Fashion Revolution Day is a movement.
On April 24, 2013, 1,133 garment workers in Bangladesh were killed when the building where they worked collapsed. Tags inside indicated that several well-known brands had clothing produced at the site; domestic brands include The Children’s Place, Cato Fashions, and Walmart.
The UN has asked involved brands to compensate families of victims, but most companies refuse to do so, claiming ignorance (cleanclothes.org).
In the year since over 1,000 lives were lost to the fast fashion industry, I’ve seen people start asking questions about where their garments come from, new businesses with transparent manufacturing policies pop up, and fair trade become more trendy. And that’s progress and it’s great, though it’s a crying shame it took something horrific for our voices to rise above the ignorant, self-absorbed chatter.
But the problem with making fair trade trendy is that it implies that it’s something you can choose to adopt or ignore. And as long as people are free to ignore their complicity in human rights atrocities, the industry won’t change. We’re a species of excuses: “there’s nothing we can do about it;” “it’s up to their countries to take care of them;” “it’s too expensive.” But the excuses don’t mean anything at all.
This is about human life. This is about committing to do no harm, about the Golden Rule, about basic human decency. You don’t get to opt out. You’re either building up or tearing down.
Fashion Revolution Day is about turning our muted chatter about a sustainable fashion industry into a loud roar. We’re asked to wear a garment inside out, tags showing, and ask the question: “Who made my clothes?” It’s not an answer, but it opens the door to discussing consumer ethics with anyone we come into contact with on April 24.
So, who made your clothes? Wear your clothes inside out on April 24 and let people know that we’re ready for change.
Get helpful facts about the clothing industry at Fashion Revolution USA.
Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.
Monday 21st of April 2014
Yeah; it can be challenging. I try to keep in mind that every horrible person has likely done something good and every good person has done something destructive, and that we all have to help each other figure out how to care more deeply about people and planet. I try to redirect people in a practical manner rather than an emotional one in person because I don't want people to feel defensive and shut me out.
Saturday 19th of April 2014
I agree with this post and the comment above, so much. Personally, I have a hard time not yelling at people about this. And I can't reconcile these loving people I know and their unethical purchasing habits.
Friday 18th of April 2014
Such a great post. Once you learn about the garment industry in Bangladesh and other countries, you can't ever unlearn it. And clothing is so personal; it hides our nakedness and touches our bare skin. It's made by the hands of real, breathing people. I hate that it took such a tragedy for my eyes to fully open, but it's now something I feel incredibly strongly about. You've helped me to learn about clothing alternatives, and I really appreciate that.