Fashion Revolution: The True Cost of Fashion

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Fashion Revolution, on a mission to raise awareness of the true cost of fashion, sets its sights on Asia. Country Coordinator Laura François sheds light on how consumers can get involved in the fashion value chain together.

By Esther Yeo

“When you think about who made my shirt, you can bet it’s another woman. It’s something I find really powerful.”

Founded by Carry Somers, Fashion Revolution’s cause is simple: to disrupt current supply chain practices, thereby creating a fairer, cleaner and more transparent fashion industry. The organisation believes in giving a voice to the makers of our clothes, highlighting their stories, and showing where change needs to happen.

To date, Fashion Revolution is only three years old and already a global movement. In 2016, Fashion Revolution’s #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign saw 70,000 social media users on Twitter calling out massive, high street fashion labels to reveal fairer, transparent value chains.

With over 156 million impressions generated, brands responded.

Exploding into the international scene, Fashion Revolution’s influence prevails with hundreds of country coordinators across the globe. This April, Fashion Revolution Week will be celebrated with clothes swapping, yoga sessions and film screenings worldwide.

Here in Asia, Fashion Revolution’s traction has only just begun. For Country Coordinator Laura François, a collaborative approach in ASEAN could kick things off.

“Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand are quite involved. We are trying to share our resources, see how we can cross-market,” says Laura. “The fact that everyone around the world is doing this on the exact same day helps bring more awareness to Fashion Revolution Week in April.”

Yet, each country’s final agenda will differ from one another.

As the government is directly involved with garment factories, red tape could come into play when worker unions start to demand their rights. To navigate away from these potential risks, Fashion Revolution focuses on educating factory workers with fair work practices.

Conversations with homegrown Cambodian brands have also started. These revolve around using sustainable fabrics, encouraging designers to think about their supply chains in the manufacturing process.

As a consumer-driven economy, Singapore plays the most crucial role in driving Fashion Revolution’s success. Unlike our neighbouring countries, shoppers in Singapore are young, influential, and obsessed with fast-fashion, which makes us partial dictators of how garment factories are running.

“We stand on the part where we let consumers know that if you shop differently, you actually affect the way that factories manufacture things, the way that they work and how they treat their employees,” Laura explains. “We could try and work with factory heads and force them to see differently, but that takes a lot of time and policy that isn’t where Fashion Revolution can stand,” she lets on.  

The more we buy without question, the more likely we are found supporting dubious, unethical sources. As a result, there is more business for manufacturers and unchanged conditions for workers in the fashion value chain.

For Fashion Revolution, changing the way we do fashion can be done in two easy steps. First, cut back on buying cheap, fast fashion. Then make a conscious decision to shop with brands that are transparent and fair.

“People need to know that ethical fashion can look smart and trendy,” says Laura, citing New York City’s Reformation that only creates pieces out of clothing scraps and plastic water bottles as an example. “They’re super sexy, have a fully transparent supply chain, and are at the top of the trendsetting scale!” enthuses Laura.

Celebrities like Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss spotted wearing Reformation

Being part of the Fashion Revolution is also as simple as thinking about these questions: Is it my size? Is it the colour I want? Does it fit me properly? And is it ethical and sustainable? If it’s not, am I okay with that?

“When you think about who made your shirt, you can bet it’s another woman.” Laura says. “It’s something I find really powerful. You want to make sure that she can feed her kids, go to the doctor’s, have a place to stay. We got to look out for each other!”

While fashion is mostly consumed by women, let’s not forget that the (wo)manpower involved in the supply chains is majority female. So the next time you’re having a good time shopping with your girlfriends, make sure you’re including everyone in the fashion value chain together.

Images by Fashion Revolution

Fashion Revolution believes in fashion – an industry which values people, the environment, creativity and profits in equal measure. Celebrate Fashion Revolution Week in Singapore from 24th to 30th April 2017 to ensure that this happens. Check Facebook for more updates.


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