Why Fashion Revolution Week still matters and how to get involved in 2021

Fashion Revolution Week 2021

Fashion Revolution Week 2021 is on from Monday 19th – Sunday 25th April. Image from Biuriful Tuktu shop.

This week is Fashion Revolution Week 2021, the annual global campaign calls for a fashion industry that values people and the planet over growth and profit. This year the event runs from Monday 19th – Sunday 25th April with a number of in person and online events planned to help raise awareness of the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry and the need for greater transparency in the fashion supply chain.

Fashion Revolution is also calling on the fashion industry and governments to recognise the interconnection between human rights and the rights of nature. The organisation believes we need a radical shift in our relationships – with each other, with our clothes, within fashion supply chains and with the natural world – the idea is that then the rights of people and the rights of nature will have more influence on business decisions. Fashion Revolution says the human exploitation and ecosystem degradation evidenced in the world is the product of centuries of colonialism and globalised exploitation. This destruction has stemmed from a worldview in which human and environmental prosperity are seen as isolated and disconnected from each other.

While the slow fashion movement has gained momentum in recent years garment production is still predicted to grow by 81% by 2030. That means there is ever-growing demand for agricultural land to produce cotton, viscose, wool, rubber, leather hides and other natural fibres to make that clothing. A staggering 150 million trees are logged every year to be turned into cellulosic fabrics, such as viscose, and cattle ranching is the largest driver of deforestation in the Amazon.

“Last spring, I saw at firsthand the impact our clothing is having in the remotest corners of the planet,” says Fashion Revolution Co-founder Carry Somers. “I sailed over 2000 miles into the South Pacific Gyre, and every water sample we took contained fibres from our clothes. Tap water across the world, including the US and Europe, is widely contaminated with microfibres, harbouring toxic chemicals that can affect our health.”

As well as the environmental issues caused by the fashion industry, Fashion Revolution is also working on raising awareness and getting positive change for the ethical issues. Some of the most severe and exploitative working conditions and worst environmental damage happens deep within fashion supply chains where materials are grown and fabrics are made, as evidenced by recent revelations of forced labour of Uighurs in the Xinjiang region of China. While #WhoMadeMyClothes is an important question, #WhoMadeMyFabric and who grows the cotton are equally important and it’s time for even greater transparency.

Fashion Revolution is campaigning for a revolution in the way the industry works, for the health of the earth and the oceans and the prosperity and wellbeing of us humans. It’s clear that we cannot continue to extract dwindling resources from an already stressed natural world, pollute our land and our oceans, fall far short of climate change targets, dump our waste on the shoulders of countries we have culturally depleted and ignore inequality and human rights abuses in every part of the industry.

The world’s biggest fashion activism movement, Fashion Revolution is a non-profit organisation with teams in over 90 countries around the world. Fashion Revolution Week is about bringing people together from across each community, amplifying unheard and marginalised voices, and working together to explore interconnected solutions. As an organisation Fashion Revolution shares the stories of those affected by the fashion industry, with those who are asking for change, to pressure those who need to change. Only with the power of many voices is positive change on a mass scale possible.

Here in NZ, the Fashion Revolution New Zealand team is thrilled to share the recent appointment of new Country Co-ordinator Amanda Butterworth; a passionate sustainable fashion activist and procurement professional, and new Assistant Country Co-ordinator Natalia Bertolo; Sustainability Lead working for a local fashion brand and founder of Aurai Swimwear. They join a dedicated team of national fashion activists to support the global vision of Fashion Revolution.

The Fashion Revolution New Zealand team is also delighted to share an exciting series of in person and online events for Fashion Revolution Week 2021 which include asking “Who Made My Clothes” and telling the stories of how “Loved Clothes Last”. There’s panel discussions, upcycling and repair workshops, markets, swap parties and documentary screenings and more on offer to engage supporters. You can find the full list of what’s happening on  Fashion Revolution New Zealand’s Facebook page and Instagram account.

Here’s eight ways you can get involved in Fashion Revolution Week 2021:

Ask #whomademyclothes?
Turn your clothes inside out, take a photo of the label, upload to your social channels, tag the brand and ask the question #whomademyclothes to bring attention to their supply chain and workers conditions. This hashtag has been used over 780,000+ times since Fashion Revolution was launched in 2013. You could also show off your sewing skills and promote your own brand by sharing a photo of your latest creation with the hashtag #imadeyourclothes.

Attend a local event
There are events happening all over the world for Fashion Revolution Week including in your city or in one near you. Find out what’s happening in New Zealand on Fashion Revolution NZ’s social media above. It’s not too late to do something of your own either with your friend or simply help spread the word.

Sign the manifesto
Fashion Revolution Week have created a manifesto that calls for radical change in the fashion industry and has been signed by fashion fans worldwide. Make your voice heard by signing the manifesto online and share it to encourage others to sign too.

Watch A True Cost
If you haven’t already seen it fashion documentary A True Cost is essential viewing for Fashion Revolution Week as it sheds light on many of the issues in the fashion industry. If you have seen it, this is a great time to refresh your memory or share it with a friend.

Shop secondhand 
Instead of heading out to buy something new perhaps head to a second hand shop or go to a swap meet to find a pre-loved piece to treasure. Recycled fashion is fast becoming even more popular and there are some great finds to be had at your local secondhand store and new friends to be made at swap meets. Katie West shares her story of what she learned from a year of buying only pre-loved clothing here.

Read up on what’s being done
There are lots of resources online about the ethical fashion movement and what’s being done to change the industry for the better. Among the things we’re reading this Fashion Revolution Week is Out of Sight: A call for transparency from field to fabric which offers new research into supply chain transparency.

Write to a policymaker
Change takes time but getting the right people involved makes things quicker. Write to your local politician to share why Fashion Revolution Week matters and what you would like New Zealand to do to create positive change in the fashion industry.

Follow some inspiring people
Keep your Fashion Revolution Week enthusiasm all year round by following some truly inspiring humans doing great things in ethical fashion. We recommend Clare Press (@mrspress) author of Rise & Resist – How to Change the World and Wardrobe Crisis, she’s also Sustainability editor-at-large for Vogue Australia. We also love Kate Hall (ethicallykate) who is honestly documenting her sustainability journey and has lots of tips for how to live and shop ethically. Tamsin Blanchard (@tamsinblanchard) is a journalist and author who has been writing about ethical fashion for over a decade and is now also a sustainability consultant for fashion brands.