Watch any award show, and the majority of the time you’ll hear the question asked: “Who are you wearing?” And, when it comes to my work in theatre, it’s no exception to hear, “Who is the designer of those beautiful costumes?” One question that seems to be absent from these is, “Who made these clothes?” This question is rarely considered, but after the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh on April 24, 2013, the treatment of those who work in garment factories became more evident and cause for concern. Unfortunately, the fashion industry still employs questionable production methods, and there’s little thought behind the people are who make our clothing and the hardships they endure. Am I saying we should feel guilt for having shopped at some of these popular fashion brands? No, but I do believe fashion brands need to look into their supply chains to reveal and change the unethical practices in the fashion industry.
How can we do this? By becoming part of Fashion Revolution Day, a specific day set aside to remember those who lost their lives and were injured in Rana Plaza. This is not only a day of remembrance, but also a time to advocate for change in the fashion industry. This year I’ve joined in the advocacy by following these steps:
(1) Wearing my clothes inside out.
(2) Taking photos of my outfit.
(3) Posting my photos on social media, tagging the clothing brands who made my clothing with the hashtags #whomademyclothes? #FashRev
To give you an idea today of how to show support, here’s a couple of examples of my own outfits:
Our efforts may seem small, but with continued support and change of shopping habits, we can make our voices heard as consumers. I’m not suggesting the work of designers isn’t important, but rather the work and working conditions of sewers, pattern-makers, drapers, and tailors be recognized for being just as important. Even fashion colleges and performing arts companies are beginning to see the importance of stitchers, as seen in Newsweek’s article “Dearth of Tutu-Makers Puts Ballet in Crisis.” With most clothing construction seen as a lot of work for very little profit and recognition, it’s hard to find people who will choose these professions and carry on traditions. Many times, when people learn I know how to sew they assume my work is easy and deserves little pay. Looking through my closet, I often think of the people who sewed my garments and fell into this same category with little value for their work. I’m part of this revolution because I want to show the value these workers have in the fashion industry. I want to tell the stories about their lives, work, and craftsmanship to bring a face and a name to those who manufacture everyday products we use. Today is about pushing clothing companies to look into their supply chains and give recognition and better working conditions for those who sew our clothes. If you agree with me, then please join today in the Fashion Revolution and turn your clothes inside out.
What other ways do you think we can change current practices in the fashion industry? What importance do artisans have in the industry?
Additional Resources for Fashion Revolution Day:
Eco Warrior Princess: Fashion Revolution Day #whomademyclothes?
Kindness by Design: Are You A Fashion Revolutionary?
The Notepasser: The Ethical Writers on Fashion Revolution