Today is Fashion Revolution Day and marks the day that we, as consumers, demand more transparency in the fashion industry. In the wake of Rana Plaza (previously blogged about here), there is a call for change to ensure safe working conditions and treatment for everyone along the production line of our favourite fashion labels, which will lead to sustainable changes.
This year is the 2nd Fashion Revolution Day, so what have we achieved since? This report came out by Baptist World Aid featuring many popular stores in Australia and they’ve been ranked across 4 categories: Policies, Traceability & Transparency, Monitoring & Training and Workers Rights Grade with each company/brand receiving a score from A-F. The first report came out in 2013 and this year, 18 new companies representing over 91 brands have been added to the report. That’s a total of 219 brands this year compared to 128 in 2013. The good news is that since the 2013 report, many companies have started to change their transparency. The cessation of child labour in Uzbekistan and increase of minimum wage of 75% in Bangladesh (although still the lowest in the world) are pointed out as some of the positive changes that have since occurred.
What is interesting in the report is how much change has occurred and how well companies are ranking at the Cut-Make level compared to the collection of Raw Materials (aside from ethical fashion brands). This highlights the point that for the fashion industry to become more sustainable, change also needs to happen at the bottom of the level. How are these materials grown? What is the impact of fertilizers and harvesting on the environment and human health? What are the working conditions and treatment of those employed at this level and the use of child labourers? These are still some of the issues that remain unanswered in majority of the companies in this report.
Why is it so important that we keep asking questions? It’s the recognition that these conditions that fashion is made under cannot last and is not sustainable enough to last because of seasonal changes in trends and fast fashion. It’s the recognition that workers across any industry should have equal rights and working conditions-conditions where they are safe and healthy. It’s the recognition that consumers have buying power and choice and we can use these towards what we care about. It’s the recognition that everyone in the fashion industry- from designers, companies, makers, purchases- are all tied together.
Who made your clothes? Who made my clothes?