Rewind to April 24, 2013. The Rana Plaza building, which housed five garment factories, collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. 1134 workers were killed, and another 2515 were injured.
But this fateful incident did not only have fate to hold responsible for. There was a man-made cause for the disaster: the upper four flours of that eight-storey building had been built without a proper license – illegally. Those workers should not have been risking their lives working in a factory where safety standards were nonexistent.
This incident shocked the community into realizing that the problem wasn’t just with that one building; it reflected the systematic, well-ingrained exploitation and unfair work practices that prevailed in the garment industry at large – globally.
This was the worst ever disaster to hit the garment industry, and it was at this point in time that the Fashion Revolution movement was born. This movement was the brainchild of two women, Orsola de Castro and Carry Somers, both of whom already had loyal associations with small-scale sustainable fashion and transparent fashion campaigns. In 2013, however, the Rana Plaza incident officially triggered not only the birth of an organization, but also a global revolution – what came to be called FASHION REVOLUTION.
What the Fashion Revolution stands for
As soon as it was formed, the Fashion Revolution organization vigorously began to advocate a global appeal, encouraging people everywhere to push for a systemic change in the fashion industry. They called on all fashion brands to ensure transparency in their operations from field to fabric and from seed to waste. This meant open-sourcing site information of each and every field and factory which was part of their supply chain, and releasing a complete, uncensored report analyzing the extent to which sustainable and fair practices were being followed throughout their supply chain.
Once the whole industry felt the increasing pressure and started being called out by their consumers and other humanitarian and environmentalist forces, they would have no choice but to make their sourcing and production locations public knowledge. And in doing so, they would have to remedy any wrong environmental and labor practices lest they be held accountable by the masses, or even by the law.
On their official website, Fashion Revolution says:
“We campaign for a clean, safe, fair, transparent and accountable fashion industry. We do this through research, education, collaboration, mobilization and advocacy… We believe in a global fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profit.”
Carry Somers, the co-founder of Fashion Revolution, adds:
“Most of the public is still not aware that human and environmental abuses are endemic across the fashion and textiles industry and that what they’re wearing could have been made in an exploitative way. We don’t want to wear that story anymore. We want to see fashion become a force for good.”
Now, the end-users or wearers of the fashion industry are changing from passive consumers to conscious consumers, who are concerned about not just what they wear, but its social and environmental footprint too.
They are now concerned about the people making these clothes.
They are unabashedly calling out their favorite brands and asking them: “Who made my clothes?”
Who made my clothes?
There is a lot being asked in that simple-looking question. No one should suffer for the clothing we wear, and so, in asking Who made my clothes, the aim is to hold garment companies accountable regarding who makes the clothes they sell, and if those people are seen, heard and paid properly for their services. It is also crucial to know what kind of working conditions these laborers are made to work in.
Fashion revolution wants the real hands behind our clothes, the workers, to become visible and for their stories to be heard. It is now demanded of brands and retailers to give answers to #WhoMadeMyClothes requests on social media and make their operations transparent to the public.
This question has already contributed more to the impact of the Fashion Revolution than anything else. Simply by encouraging millions of people worldwide to contact fashion brands and ask them #WhoMadeMyClothes, so many brands have been pushed to make information about their supply chain transparent.
Fashion revolution has even made a poster template bearing the question “Who made my clothes?” available on their website for people to download and use with their selfies when they tag brands and retailers on social media, using the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes.
People are urged to do this via multiple platforms including email, Instagram, and Twitter. The fashion revolution website even has a customizable tweet that citizens can post on Twitter. It goes:
“I’m name and I want to thank the people who made my clothes. Hi @brand, #whomademyclothes? Signed, email, country.”
Fashion Revolution Week
Every year, to commemorate the Rana Plaza tragedy, the Fashion Revolution Week is held in the week of April 24. The week features a galore of events and awareness campaigns – the fierce circulation of the #WhoMadeMyClothes hashtag on social media being one of them.
During this week, Fashion Revolution also publishes its annual Fashion Transparency Index which reviews the top 250 fashion brands in the world and scores them with regards to how transparent they are about their social and environmental practices, impact, and supply chain.
Unfortunately, only five brands scored above 60% on the transparency index up till 2019, including Adidas and H&M. No brand scores anything near 100% yet; in fact, they don’t even score past 70%!
This report is a great way to encourage brands to feel accountable. As a positive outcome of this movement, many leading brands such as Marks & Spencer, H&M, Asos, Primark, and Levi’s now publish a list of their suppliers and manufacturers, while more and more socially conscious brands are following suit.
SHENANNZ for Fashion Revolution
At SHENANNZ, we take pride in our highly sustainable and fair brand footprint. We, as producers, are working to promote ethical fashion practices and staunchly believe that no one, from producer to consumer, can be exploited at any cost. We value and empower every human being in the garment supply chain, from field to fabric.
SHENANNZ is not only leading by example with its own brand practices, but also wishes to be the face of the fashion revolution for consumers and other brands, in order to inspire deep-rooted and long-lasting change that will pave the way for a beautiful future for our planet.
Here’s to making fashion fair, transparent, and sustainable!