I’ll be frank – I’m not a fashionista. Faaaaaar from it. As a teenager I dreaded going shopping. When I visited London almost a decade ago, a brief love affair was sparked (read: 21-yr old with TopShop obsession). However, my general habit has been to avoid clothes shopping altogether until my wardrobe is in dire need of an overhaul and then I “splurge” and hit up places like Supre and Jay Jays or Forever 21 and H&M – depending where in the world I am. I’d release my inner Cher from Clueless but at the low-end retail stores.
I’m not proud to admit this – I’m almost cringing as I confess my preferred shopping haunts – but price was always the determining factor for me, as it is for many of us. It didn’t even cross my mind to question how the clothes could be so cheap, who made them or what would happen to them when I was done.
That’s all changed. Being eco-conscious and a fashion revolutionary go hand-in-hand.
The fashion industry is the third most polluting sector after oil and agriculture. 150 billion items are produced per year². In Australia alone, 6000kg of clothing are discarded every 10 minutes. If those facts don’t reveal the urgent need for a fashion upheaval, I don’t know what will. Or maybe I do.
How about the fact that 2720 litres of water is used to produce a single t-shirt¹? That’s how much we personally drink over a 3 year period. Or how about finding out that approximately 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used in the textile industry and these contribute to 17-20% of industrial water pollution¹. It’s well known that the majority of garment manufacturing occurs in developing countries; the river downstream from these polluting factories is used for irrigation of crops and even personal bathing or cleaning. How would you like to submerge yourself in the toxic effluent of these factories just to “clean” yourself?
And this brings us to the next poignant and better-known shame of the fashion industry – the treatment of garment workers. Perhaps the environmental consequences don’t hit home for you, but what about our fellow humans?
Child labour is still used in the fashion industry and, although it sounds almost unbelievable to our western ears, modern slavery still exists and its labour is exploited in the fashion industry. “The Global Slavery Index estimates that 36 million people are living in modern slavery today, many of who are working in the supply chains of Western brands.”¹ And what about the workers’ safety? Well, that very issue was the impetus for the Fashion Revolution.
FASHION REVOLUTION WEEK
“On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. 1,138 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history.”² From this disaster the Fashion Revolution emerged. This initiative is now a global movement, with a presence in over 95 countries and it’s on NOW – from 24-30 April.
Its vision is “a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure.³”
One easy way we can push for transparency in the fashion industry is by asking “Who made my clothes?” It’s a fabulous hashtag campaign created by the Fashion Revolution – #whomademyclothes – wear your clothing item inside out, showing the tag, use the hashtag and tag the brand you’re directing the question to. Let’s see if they answer!
Their website is full of information and resources to find out more about the current state of the fashion industry and how we can get involved to be part of this inspiring movement. Check out their website or Facebook page to find events near you, if you’re keen.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Despite missing the fashion-savvy gene, I know I want to find out more about how I can reduce my waste and live a planet-friendly life via my clothing choices.
So, for the rest of this week I’ll be blogging daily about documentaries, books, apps, other inspiring bloggers and any interesting information I unearth while I investigate.
As Clare Press, author of Wardrobe in Crisis, pointed out in a Fashion Revolution lecture I attended last night, fashion is thought to be frivolous but in fact each morning when we dress ourselves we are making a political statement.
What story are your clothes telling?