Notes from a Fashion Revolution

Who made my clothes? Well, last week we really wondered as the hashtag #Imadeyourclothes circulated online along with pictures of all kinds of workers in the fashion industry. The hashtag was part of the enactment of Fashion Revolution – a movement we should all join – to celebrate fashion. Fashion that is fair. Last week we heralded everything and everyone contributing to the creation of a piece of clothing, from the farmers of cotton to the seamstresses, when Fashion Revolution held its Fashion Revolution Week. As the finale of the week in London was a conference held at Central Saint Martins. It brought together big names in the industry to discuss what we can do for a future for fashion. The sum up concluded that it is with us, as individuals, that it starts.

Orsola de Castro and Carry Sommers are founders of the movement, and their aim is to bring about a change in the horrifically harsh industry. 24th of April 2013 the factory Rana Plaza in Bangladesh collapsed, and it took 1138 garment workers down with it. In 2014, Fashion Revolution was founded. Sommers and de Castro claim that fashion’s fabulous creativity need not to disappear, but simply be redirected. Since industrialization, the values of handcraft and materials has gone out of time, and with that, customers are enabled to buy clothes without spending time on either harvesting raw materials, spinning thread or sewing and mending garments. Furthermore, they spoke of the values of handcraft and materials.

So, what values and solutions are there in the fashion industry? During the day many big names from the industry spoke about possible solutions. Amongst them were Claire Bergkamp, head of sustainability for Stella McCartney, G-Star Raw and Mara Hoffman. The topics ranged from methods of communicating fashion, what behaviors there are around consumption – what exists and what should be ditched, and techniques of recycling and upcycling materials (Sweden and Stockholm were mentioned as dominant here with brands like Filipa K and institutions such as Royal Institute of Technology that has many times over been praised for its innovative ways of recycle). Sadly, it does not matter how many solutions that comes up if not customers will value and choose them before others.

“It is a time for grief”, Orsola de Castro said referring to Extinction Rebellion, “and it is time we earn that grief.” To buy less and to celebrate what we have got was the constant conclusion. Someone said: “how about we wear our clothes until they fall apart?” and de Castro continued with: “How about we wear our clothes when they fall apart”, waving her beautiful and well-worn cardigan. Thereby, to turn to the index over brands and their social and ecological standards that Fashion Revolution makes is great but our responsibility does not stop there. Following their inquiries, should you as a costumer ask ‘Who else than I can wear this shirt?’, ‘Will I be able to mend it when it breaks?’, and ‘Who can I turn to when it does?’ or ‘Do I take a course in mending myself?’. Because the life of a garments does not stop when we buy it, it continues with us and after us.

Now, when we join the revolution for fashion we start by checking in with where our values lie. Let it be how the cotton is grown, the rights of those who harvest it or the seamstresses’ conditions in Italy as well as in India. If the workers are not to be found under the hashtag #Imadeyourclothes, you pick up the phone and make the call to ask the company yourself. In this time we are too close to the threshold, too close to fall of the verge not to take accountability for our actions and be responsible individuals. So, what do you value?

Words by Johanna Wiklund
For more information, see Fashion Revolution