On the 24th of April 2013, at the start of a regular work day, Rana Plaza, a multi-storey factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed – crushing several dreams, unrealised aspirations and most tragically thousands of lives.
What was going on in this rather large facility? It was yet another sweatshop where workers were employed at abysmally low wages in poor conditions to manufacture garments for large apparel brands who satiate consumers need for “fast fashion”, a category of fashion that has designs straight off the runway at extremely affordable prices. It is ‘fast’ as consumers tend to discard it as fast as they adopt it!
Fashion Revolution Day was born to commemorate the memory of the unfortunate Rana Plaza incident and to make serious efforts so that such an incident is not repeated- not in Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, India or any country where such factories run with utter disregard for workers’ health and safety. Today it is an annual event held across 70 countries on the 24th of April. Fashion Revolution urges the makers and users of fashion to think deep about two key questions
1. Can fashionable clothes be made consciously- such that human lives and the environment are treated with RESPECT?
2. Can the stakeholders- designers, manufacturers and consumers- get together and find solutions to improve the working conditions of those who are involved in manufacturing the clothes and accessories using the power of FASHION ?
Fashion Revolution, Singapore has been brought to Singapore by Connected Threads Asia. Connected Threads Asia is the brain child of Agatha (Agy) Lee (Singapore’s most loved eco-designer and founder of Green Issues by Agy) and Raye Padit (Founder of PeyaR, a label that upcycles textile waste to create bespoke garments for women). It aims to be a platform where all the stakeholders of the fashion industry in Singapore can collaborate via events, discussions and dialogue with the ultimate objective to make the industry a socially and environmentally responsible one. [Read launch article by Team Secondsguru here]
In the run up to the D-day, the week of 18th-24th April 2016 has been marked as Fashion Revolution Week. Now that you are all charged up, it’s time you know how you can join the Fashion revolution!
Option 1 Pledge your commitment to sustainable fashion choices #ipledgeFRD. Your pledge can be as drastic as deciding to go cold turkey on clothes shopping, or more manageable as pledging to buy sustainably. Want some ideas on the kind of pledges you can make ? See this video put together by the Fashion Revolution Singapore team.
Option 2 Wear your clothes inside out, post a selfie on social media (FB, Twitter, Instagram) and ask @brand #whomademyclothes #fash_revsg. Find out who made your clothes- who grew the cotton, spun the threads, dyed the fabric and who sewed them together! Want some ideas on the #whomademyclothes campaign? See this video put together by the Fashion Revolution Singapore team.
Option 3 Post your #haulternative to fast fashion on social media. Instead of buying something new, can you head to the closest thrift store or just overhaul your existing wardrobe with some sewing, enhancements or just by going crazy. Have you ever made a bag out of your old denims, converted old t-shirts to a memory quilt, upcycled shirts to a dress? If you have done anything along these lines and are happy with the results, now is the time to share it on social media with the #haulternative.
Option 4 Those of you in Singapore, please sign up and join in at the Fashion Revolution Day Singapore
24 April| Impact Hub SG, 128 Prinsep Street| 4 pm-7pm. On the day of event you can watch the acclaimed documentary “The True Cost” and get a deeper understanding of the impacts of the fashion industry and join in for conversations with the first movers in the ethical clothing in Singapore. You can make your pledges on the spot too!
Option 5 Do all of the above. I will surely be doing 1, 3 and 4. I have not reached the level of talent that is needed to do option 3, but I am working on it. Some day, one day, I will get there:-)!
How I am joining in the Revolution: I am certain you are judging me as you read this article and perhaps labelling me a “fashion hypocrite”. I don’t blame you, I would do the same if I knew me!! And there are times, when buying “Fast Fashion” makes sense, it does! Heck I do too- but I think I can cut down on that for sometime now. So, in order to slow myself down, I am pledging to buy no new clothes for myself for 2 months from today, the 18th of April 2016. Another way I joined in the revolution was that I tweeted #whomademyclothes on Thursday the 14th of April, waiting for answers…
Remember, Fashion Revolution is not just for a day, a week, or even a month. It needs to be a part of our eco-system. That’s when a change will happen, a substantial one, and an incident like Rana Plaza will not occur again.