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Fashion with a conscience

Previews Fashion Revolution Day – 24 April 2014

Hasina Momtaz: Have you ever wondered where your Gap jeans are made? Or who makes the Primark shirt you’re wearing? Or that favourite little black dress you love from Next? Or whether the people who make our clothes for us are getting a fair wage and are provided with decent working conditions?

Like most people; probably not. Whether you’re a fan of designer labels or love your bargains, you may look at the brand name – but not many people look at the label to see where top name fashion houses and high street brands produce and manufacture their clothes.

Now a Board composed of key figures from the fashion industry and beyond – industry leaders; press; campaigners; consultants; representatives from charities and campaign organisations; academics and more – has come together to get us thinking about these very issues. They have created Fashion Revolution Day, and the first one takes place this year, on 24th April. On this day, which marks one year following the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Fashion Revolution Day aims to honour the lives of the 1,133 sweatshop labourers killed and over 2,500 injured as a result of unsafe working conditions.

Fashion-Revolution-Day-2But it is more than just one day: Fashion Revolution Day is a worldwide movement demanding fair treatment of workers in the garment industry. The aim is to create justice and transparency in the global fashion supply chain.

The organisation’s mission statement says that they believe in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure. The aim of the Board is to bring everyone together to make that happen. In order to achieve that, every year on 24th April, Fashion Revolution Day will bring everyone in the fashion value chain together and help to raise awareness of the true cost of fashion, show the world that change is possible, and celebrate all those involved in creating a more sustainable future.

As a global movement uniting around an annual campaign, they hope to build considerable momentum and make a huge impact by bringing together organisations and people that, outside of Fashion Revolution Day, may not connect or come together sponaneously.

As large retailers like Walmart, Gap, Primark and Forever 21 continue to generate consumer demand for cheap, largely disposable clothing, they look to countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Pakistan where wages are still low and workplace standards for textile and garment production are marginal. The race to the bottom of a competitive global marketplace has lead to lowered safety standards and forcing employees to work longer hours. This has resulted in growing abuses and exploitation of millions of garment workers, mostly young women and sometimes children too.

Fashion Revolution Day says enough is enough. On 24th April, people around the world – from designers and icons, to high street shops and high couture, from cotton farmers and factory workers, to campaigners, academics, the media and any individual who cares about what they wear – will come together to say the same. By educating consumers about the true cost of fast fashion in terms of human lives while showcasing ethical, fair trade clothing brands that are getting it right, Fashion Revolution Day will use fashion as a medium for positive change.

The founder of Fashion Revolution, Carry Somers, says “Fashion Revolution Day has gathered incredible momentum on a global scale. We have over 50 countries around the world who will be participating in the day and I believe this represents a really exciting opportunity to reconnect fashion-lovers with the people who made their clothes”.

Organiser of the #insideout party, one of the many events that will be taking place across the United Kingdom on Fashion Revolution Day, Faruk Miah MBE says “As someone who was deeply touched by the tragedy of Rana Plaza and as a co-founder of the Friends of Savar, the group that raised funds locally in London before personally going to Bangladesh to meet the families of the victims and the injured, this was an easy collaboration. Fashion Revolution Day is an amazing concept that will hopefully bring about positive changes in the fashion chain from the western buyers to the pay and conditions of the garment factory workers of Bangladesh. Attendees at the #insideout party will get the opportunity to learn more about Fashion Revolution Day and the work of Friends of Savar in a social setting”

To put their plan for a better fashion world into action, this year they’re asking one simple question: Who Made Your Clothes? They’re asking everyone to raise awareness of these issues by wearing an item of clothing inside out, photographing it and then sharing it on social media with the hashtag #insideout.

That way, everyone – wherever they are, whoever they are and whatever they’re wearing – can show their support for greater transparency and more ethical practices across the fashion supply chain.

So what else can you expect on 24th April?

From Somerset House to the House Of Lords, from London to Manchester, there will be catwalks and panels discussions, film screenings and knitting evenings, school quizzes and fash-mobs – and fashion lovers, fashionistas and fashion students will unite in saying enough is enough, let’s do things differently from now on.

There are lots of ways for everyone to get involved. You can take part in an existing event or even create your own event, however small, and make a difference to celebrate fashion as a force for good.

For further information about Fashion Revolution Day:

visit www.fashionrevolution.org.

Follow Fashion Revolution Day on Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch with the multitude of activities leading up to and on the day.






Forthcoming events

19/04/14 | Cardiff | Flash Mob 3

24.04.14 | London College of Fashion | Fashion Revolution Day

24.04.14 | UAL Fash Mob on Oxford Street

24.04.14 I #insideout Party

Inside Out Party at Lane Bar & Lounge 12-15 Osborn St, London E1 6TE, 6:30pm-10:30pm, on 24 April.

The event will include a Chinese and Indian buffet followed by an evening of networking. For further information about #insideout party please email:ripuk.tpn@gmail.com

To book your ticket for the #insideout Party, please visit: frd.eventbrite.co.uk

About the writer: Hasina Momtaz is a journalist, broadcaster and award-winning media and communications expert who has provided media relations counsel to two London Mayoral administrations. She is also a founding member of the Friends of Savar charity and a Director on the Board of the British Bangladesh Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs (BBCWE).