How to be a Fashion Activist
Fashion Revolution Week is the time of year when we remember the 2013 Rana Plaza tragedy, when over 1300 people lost their lives in the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. After this monumental event, campaign organisation Fashion Revolution has been holding awareness events and actions on the anniversary of the tragedy – to call for increased transparency and more attention to human rights in the fashion industry.
To support this crucial fight for better conditions in a trade we all use, here are some steps you can take to become a fashion revolutionary – all in the comfort of your own home.
By Sascha Camilli: writer, speaker, activist and vegan fashion expert.
Ask brands about their practices
As a consumer, you have the power to use your voice – and it's not necessary to shop in order to make your voice heard. During Fashion Revolution week (or any time of the year), contact the brands you love and ask them about their production. Ask how their workers are treated. Demand transparency. Even if you don't get a response, trust that your message is making companies question how open they are with their practices – especially if lots of people get in touch over the same period of time. A good way to do this is through Fashion Revolution's #WhoMadeMyClothes initiative, when consumers call on brands to be more transparent about workers in their supply chain.
Speak out on social media
Movements gain momentum on social media – and once again, if yours is a voice that is part of a larger wave, the industry is unlikely to be able to ignore it. Seek out inspiring accounts to follow. Amplify the voices of marginalised activists doing important work. Use your own voice to create graphics, videos, or simply use one of the most powerful tools we all have: words. Speak out, spread the word – use the power of the internet to open the eyes of your friends and followers to the injustices in the clothing industry. Clothes affect all of us, since everybody wears them, so we all have a duty to stay informed, and nowhere is it easier to do so than on social media.
Learn the labels
Know what you are supporting and what you are calling for, by educating yourself around what fashion brands are getting right. Find out more about different labels and certifications that assure sustainable production and workers' rights – examples include the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), as used by brands like KOMODO, which evaluates the processing and manufacturing of textiles and is often applicable to organic cotton – a staple in a sustainable vegan wardrobe. Another label to keep an eye on is Fair Trade, which focuses on wages, conditions, and fairness for suppliers. Companies producing in fair-trade conditions include Good Guys Don't Wear Leather and Julia Thompson Jewellery.
Donate to support the work of Fashion Revolution
If you are in a position to spend some money, consider making a donation to Fashion Revolution to support their life-saving work to change and improve conditions in the fashion industry. The vital work done by this organisation has transformed the industry – and there is still a lot to be done, and this much-needed progress can only be achieved with some help.
On their website, Fashion Revolution offer a range of free resources – but in order to be able to produce those, organise events (IRL and digital) and continue to tirelessly campaign for a kinder and safer world of fashion, they need support. Even a small one-off donation goes a long way, and if you wish, you can become a monthly, yearly, or quarterly donor.
Pledge to transition to sustainable fashion
One of the most powerful things you can do as a consumer to improve conditions within the fashion industry is to simply pledge to be more mindful of what (and how much) you buy and use. This is, of course, a process – it may not happen overnight and it might not happen overnight.
Waste is counterproductive and goes against everything that the sustainable fashion movement stands for, so it's not all about chucking out everything you own and buying all new, sustainable clothing. It's about loving the clothes you have and making them last. It's about rejecting fleeting trends.
It's about reading up on the brands you support and the practices they use. It's about choosing to spend your money towards a more considered approach to fashion. But by educating yourself, you open up a space for change to happen, and by being mindful of what you buy and wear, how long you own it for, and how you dispose of it, you're doing your part to become a responsible, sustainable consumer.
By Sascha Camilli
Sascha Camilli is a vegan fashion writer, speaker and activist. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books. For more about Sascha, you can read our interview with her. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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Cover image by Dauntless