On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. More than 1,100 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history.
That’s when Fashion Revolution was born
We have seen some positive change across the industry in recent years. However, human rights abuses and environmental degradation remain rife. While vast numbers of the public have become more aware of these problems, many people remain in the dark, unaware that their clothes may be contributing to the climate crisis and human exploitation.
We believe that no one should die for fashion and that’s why we need a fashion revolution.
Read our latest white paper to find out more
Rana Plaza was a factory complex in Savar, Bangladesh, where more than 5,000 people worked making clothes for some of the biggest global fashion brands and retailers. The victims were mostly young women.
This tragedy was preventable. In the aftermath, survivors told stories of how they noticed cracks in the building and knew the building was hazardous just days before the collapse. Multiple workers told their supervisors that they were afraid to enter the building and continue working. The retails shops and banks on the ground floor shut down their operations, but the demand of an insatiable fashion industry forced garment workers to keep working. The ugly truth is that some of us may have bought and wore the clothes they made.
People had to dig through the rubble looking for clothing labels in order to figure out which brands were sourcing from Rana Plaza. In some cases, it took weeks for brands to determine why their labels were found in the ruins and what sort of purchasing agreements they had with those suppliers. The culpable brands weren’t limited to fast fashion retailers but included mid-priced brands too.
This is because the vast majority of today’s fashion brands and retailers do not own their manufacturing facilities. Fashion supply chains are highly globalised, complex and opaque. Business relationships are often very murky and subcontracting is common. This lack of transparency costs lives.
The reality is that our clothes have gone on a long journey before they reach stores and webshops, passing through the hands of cotton farmers, spinners, weavers, dyers, sewers and many more.
Five years ago in our first white paper, we hoped, “that by 2020 the public starts getting some real answers to the question “Who Made My Clothes?” We hope to see thousands of brands and retailers willing and able to tell the public about the people who make their products. We hope to see makers, producers and workers become visible; we hope to see thousands of their stories told. We hope to start to see more consumer demand for fashion made in a sustainable, ethical way. We hope that we start to see real transformative positive change begin to take root.”
We are extremely proud to say that we have achieved many of these aims, but there is much more work to do to transform the global fashion industry.
People are still regularly dying in factory fires and accidents. Although wages have increased in some countries where clothing is made, many people in the supply chain are still paid too little and struggle to afford life’s most basic necessities. Women textile and garment workers frequently face sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. Trade unions and workers’ ability to organise and fight for their rights continue to be hamstrung by employers and governments.
The fashion industry carries on polluting our atmosphere and water sources. Ancient forests are being cut down to create leather and textiles, animals are regularly mistreated, and landfills are piling up with disused clothes. As consumers, it’s still very difficult to find credible information about the working conditions and environmental impacts behind what we buy.
All of these problems underline the need for a drastic rethink of the way the whole system works.
We cannot lose momentum now. We must keep working towards real transformative change so that these problems become a thing of the past. Eight years later and we still need a fashion revolution.READ THE MANIFESTO
Fashion Revolution is made up of people from all around the world that make the fashion industry work. We are consumers, campaigners, designers, academics, writers, business leaders, policymakers, brands, retailers, trade unions, producers, makers and workers. We are the people who wear clothes and the people who make them. We are all citizens and when we speak up and work together, we are powerful.
Our mantra is “Be Curious. Find Out. Do Something.”
We believe that with systemic and structural change, the global fashion industry can lift millions of people out of poverty and provide them with decent and dignified livelihoods. It can conserve and restore our living planet. It can bring people together and be a great source of joy, creativity and expression for individuals and communities.
Download our White Paper: Why we still need a Fashion Revolution. Published April 2020.READ NOW