Fashion Revolution Week (FRW) happens every year in the week of the 24th April. The 24th April is the date of the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013; one of the biggest industrial disasters in history.
The Rana Plaza was a building in Bangladesh which housed some major garment factories for some of the biggest fashion brands. It employed around 5000 people and more than 1100 people died when the factory collapsed and an additional 2500 people were injured. Many of the victims were young women.
Every year FRW has a different theme to highlight how problematic and damaging the fast fashion industry is. 2021’s theme is Rights, Relationships and Revolution.
Human rights and the rights of nature are interconnected and interdependent; we are all part of the wider living world and our right to a healthy environment depends on the health of our planet. As a result, this year FRW is calling for a radical shift in our relationships. Our relationships with each other, with our clothes, within fashion supply chains and with the natural world.
What is fast fashion?
Fast fashion is on the rise. Many of us are now shopping more as clothing becomes cheaper to buy and new trends and collections are now dropping more often.
To keep up with this demand clothes are produced quickly and cheaply. This fast production of clothes also means that we are now not keeping pieces for very long; perhaps only 2-3 years. We are buying clothes to throw away and replace instead of perhaps investing in high quality pieces that will stand the test of time.
Consumption has now become so popular that it is now considered ‘bad’ if you wish to repeat an outfit. It is this attitude and increase in consumerism that has led to fast fashion.
Most fast fashion brands will also manufacture where labour is cheapest. Workers often face low wages and poor working conditions without fundamental human rights. There is often no transparency into these brands’ supply chains.
Fast fashion also has a disastrous impact on our planet and environment. These cheap, low quality materials need huge quantities of water to produce which depletes many critical water supplies. Additionally, they use toxic chemicals to dye textiles which leads to mass pollution of natural water supplies.
There are many fabrics to look out for when purchasing your clothes that are kinder to people and planet.
Organic Cotton – Compared to conventional cotton, organically grown cotton uses much less water. Organic cotton tends to be grown in rain-fed areas where farmers will rely on the rain to water their crops instead of depleting the water from other sources. There are also no chemicals used in the growing of organic cotton such as pesticides that will pollute the ground. Due to the lack of chemicals used, clothing made from organic cotton also tends to be softer and better for our skin.
Linen – Linen is one of the oldest and natural fabrics in the world. Linen can grow without the use of harmful chemicals and pesticides. Also, the flax plant that linen comes from needs little water to grow and can rely on just rainwater. Linen is also extremely lightweight and breathable.
Bamboo – Bamboo fabrics are eco-friendly and sustainable. Bamboo is known to grow quickly without the use of chemicals and pesticides. It also does not need large amounts of water to grow. As it grows quickly, that means that there is not a shortage of the plant; it is able to regenerate itself. Bamboo fabrics have many anti-bacterial properties making it absorbent and breathable.
These are just some of the sustainable fabrics you can look out for when trying to find more sustainable pieces. Some of our favourite brands who use ethical fabrics such as the ones above and more are Nomads Clothing, People Tree and Thought Clothing.
What is the link between fast fashion and climate change?
The fashion industry is now one of the most polluting in the world. Not only is it effecting the lives of the workers producing the clothes it is having a massive impact on climate change.
The amount of water that is needed to grow conventional cotton is vast and often takes from natural sources such as lakes and rivers that are vital to many communities. As well as this, a large amount of toxins and chemicals are used to produce clothes that also end up being discarded in these water supplies, endangering our environment, people and wildlife. It is also the countries that are contributing the least to climate change that are disproportionately affected by it.
Now that we are producing more clothes than ever the number of greenhouse gases that are emitted continues to rise. We are also now throwing more and more items of clothing away with a large proportion going to landfill.
This is why this year’s Fashion Revolution Week is focussing on relationships. We cannot allow big businesses to profit whilst supply chain workers struggle to live in dignity. A revolution is needed for our own prosperity and wellbeing and for the health of our earth and oceans.
Collaboration and mutual support are essential and we are more powerful when we all work together.
Why not ask your favourite fashion brand #whomademyclothes?