In April of 2013, garment workers in the giant Rana Plaza in Bangladesh noticed cracks in the building’s foundation. They reported the problem, but were threatened with loss of a month’s pay if they did not return to work. Then, on April 24, the Rana Plaza collapsed, killing over 1,100 unpaid and underpaid garment workers, including children.
The Western world could no longer hide from the reality of sweatshops and unethical labor in our fashion supply chains. Twenty-nine fashion brands were represented at Rana Plaza, including many that are familiar to Western shoppers, like Walmart, JCPenney, The Children’s Place, Zara, Benetton, Primark, and more. The Rana Plaza Collapse forced us to look at reality.
Fashion Revolution Week memorializes this tragedy every year, and uses the week as a chance to hold brands accountable for the labor practices that make their clothes. But we also want to celebrate the good when we see it! So many clothing brands are doing it right—paying great wages, providing safe and comfortable working conditions, giving back, and treating the planet well in the process. DoneGood exists to help you find them! Here’s a few updates on how DoneGood marketplace brands are making the world a better place and joining in on Fashion Revolution week!
Encircled believes that their customers should never have to make any compromises with ethics, sustainability or versatility! That’s why they create endlessly functional and beautiful apparel that’s great for the environment and their workers! Encircled’s collection of high-quality fashion staples are proudly 100% Canadian-made with fairly-paid labor. In addition to the stringent labor regulations, minimum wage, and health and safety regulations, every factory and partner is required to sign an ethical checklist-further ensuring their commitment to putting workers first. For Fashion Revolution Week, you can check out Encircled’s celebration of slow fashion with factory profiles on their Instagram page!
Astor + Orion knows that good intentions alone aren’t enough to ensure ethical treatment of their workers and the planet—that’s why they go above and beyond to build a sustainable supply chain! They use recycled metals and cutting-edge 3-D technology to design and sculpt their beautiful jewelry, they’ve got third-party certifications galore (seriously, see them all here), and they provide great pay, plenty of paid time off, paid maternity leave, and free lunch on site to all their amazing workers. Astor + Orion founder, Karen, is the city lead for Fashion Revolution in Seattle and is passionate about promoting sustainable fashion in the region. She and the PNW Fashion Revolution Team put together the Seattle Sustainable Fashion Guide featuring amazing ethical brands like Prairie Underground and Sassafras.
Back in 2010, Tanja Cesh realized that anywhere there is a need for cheap labor and people desperate for work, modern-day slavery is happening. So she founded MULXIPLY to ethically create products—like jewelry, bags, and other amazing accessories—that were made by artists, not by demand-driven factories or fashion cycles. MULXIPLY forms relationships with the artists they work with. They learn from each other and let the maker drive the process. By keeping their production in small, often family-run, teams throughout the Kathmandu valley, this amazing slow fashion brand is committed to caring for each other and working together to break the cycle of modern slavery.
Delilah Home is all about intentionality. They care about great quality home goods, the environment, the people who make their products, and you! Their 100% certified organic cotton and hemp towels and sheets are made with eco-friendly processes no toxins in their supply chain. Even better, they're all sweatshop-free—produced in Fair Trade factories that pay well above minimum wage and Delilah Home gives back to charities in the communities where their goods are made!
How you can get involved:
Whether you’re still playing it safe at home, or starting to get back out there, here are 5 ways to get involved with Fashion Revolution Week 2021!
Engage with Fast Fashion Brands on Social Media
Join hundreds of others who are reaching out directly to brands that are utilizing unfair labor in their supply chains: write “Who made my clothes?” on a sheet of paper (or find a printable here). Then, take a picture with that sign and an apparel item from a fast fashion brand (with the label showing). Post the photo with a short caption on social media, tag the brand, and use the hashtag #whomademyclothes.
Write a Postcard to your Policymakers
Fashion Revolution has a postcard template that you can print out and send to your government officials. Find the names and public addresses of policymakers who represent you, send them this postcard, and let them know that their constituents care about labor issues. You just might start to see policy changes on minimum wage, working conditions, and laws that protect people and the environment.
If the idea of ethical fashion is new to you (or even if it’s not!), take some time to learn about ethical issues in the fashion industry and how sustainable fashion brands are working to change things. You can learn a ton just by clicking around our blog—we try to get good info out there to help you learn and find what you need. You can also find free informational resources through Fashion Revolution.
Attend or Host an Event
You might find an official Fashion Revolution event near you here, but you can also host your own event! The possibilities are endless here! Host an educational event, a fundraiser, a clothing swap, or a fashion show highlighting some of your favorite ethical brands. If you’re still more comfortable hosting events virtually, this past year has taught us how to do that with excellence! Host any of the previous events with Facebook or Instagram live!
Use your window
In 2020, people in lockdown around the world used the windows in their homes to share messages of inspiration and protest. Why stop just because things are starting to open up? This is an easy way to spread awareness! This Fashion Revolution Week, use your windows to ignite a Fashion Revolution, and spread the word! Find downloadable posters here.
Writer, editor, and all-around language enthusiast who uses her love of words to help others.