It’s a new month and that means it’s time to get ready for our next event, Pebblefest, on the 27th of April. The event will see organic, sustainable and ethical brands come together for one big fun day out with food, drink, workshops, talks and shopping.
Pebblefest happens during Fashion Revolution Week, which has been happening every last week of April for the past few years. The festival is sponsored by Fashion Revolution and the ticket sales in turn give back to Fashion Revolution (you can read the details on how and why Pebblefest decided to give back here). Today we will take a quick dive into what this all means and why you have been seeing #WhoMadeMyClothes on social media for the past few years. We hope to see you all on the 27th for some sewing magic at Pebblefest!
The Start of a Revolution
In April 2013, the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing nearly 1200 people. All of them were garment workers, mostly women as is common all over the world, and all of them produced garments for big global brands that we all see on the high street every day. It was a catalyst for different laws, treaties and regulations to be drawn up regarding the manufacturing of clothing. Fashion Revolution was born, a non-profit campaigning for transparency in supply chain, workers’ rights, equality and the safety of workers as well as our planet. Every year since then, they organise Fashion Revolution Week to highlight and promote their causes, encouraging consumers to ask #WhoMadeMyClothes and brands to demonstrate transparency with #IMadeYourClothes. Since 2016 they have published a yearly review of 150 big brands to review matters such as transparency, waste management, commitment to sustainable resources, gender equality, etc.
What Companies Can Do
If you own a company or brand, or if you work for one, there are many things you can do. You can check out the review published by Fashion Revolution and see what categories you do well in or where you can improve. It’s also always a good time to look into where your supplies, materials or products come from. Do you know the country of origin? Do you know the address of the factory? Can you talk directly to your supplier? Where is your packaging from? This isn’t a shaming exercise; it’s about being open and curious to learn and improve. You can’t know what you don’t know, so first step would be to track your supply chain or product chain. Once you have more information you can make informed choices: do you want to support this supplier? Do you feel comfortable not knowing the country of origin? If not, it’s completely in your power to change things. You can also set yourself a set of values or ethics and base collaborations or endorsements based on that. This way you have a set of guidelines to navigate when you make a business decision. If you are really clued up on the ins and outs of your company, why not display them? It will increase your transparency towards the customer and it opens up a conversations. Don’t be afraid to put your hands up if you receive a question and you don’t know the answer: the only way is up and we’re all learning!
What You Can Do
During Fashion Revolution Week you can ask your favourite brands who made your clothes, you can encourage them to publish information on how many women work in their factories, ask them if they use chemicals in their dye processes and any other burning queries you may have. You can check your shop bought clothes in your wardrobe and see in what country they were actually made. As a customer you are always allowed to ask companies questions; whether they answer or not is up to theme although it looks better if we do, even if the answer isn’t satisfactory. You can also get involved in events, workshops or debates on the subject and learn a bit more about what transparency means in the fashion world. You can download free materials here and find events near where you live in the world here. Get active on social media using the hashtags #WhoMadeMyClothes and #IMadeMyClothes or #IMadeYourClothes. Have a look on Instagram to get inspired!
Selkie Patterns: Children Of The Revolution?
As a new company we have arrived bang in the middle of a rising commotion around plastic, single use, fast fashion, and general political mayhem. And we did it on purpose. We timed our company’s humble beginnings to coincide with a rising awareness in the matters that we really care about. It goes perfectly with sewing as well. Whereas before, revolutionaries of their time may have made their own clothes to stand out from the crowd and rebel and show how fashion forward or anti-fashion they were, now we can sew our own clothes to send a message too.
As a company we don’t yet have all the answers and we’re learning and improving as we go. We like to publish our ethics, we ask our suppliers lots and lots of questions, we question why things are the way things are and then decide if we are willing to live with it or not. We welcome questions, respond to inquiries and do our best to improve when we realise we have dropped the ball in a certain department.
Where You Can Learn More
- On FutureLearn, a brilliant online learning platform, you can currently take two free courses in this subject, which is an amazing resource if you want to learn more out of curiosity, if you want to get involved or if you own a brand. Fashion Revolution created a course called Who Made My Clothes and we are currently taking the course Fashion and Sustainability.
- You can read Fashion Revolution’s reviews here and see how your favourite big brand score on the transparency index.
- You can vote with you money and buy from brands and companies whose transparency you trust. When buying from a small company, you also know to whom your money is going. There is unlikely to be a director with a shady bonus somewhere at the top of the food chain, rather enabling small business owners to live good lives doing what they do best.
- Start your own thing! See something that you like but think it could be better? Go for it.
We hope this has given you an insight into Fashion Revolution Week, why it exists and where you can learn more. Come and see us at PebbleFest for much more!