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Fashion Revolution Week 2020: more relevant than ever

By Simone Preuss


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From 20th to 26th April, Fashion Revolution Week will be held again worldwide to raise awareness for those who made our clothes and under what conditions. Established in 2014 after the Rana Plaza disaster, this year it is particularly important to remember and take action, because in the wake of the global Covid 19 pandemic and the resulting cancellation of orders and closures of factories, millions of workers in garment-producing countries and their families are threatened not only by unemployment but also by poverty and hunger.

Thus, Fashion Revolution Week 2020 will focus on four key areas: Consumption, composition, conditions and collective action, showing how the current situation is affecting the people who make our clothes, as well as the impact our clothing has on the earth and the oceans. The campaign will highlight what needs to happen to “start rebuilding a fashion industry that values people over growth and profit and conserves and restores the environment as we come out of the other side of this global crisis” according to the organisers in a recent press release.

Participation will be mainly online but no less sincere

Though participation will be mainly virtual this year due to lockdown situations in various countries, more than 90 countries worldwide will take part in Fashion Revolution Week with activities such as online events, flash mobs, workshops and a worldwide selfie campaign. The initiative calls on fashion companies to take responsibility for their supply chains and the workers involved. Just how important this is becomes especially apparent in a time of crisis like the current one.

Seven years after the Rana Plaza factory collapse on 24th April 2013, the garment industry is facing an even greater tragedy: “The Covid-19 crisis has led to major brands and retailers shutting up shop and cancelling supplier payments and orders, without taking responsibility for the workers in their supply chains who mostly lack sick pay, paid leave, adequate health care and have no savings to fall back on. And beyond the devastating human and economic cost of the global coronavirus pandemic, seven years on from the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, human rights abuses, modern slavery and environmental degradation remain rife within the industry,” warn the organisers.

Fashion Revolution launches fifth edition of Fashion Transparency Index

The fifth edition of the Fashion Transparency Index, to be launched on 21st April, will consider the approaches of 250 of the world’s biggest fashion brands and retailers to restricted substances, their commitment to eliminating virgin plastics and the steps they are taking to prevent microplastic pollution, thus showing which brands are leading the way on transparency, have seen the greatest improvement in their scores and where there is more work to be done.

“In the midst of this global pandemic, the need for citizens to hold brands and retailers to account is more pressing than ever before. Over the past weeks, we have seen the devastating impact of brands’ buying practices on some of the most vulnerable workers overseas. Now, more than ever, we need to keep asking #whomademyclothes and hold these brands, many of whom have made immense profits in recent years, to account for their actions,” comments Carry Somers, co-founder and global operations director of Fashion Revolution.

New hashtag #WhatsInMyClothes sheds light on hidden substances in clothing

Apart from the well known hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes, a new hashtag has been launched: #WhatsInMyClothes. Building on the findings of Carry Somers' eXXpedition voyage to research microplastic pollution in the South Pacific Gyre, the new campaign question sheds light on the substances hidden in our clothes.

On 24th April, it is time for an annual event in partnership with the V&A, Fashion Question Time from 11 am BST. In a live stream available on YouTube (https://youtu.be/6CLM0YOjseU), various industry experts will discuss the question “Mass consumption: the end of an era?”.

“It has never been more important to demand accountability and radical transparency from the brands we buy from, and to change our own consumption habits from excessive to efficient. We hope that people all over the world will stay with us this Fashion Revolution Week, and activate with us to ask for empathy and respect: empathy for the people who make our clothes and respect for the planet we all share,” explains Fashion Revolution co-founder and creative director Orsola de Castro.

Fashion Open Studio to showcase designers from 12 countries

Fashion Open Studio will be the first international fashion showcase to produce an entirely digital schedule, with a packed programme of events from designers in the UK as well as across 12 countries, among them Phoebe English, Raeburn and Bethany Williams from the UK, Kevin Germanier from France, Ka Sha from India, Kowtow from New Zealand, Emmy Kasbit from Nigeria, Caralarga from Mexico and Môi Điên from Vietnam. “Throughout the week, the public will have unique direct access to interact with the designers who embed innovation and sustainability in their design and manufacturing processes,” promise the organisers.

“Every crisis not only brings challenges but also extraordinary opportunities for improvement. Fashion Revolution Germany is committed to a new start for the fashion industry. Many pioneers and visionaries in the industry have already demonstrated over the past ten years that transparent, fair and environmentally friendly fashion will become The New Normal,” adds Fashion Revolution Germany. “With changes to its systems and structures, the fashion industry has the potential to provide millions of people with decent and dignified livelihoods and conserve and restore our living planet,” concludes Fashion Revolution Week.

More information about events in various countries can be found on the Fashion Revolution website (fashionrevolution.org).

Photos: Fashion Revolution Week

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