Who Made My Clothes: A Fashion Revolution by Ciarra Wentzel, April 20 2016, 3 Comments

Photo taken from fashionrevolution.org

Fashion Revolution, a non-profit organization based in the UK, asks this simple, yet hard-to-answer question, “Who made your clothes?”

The organization was established after the 2013 tragedy in Dhaka, Bangladesh when a building that housed clothing factories toppled and killed 1,134 people and injured over 2,500 people. The collapse was due to the poor structure of the building—in other words, it was built with materials that did not meet official building codes. The collapse was the most tragic disaster the garment industry has ever encountered in the world. Hence why a team of leaders in the UK vowed to make sure it never happens again.

A movement in the right direction

Since the disaster, Fashion Revolution has held an annual campaign on April 24th of each year, in honor of the victims and the tragedy. Eighty countries, including the United States, take part in Fashion Revolution every year. The campaign includes a week of events to inform consumers, producers and sellers all over the world about unsafe practices in the fashion industry. Part of that is the question, “Who made your clothes?”

Why we need to be informed

Fashion Revolution sets out to ensure that incidents like the collapse in Bangladesh are prevented in the future. People need to be informed about unsafe working conditions in the fashion industry in order to prevent more deadly tragedies. A Behind the Barcode report showed that out of 219 well-known fashion brands, only half knew where their factories were located and how their garments were produced.

This question, “Who made your clothes”, was brought up to Nike’s founder, Phil Knight in a documentary, “Behind the Swoosh.” In the documentary, a St. John’s University men’s soccer team coach, Jim Keady, visited Nike’s factories in Indonesia, only to find that Nike factory workers were working for low wages in poor and unsafe conditions. When Keady returned to the United Stats, he approached Knight and asked him if he was aware of the harsh working conditions in Nike factories. Knight denied that he knew of the suffering that his factory workers faced overseas. So why the lack of transparency and information? With more careful consideration by companies, such harsh working conditions could be bettered or prevented. The bottom line is that all companies and their consumers need to be informed about the company’s costly impact on people and the world and this is where Fashion Revolution comes in.

This year’s revolution

This year, New York City is offering a number of ways that people can get involved in the revolution. Colleges around New York City, such as the Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design, Rutgers University and the School of Visual Arts (SVA), are holding public events throughout the week of April 24th. The events will include speakers that will talk about sustainability in the fashion industry and a film screening and a clothing swap hosted by Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator.

Fashion Revolution’s Web site also offers advice on how anyone can get involved in the movement and the annual campaign through printable downloads. Through the site, people can contribute to the organization and help Fashion Revolution spread the word. As consumers, retailers and manufacturers, it's important to part in Fashion Revolution in order to draw attention to human rights issues and prevent future disasters from occurring worldwide.

Author Bio:

Ciarra Wentzel is a junior at the Fashion Institute of Technology studying a Bachelor of Science degree in International Trade and Marketing. She is minoring in Ethics and Sustainability and a leader in sustainable fashion. Ciarra is a part of FIT’s compost project and has volunteered to collect compost with non-profit organizations.