This week marks Fashion Revolution Week 2020. This week commemorates the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013, which killed 1134 people in Dhaka District, Bangladesh. The eight storey garment factory collapsed after the upper four floors were built without permission, becoming the most deadly garment factory disaster ever. In addition to those killed 2515 were injured. In response to this, Fashion Revolution Week was established to encourage conversations about how the fashion industry can improve in several areas. This week is taking place now from Monday 20 April to Sunday 26 April.
At home here in Australia I’ve been watching many Instagram live stories on the concept, with experts like Dr Mark Browne from Sydney who specialises in researching the impact of microfibres. Microfibres are found everywhere; in the water, in the air, in your food and in other organisms. Fashion Revolution Australia’s Melinda Tually was also in conversation with Circular Fashion Expert Teslin Doud who is part of the Tiny Factory project in the USA. Teslin described how difficult it can be for clothes with mixed materials to break down, the toxicity of many dyes in supposedly natural fabrics and methods to promote change.
My fashion friend from Spain, Lupe Castro @mscastrorides, has some great articles on the topic and is owner of one of the best vintage clothing collections in the world. Kat from Loopistyle here in Brisbane and Sally Steele from Steele My Style are local proponents for more sustainable and circular fashion. Last year I was also lucky enough to hear from speakers at Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival in Sydney who gave The State of Fashion Report which outlined issues of brand transparency and upcoming trends for 2020.
Today as I write it is Earth Day and the Fashion Transparency Index has been published. This index provides a guide to those fashion brands that are doing well in regards to social and environmental policy commitments, governance, supply chain traceability, knowing, showing , fixing and spotlighting issues.This year brands that have scored well are H&M, C&A, Adidas / Reebok, Espirit, Marks and Spencer’s and Patagonia.
In Australia brands like Tigerlily have 100 percent of their swimwear linings made from recycled nylon and have switched from cardboard to biodegradable packing since 2018. Online store The Iconic has a considered edit which is animal friendly, has eco production values, is fair and sustainable and this range makes up 10 percent of sales. Haute Couture designer Armine Ohanyon uses plastic waste as embroidery and sustainable products based on the beauty of our natural environment in her designs.
Consumers are now more than ever concerned with social issues, transparency and sustainability. We all own over 60 percent more clothing than we used to and almost 70 percent of most people’s wardrobes haven’t been worn for a year. Most Australians do believe that brands should be more responsible for the environment and will pay more to ensure the safety of overseas workers.
Things we can do are buy more second hand clothes, hire outfits, shop local, support local designers, have swap parties and share our outfits with friends. Wear more of your existing clothes in different ways. Now is a great time to experiment with different fashion combinations. You have time to mend, remodel or mix and match your clothes.
We also need to back more research into how textiles and dyes affect the environment and let brands now we are willing to pay for more compostable materials and better than living wages for their workers. Fashion is hurting right now with the coronavirus but brands who have earned customer loyalty should survive. Keep asking questions, being curious about where your clothes come from and be more mindful of the impact before you click add to cart. Ask and find out #whomademyclothes ?
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.
Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).