Fashion Revolution Week 2024 is here — on the 10th anniversary of a global movement demanding greater transparency and systemic change across fashion's global supply chains.  
 
This year, from Monday 15th to Wednesday 24th April, Fashion Revolution Week 2024 is bringing together fashion activists of all descriptions to share what they've learned over the past years, through the #WeAreFashionRevolution hashtag, alongside a global program of events.  

Rana Plaza: the Tragedy that Sparked a Movement 

Fashion Revolution began in response to the Rana Plaza disaster. 
 
On 23rd April 2013, large structural cracks appeared in the Rana Plaza — a commercial building in Bangladesh, housing several garments factories. Shops and banks based on the lower floors closed immediately. But owners of factories on the upper floors — many supplying the likes of Primark, Benetton and Walmart — ignored warnings and ordered workers to return to work the next day. 
 
On 24th April 2013, the building collapsed killing 1,138 people and injuring thousands more. Many survivors were trapped under tons of rubble and machinery for hours and even days — in some cases, limbs had to be amputated to cut people free. It was the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. 
 
This horrific and avoidable tragedy opened many people's eyes to who was making their clothes and at what cost. Like other groups it inspired, Fashion Revolution's central premise is that no one should die for fashion. Together, fashion activists have achieved a lot over the past 10 years — but millions of global garment workers are still working in unsafe and demeaning conditions for far below the living wage. 
 
Brands and retailers are continuing to flock to the Global South, where wages are lower, to maximise profits — in some cases, retailers add an almost 60% price mark up on garments they sell. According to WageIndicator Foundation, a Bangladeshi worker must be paid 4.5 times the nation's current minimum wage to afford an acceptable living standard — that figure rises to almost nine times, if they have a family to support. Many garment workers face dismissal, or even criminal prosecution if they engage in union action. In Cambodia, a large proportion of road traffic accidents involve garment workers. And there is a hidden problem of sexual harassment faced by the women who make up the vast majority of the industry's global workforce. 
 
At a time when the UN has warned we have two years to save the Earth, the fashion industry is the world's second-largest consumer of water and responsible for around 10% of global carbon emissions. Manufacturing and farming across its supply chains also swallows up huge areas of biodiversity, often contaminating soil and water in the process.  
 
Fashion Revolution Week has marked every new anniversary of Rana Plaza to raise awareness and keep driving progress. For the planet and the people on it. 

Fashion Revolution Week 2024 #WeAreFashionRevolution 

Fashion Revolution Week 2024 is a celebration of creativity, communities and everyone pushing the dialogue forward on fashion's urgent need for change — inviting everyone to share their stories and journeys under the #WeAreFashionRevolution hashtag. 
 
From a fashion brand’s perspective — the first and non-negotiable issue is ensuring all workers in your supply chain are treated and paid fairly. 
 
The next question is how to manage the environmental impact of your clothing — there are many issues to consider, and there isn't always a right answer.  
 
For instance — is it best to recycle synthetic materials or source new natural materials? Is organic cotton really sustainable? From a vegan's perspective, there are also dilemmas over how much plastic goes into new vegan clothes and shoes and whether vintage fabrics like leather or wool are OK. 
 
Fashion Revolution also promotes activities such as group mending and clothes swaps. 

Future Vintage. 

There are many problems with the global fashion industry. But one thing that sits at the very top is the vast overproduction of major brands — and the problem’s only getting worst.  
 
People are buying more clothes for less money and discarding them more quickly. Somewhere between 80 and 150 billion clothes are produced each year — the most shocking part being we can't seem to work out how much. In the 1960s, the average American family spent 10% of its income on clothing. Fifty years later, around the time of the Rana Plaza disaster, the average household was spending about a third of this — but buying three times as many items. Cheaper, mass-produced clothes are only driving worker exploitation across fashion's opaque supply chains and feeding fashion's vast carbon footprint. 
 
Buying second-hand — and buying less — are huge part of the solution, but they, alone, are not enough. For times when everyone needs to buy something new — a kind of 'future vintage' mindset is needed. (Full disclosure — I first heard this term from sustainable textile activist, Abigail Wastie at one of her recent sustainable fashion, events... which I highly recommend!) 
 
If you're not familiar with the term, future vintage means buying something built to last, that you'll love forever and being prepared to mend and upcycle as time goes by — something that will, one day, be vintage. 
 
Tackling the problems means widespread systemic change — global regulation protecting garment workers' rights, smaller batches, clothes built to last and survive and a move away from the current trends-driven industry. It's tough for any smaller ethical fashion brand to compete against the likes of Shein — greater funding and investment is needed. 
 
Movements like Fashion Revolution are here to push for the widespread changes needed. 

What Can You Do to Support Fashion Revolution Week? 

Everyone can be an activist and there's lots of ways people can support Fashion Revolution Week this year — from championing vintage shopping, clothes swaps and mending — to raising awareness of brands’ ethical records. All of it using the hashtag #WeAreFashionRevolution to encourage more dialogue and education on the issue. 
 
For consumers, educators and advocates, now is the time to speak out about everything you're doing and magnify the voices of other people within the movement and your favourite sustainable fashion brands.  
 
If you're an ethical fashion brand — this could be a good time to take a look at your own messaging. It's not enough to say your clothing's ethical or sustainable — you need to explain the decisions made at every stage of your supply chain to protect both people and planet. A good way to pull all these strands together is through some kind of sustainability or mission statement. 
 
Whether you're a fashion advocate, designer or conscious consumer, now's the time to start posting and reposting. This year, a central part of #WeAreFashionRevolution is explaining your own personal journey towards becoming a fashion activist. 
 
There's also tons of events you can get involved in, throughout the 10 days, both online in-person — across 75 countries. Find out more here

Looking to Boost the Reach of Your Ethical Fashion Brand? 

I specialise in helping sustainable, ethical brands maximise their impact through copywriting, SEO and social media. I have a special interest in ethical fashion and I’m always here to talk if you just want some initial advice to kickstart your marketing. 
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