April 23-29, 2018 was Fashion Revolution Week and you might have seen a lot of similar looking photos floating around on social media. What’s the big hype? What does it matter where my clothes come from or who made them?
Enter fast fashion - the trend that caught the world by storm.
What is fast fashion?
Fast fashion is a term used by fashion retailers to describe inexpensive designs that move quickly from the catwalk to stores to meet new trends. It refers to fashionable cheap clothes that are made of materials such as cotton and polyester, that then get disposed of and fill up landfill, damaging the environment.
Big fast fashion names include Zara, H&M, GAP, Forever 21 and Topshop.
Fast fashion has been compared to fast food - whereby in today’s society we want everything quickly, no matter the cost of where it came from.
If clothes can be made so quickly and cheaply, who makes them? Unfortunately the reality is that they are most likely made in crowded factories with dire working conditions. You probably saw the headline news of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2012 that killed 138 people.
As a response to this incident, the Fashion Revolution was born. While it is a global movement that runs all year long, its campaign week is the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, 24th April, 2012. During this week, brands and producers are encouraged to respond with the hashtag #imadeyourclothes and to demonstrate transparency in their supply chain.
How does the Fashion Revolution offer an alternative to fast fashion?
The Fashion Revolution campaign has brought a conscious effort to improve factory conditions and combat the lack of knowledge of ethical practices.
The good thing is that there are many organizations working to combat fast fashion, in what is being coined “slow fashion” or “ethical fashion”. Ethical fashion focuses on the manufacturing of clothing which maximises the benefits to people and communities while minimising impact on the environment.
Pixan, a fair trade ethical workshop based in Xela supports hundreds of indigenous women in the western highlands of Guatemala using these ethical practices.
Paola is one of Pixan's weavers who started weaving when she was 7 years old. She used to watch her mother weaving and learned from her. Paola is very happy to be a part of the Pixan project and you can read more about her story here. If you buy textiles from Pixan, you know that Paola or one of the other Pixan weavers made it with love and was working in ethical conditions.
Next time you think about buying clothes or products, think about where it is coming from, who made it and what their working conditions were like. If everyone starts to think more ethically, the world will become a happier and more connected place. You can also watched the documentary True Cost for more ideas on how to address this issue.
Written by Sarah C. Harrison