Last Thursday marked the six month anniversary of a garment factory collapse that killed 1133 people and injured a further 2500. Sadly the infamous Rana Plaza incident in Dhaka, Bangladesh is not an isolated case. The catastrophes in our fashion supply chain continue, for example a fire on October 9th in Dhaka killed at least nine garment workers. And this is just a little snapshot of the plethora of issues that plague the fashion space.
A global group of industry leaders, campaigners, press and academics, including myself, have joined forces to form Fashion Revolution Day and say enough is enough.
We believe in a fashion industry which values people, the environment, creativity and profits in equal measure, and it's everyone's responsibility to ensure that this happens. And we aren't just talking about luxury fashion or fast fashion but about the clothes that we all wear every day.
So please mark 24 April 2014 in your diaries as this is Fashion Revolution Day when we will come together to commemorate the first anniversary of the collapse, remember the victims of Rana Plaza and change our fashion future.
Fashion Revolution Day is an opportunity to celebrate fashion as a positive influence, raise awareness of the fashion industry's most pressing issues and show that change is possible. It will rally the high street, the high end, the innovators, the media, the public, the activists, the makers, the wearers - and everyone in between. If you are wearing clothes whilst you are reading this, than you are exactly who we need to get involved.
For the first Fashion Revolution Day we simply ask, Who Made Your Clothes?
We want everybody to show their support for better connections and transparency across the fashion supply chain. And so our CALL TO ACTION on 24th April 2014 is for everyone to wear an item of clothing inside out, to take a picture and then post it, instagram, facebook and tweet it like crazy, using the #insideout.
Here is a snap of what I am wearing today, just taken on my phone in the office to share online. Out of the four things that I am wearing in this picture I know who made three. As an activist in this arena, I follow my 12 Rules To Dress By, and so not much makes it into my wardrobe without me knowing the provenance. However this isn't the case when you shop on the high street. It is notoriously difficult to find out. This needs to change. And so the point of #insideout is to get us all thinking about who made our clothes and initiating human connections across the supply chain.
I am wearing a dress by ethical fashion pioneers, People Tree. When I bought this online I was able to see it was made in India by CAOS. It tells me that "Creative Art of Souls" is an ethical enterprise based in Pondicherry, South India. They manufacture a wide range of woven and knitted clothing and accessories and are proud that 90% of their in-house production is in certified organic cotton. The company takes their ethical credentials very seriously and say that they "seek to preserve traditions, protect precious techniques and high quality skills while supporting communities as well as environmental causes." And there is an interview with the Founder of CAOS where she shares more information such as out of the 195 workers, 70% are female. My dress is made from 100% organic and fairtrade cotton, and has been certified by the World Fair Trade Organization, The Soil Association and Certified Organic Cotton.
My shoes are by Folk. I happen to know that they were handmade in a family run factory in Spain, made from local leather that is a by product of the meat industry. I know this because they told me when I bought these from the boutique. They had leather soles, and when the heels wore and lost their shape (as I didn't take them to my local cobblers and get them London proofed), Folk kindly sent them back to the factory for me to be repaired by the artisan that made them.
My bracelet is from my own jewellery collection. It was made in the work shop in Delhi, India where I work. In fact this is a sample from my Five Elements collection, and it was made by a very talented wire worker called Kishan. I had the pleasure of sitting with him and watching him make this whilst we chatted and drank chai.
And that leaves my tights! Well they are from Marks & Spencer. I remember asking if they had any information when I bought these, and the shop assistant didn't know anything. I am a fan of Marks & Spencer's Plan A for sustainability and so I thought this wasn't a bad option for buying tights. They don't share their factory list online, so it's hard to know exactly where they were made. I checked the label in the tights and there was no information. Then I went online and looked them up on the online shop where it didn't say where they were made at all. So finally, I went into the store and found them. It said on the back of the packet, Made in Italy. But that's all I know. I have just written to M & S to ask them if they can tell me who made my tights?
Sparked some curiosity? Have a peek at your labels and let's find out who made your clothes?