On 24th April 2013, the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,138 garment workers making clothes for a number of fast fashion retailers on the high street. The building was dangerous but factory owners ignored warnings and the consequences were devastating. Fashion Revolution Week was created in response to this industrial disaster, to raise awareness of the ‘true cost’ of our cheap fashion purchases. Reminding consumers they can love fashion but need to remember to consider where their clothes came from.
Fashion Revolution have ran a campaign through social media, where you show the label of your clothes and ask ‘Who made my clothes?’ and tagging the retailer in the post. This awareness through the power of social media means brands and fashionistas can join forces and tackle fast fashion. Last week some students from NTU organised and ran a stall in our Bonington Building to inform other students and also kept social media updated on the movement. Head to @sustainablediaries on Instagram just to see the great response from our own students.
As a fashion design student, I am also familiar with the excitement and buzz of a shopping trip, a new purchase and the thrill of a bargain. It’s no secret to any of us the damaging costs of cheap clothing. However, we must question whether it is okay for us to turn a blind eye to this situation. The Rana Plaza was catastrophic but not unfamiliar. I watched the film, The True Cost, by Fashion Revolution and it was a difficult watch. As a fashion student, you cannot help but feel some responsibility for the horrors which are behind our clothes. The film covers all aspects of a garment’s life cycle, from cotton farming, to cheap labour and the effects of clothes waste. The film also talks about the impact of consumerism at a personal level: having more stuff is a false sense of happiness, that maybe fast fashion is a loss of true values, creativity and individuality – the one thing most ‘fashionistas’ strive for. Second hand, vintage and charity shopping can offer a good sustainable and creative alternative.
It may seem overwhelming as a student, but if there is one thing you can take away from the film it’s that there are changes you can make. Think about your clothes and your buying habits. Is there room for change? Maybe next time you go into Topshop just think: do I need this? For shopping alternatives, fashion brand, The People Tree offer great inspiration and hope to designers that there is a possible sustainable future. CEO Safia Minney created the Fair Trade fashion label in response to how disgusted she felt for the fashion industry.
I think the work of Fashion Revolution Week as a designer is inspirational. It is time we all faced the consequences of consumerism because, in the words of Safia Minney, ‘It’s cool to care!’.
Thank you to Molly, a Fashion Design student at NTU for writing this blog post!
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