tee-shirt were made by the same people who were killed in that Rana Plaza?” I couldn’t help but feel guilty. I then decided to use these tee shirts in my campaign to support Fashion Revolution Day that says: “Made In Bangladesh. Were was yours made?”
Many events took place in London to show support, such as flash mobs, talks from industry insiders and documentary screenings. Handprint, a film commissioned by Livia Firth was screened during eco-designer Eileen Fisher event at her Covent Garden store.
All in all, the question is: what should we, and what can we do as consumers?
It is essential to understand that boycotting brands that outsource in Bangladesh is not a solution. It would result in garment workers to loose their jobs. However, we should be careful and buy from brands for which ethic, sustainability and environmental consciousness is at the core of their business.