Join the rev­o­lu­tion!

Meet fash­ion ac­tivist Carry Somers, the driv­ing force be­hind the hash­tag #whomade­my­clothes and sup­ply chain trans­parency in the fash­ion in­dus­try.

Glamour (South Africa) - - News - By de­signer Carry Somers

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.

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