Join the revolution!
Meet fashion activist Carry Somers, the driving force behind the hashtag #whomademyclothes and supply chain transparency in the fashion industry.
do you know who makes your clothes? No, not the brand name, but the garment workers who are needled by ridiculously low wages, long hours and poor working conditions to feed our appetite for statement ‘must-haves’.
This question had long troubled Carry Somers, the founder of Pachacuti, a global Fair Trade brand specialising in Panama hats. After the 2013 collapse of the eight-storey Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, which housed a garment making factory used by many clothing brands and retailers, she was galvanised into action.
The disaster killed over 1 100 people and left about 2 500 injured. It was one of the worst industrial accidents ever and certainly the worst in the history of the fashion and textile industry.
Horrified and concerned by the abuse and exploitation of workers, as well as other ethical issues, Carry enlisted the help of eco-fashion innovator Orsola de Castro, and the pair started the Fashion Revolution campaign.
The Fashion Revolution message has taken the world by storm and calls for a more transparent, sustainable and ethical fashion industry. On the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy, Fashion Revolution urged individuals to wear their clothes inside out and ask brands the question “who made my clothes?” by showing the label.
Here, Carry tells us more about the movement which has put conscious shopping into the forefront of our minds and made us more aware of the stories behind the clothes we buy.
GLAMOUR How did the idea of the Fashion Revolution campaign come about? CARRY Following the Rana Plaza disaster there was such a lack of transparency that campaigners had to search through the rubble to find clothing labels that proved which brands were producing there – and the brands themselves took weeks to work out their exact relationship with the Rana factory.
I became convinced that we needed to channel public concern into a lasting campaign so that the victims of Rana Plaza, and all other tragedies that have occurred in the name of fashion, are never forgotten.
Transparency is the vital first step in transforming the fashion industry; it reveals the threads that bind consumers to the farmers and workers whose lives are woven into garments that we wear every day.
What are you most proud of?
Our success in raising awareness worldwide. We have engaged fashion lovers around the globe, and suggested tangible and creative ways to be part of the solution.
This year, our first fanzine Money Fashion Power, explores the stories behind clothing, what the price you pay really means and how your buying
power can help to make a positive difference.
I’m also incredibly proud of the visibility we’ve given to workers through the social media hashtag #Imadeyourclothes. Last year, more than 1 200 fashion brands and retailers responded with photographs of their workers saying #Imadeyourclothes! How can we be sure our clothes are ethically made? Start by asking “who made my clothes?” Once we know the answer to that question, we can be sure that what we buy has not been made at the expense of workers’ dignity or the environment. Every one of us can play a part in making the world of fashion a much more beautiful place!
Where do you see Fashion Revolution in 10 years time? I believe that transparency will become widespread and obligatory, right down to knowing how the raw material was sourced. This will mean that we are able to address social and environmental issues, and ensure that workers’ needs and safety are met from the outset.
One of our main projects for 2017 is the Garment Worker Diaries. This year-long research project focuses on the lives of garment workers in southern Asia, exploring what they’re paid and how they spend their earnings. We’ll use these findings to lobby for changes in corporate policies.
How can we help? Join people around the world by posting a photograph on social media that shows you and the label you’re wearing. Remember to tag the brand and ask #whomademyclothes? That will become part of our drive to encourage brands to publicise the many workers whose hands have touched our clothes during their journey to our wardrobes.
And think differently about your relationship with your clothes. Replace a big shopping spree with new, less wasteful ways of refreshing your look, such as updating or repairing what you already have.
What is Fashion Revolution Week, and how can I join? Fashion Revolution Week runs around the world every year in April, and we hope it will encourage people to learn more about the stories behind their clothing. But really, it’s an all-yearlong approach that involves thinking differently about the clothes you buy. So think before you shop and support ethical local designers, such as the ones who participated in the Fashion Revolution show at 2017 MercedesBenz Fashion Week.
“Transparency is the first step in transforming the fashion industry.”
The #Imadeyourclothes movement is trending on social media.