Today is Fashion Revolution Day. It has been 2 years since the collapse of a major factory outlet in Rana Plaza, the heart of the garment industry in Bangladesh.
(Image: The Independent)
Well over 1000 people lost their lives, thousands more injured and today we remember them - the price they paid making the clothes that we wear (I wrote about the tragedy here just after it happened). My friend pointed out to me today that Rana Plaza was unavoidable for the media - they had to report on it because of the scale; but how many other smaller scale 'Rana Plaza' tragedies have occurred since that awful day in 2013? How many people have died or been exploited because they were denied the rights of workplace safety, employment contracts and a living wage? Many, I'm sure.
It's been so encouraging to watch social media explode today with pictures of people exposing the tags of their clothing and asking major brands #whomademyclothes? I hope campaigns like these and the #makefashiontraffikfree campaign that I blogged about here are making an impact.
I think there are loads of ways that we can avoid being overwhelmed by the corruption and complexity of the fashion industry and transform ourselves into conscious-savvy shoppers. I've discovered 2 simple things we can keep in mind that might help even the most impulsive bargain-hunting fashionista!
1) LESS. Put down the £8 top from the red label rail at TK Maxx and ask yourself - DO I REALLY NEED THIS? Where will this fit into my style in a years time? Are there LOADS of things I can wear this with? Can I afford it? Is it well made? These are all the questions I ask to remind myself that I really don't need more clothes. I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe or style ethos (as discussed by my friends Jenny & Rebekah) and reminding ourselves that having too much stuff really isn't good for us.
2) MORE. More investment in the good guys - the brands with integrity and vision. More seeking out style that doesn't compromise in ethics - I love finding new ethical fashion brands that blow the hippy-grain-wearing clothing stereotypes out of the water. More researching how the big brands are doing and calling them to account (you can use the Good Shopping Guide or Ethical Consumer to see who is doing well-ish and who are money-hungry, people-exploiting idiots).
As an example of some brands that are the real deal (combining ethical practices AND kick-ass style), here are some of my top picks from Gather & See - the most awesome online sustainable fashion outlet.
VIVA LA REVOLUTION!