Fashion Revolution Week was founded in response to the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse that killed at least 1,133 people in 2013. This year, it runs from April 19-25. Learn more here.
Fashion Revolution Week 2021
The last year has shown us that desperate times often lead to desperate measures, even in the world of sustainable fashion.
Pandemic supply chain challenges and concerns over dwindling profits resulted in the closure of several indie businesses, most notably Elizabeth Suzann, and a spate of exploitative practices at the multi-national level.
Dozens of businesses cancelled orders that led to unpaid wages for factory workers. Uighur people in China have been enslaved to make clothing for popular global fashion brands. Indian cotton farmers are protesting new agricultural policies. Bangladeshi factory workers can’t get to work. And even ethical businesses laid off dozens of workers at the start of the pandemic, afraid the alternative would be going out of business.
To learn more about the state of the supply chain, read this links:
- Inditex, Uniqlo, Skechers Battle Forced Labor Allegations
- Who are the Uighurs and why is China being accused of genocide?
- PayUp Campaign
- India, Farming, and the Free Market
- Bangladesh keeps garment factories going as lockdown hits
Meanwhile, despite concerns about spiraling profits, fast fashion sales are up, Amazon made $386 billion in revenue last year, and Covid lockdowns continue to contribute to vast overconsumption.
Without in-person community and moral political leadership, consumers have leaned heavily on businesses to provide a sense of identity and ethics. But this also means that companies can exploit activism for their own sales. Greenwashing has run rampant.
Links on Consumerism:
- Amazon’s Net Profit Soars 84% With Sales Hitting $386 Billion
- COVID-19: ASOS profits leap 275% as pandemic restrictions drive fashion sales online
- It’s Time to Stop Looking to Brands to Save Us
- H&M Makes Maisie Williams “Sustainability Ambassador”
- Retailers anticipate a post-pandemic consumption boom
Has anything good happened?
Yes, lots of good things have happened. Companies are making significant inroads on more sustainable textiles. Consumers and brand owners are working toward greater inclusivity. NFT block chain and related technology are building transparency into the supply chain. And dozens of fashion brands have made commitments to becoming more sustainable and ethical.
- What Are the Best Plus-Size Sustainable Fashion Brands?
- This New Technology Could Make Fashion More Traceable
- NFT Supply chain development for transparent inventory and fleet management
- Target to invest 2 billion dollars in Black-owned businesses
- Bill Nye Is Now Guiding Canada Goose’s Sustainability Strategy
- Cactus-Leather Brand Claims Carbon-Negative Status
- Fungi Fashion Is Booming As Adidas Launches New Mushroom Leather Shoe
Fashion Revolution Week 2021: Get Involved
This year’s Fashion Revolution Week theme is Rights, Relationships, Revolution. In past years, activism has focused around the question, “Who made my clothes?” This year, they’ve narrowed it a bit to “Who made my fabric?” in an effort demand greater holistic supply chain transparency.
To get involved:
- Send dedicated emails to your favorite brands
- Post an image on social media, asking brands “Who made my fabric?”
- Send a tweet
- Get more resources here
Notes on Best Practices:
- Don’t re-share images of producers if you can’t guarantee the company had consent to share their images.
- Don’t focus on the power differentials between garment workers and consumers.
- Don’t orientalize (highlight the cultural or ethnic differences) between producers and consumers, and don’t share their trauma stories.
- Don’t shame individual people for their shopping habits.
- Do speak from your own experience.
- Do put the onus on corporations and companies to change their business practices.
See past Fashion Revolution posts
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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.