A Revolution from Beyond the Grave
I have always found fast fashion very tasteless, and to imagine that our society only gives praise to designers who hand-make their products, and absolutely zero credit to those working under sometimes very difficult conditions in factories, is disturbing. Fashion dictates that factory products are inherently “inferior,” and the petty argument is that designing high-end products has “an atmospheric superiority,” as the creative genius of designers is enough to earn ”high-end” treatment. We are all too familiar with the faces of celebrity designers and, tragically, never the faces of those who so brilliantly manufacture the final products of these fashion houses.
Two years ago, on 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza Factory in Bangladesh collapsed and 1,133 ”faceless” workers lost their lives. As heart-breaking pictures of the rubble appeared worldwide, it suddenly became a necessary reminder; a reality of the social and environmental catastrophe in the fashion supply chain. To honour the lost lives and to prevent similar tragedies in the future, 24 April is now “Fashion Revolution Day.” This is a day to reflect and to ask the question “Who made my clothes?” Last year I did not take part in Fashion Revolution Day. I was a bit critical and, eyes rolling, was convinced it was another of those tedious social media gimmicks that were nothing more than a platform for narcissists who took images of themselves to post on social media, hoping to present some ”falsified aura” of social awareness. A year later, I have to admit I was very wrong. Fashion Revolution has become one of the most powerful campaigns to date.
Just a few days after Fashion Revolution, the excitement has died down. I feel a bit flat. My ”Who Made My Clothes” banner and carefully curated social media hash-tags are still met with an awkward silence. How does one show the improvements that have been made thanks to a global campaign? Frankly, to date, none of the fashion houses from whom I buy clothes have actually sent me an email to explain their production and manufacturing processes.
However, I reflect on the lives that have been saved by the campaign so far – though there are no figures for the potential disasters averted – and note improvement in the transparency of the actions taken. In light of this, there is a huge concern that society still has a bigger role to play – not only by asking brands “Who made my clothes?” on Fashion Revolution Day, but by constantly checking on retailers and questioning their ethical policies. We must be bold enough as a society to refuse to buy from those who cannot give satisfactory answers, and veer away from the cowardice of buying cheap clothing because it is easy.
We go back to old habits and still rummage through the rails of fast fashion; how soon we forget. Our generation is embedded in materialistic habits that have reduced us to unethical robots. April 24th 2016, our sympathetic faces resume; the banners are once again up… ”Who Made My Clothes?” We must do better.