This week marks the sixth anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, in which 1,138 people were killed and thousands more injured. Fashion Revolution has been calling for transparency in the fashion industry ever since, with millions of people across the globe taking part.
“Fashion Revolution Week has been growing year on year. Brands, retailers and consumers are realising how important transparency is. It is driving accountability, which is eventually leading to the change we desperately need to see,” says founder and global operations director of Fashion Revolution, Carry Somers.
Sustainable fashion brands across the globe are using this week to host pop-up shops, events and talks to share their stories with an ever-more conscious audience.
In London, Fashion Open Studio is working with the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Christopher Raeburn and Elvis & Kresse to host presentations, talks and open workshops that put sustainable fashion practices in the spotlight.
The Lone Design Club has popped-up on Baker Street. Labelled “the antidote to fast fashion” it celebrates independent designers - some with brilliant sustainable stories such as Yala Jewellery, Asmuss and Marianes. There’s also menswear from Komodo and tailored swimwear from Riz, which has spent 10 years developing its range of shorts made from 100 per cent recycled plastics.
All of these events mean for most of us it doesn’t get much easier to get access to the people designing and making great clothes or an excuse to shop - more ethically - before payday.
The Transparency Index
However, these brands are the exception and the lack of concern for the safety and rights of the workers remains a huge problem today.
As such, Fashion Revolution publish an annual Transparency Index that reviews and ranks 200 of the biggest global fashion apparel brands and retailers according to how open they are about their supply chains.
This year is the first time any brand has scored more than 60 per cent in the index, but none score more than 65 per cent and the average score was just 21 per cent.
Adidas, Reebok, Patagonia, Esprit and H&M take top spots in the index by scoring the highest in the 61-70% range. The biggest movers in the index were Dior, Sainsbury's, Nike, New Balance and Marc Jacobs, but it must be said that though luxury brands are becoming less opaque, they still trail woefully behind, Tom Ford, for example didn't score any points at all.
Transparency doesn’t necessarily equal an ethical supply chain, but it is important because when companies publish this information it helps NGOs, unions and local communities to stand up to human rights and environmental issues. It gives otherwise invisible and silenced workers a platform to speak out.
“The global apparel and footwear industry accounts for eight per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, more than the airline and shipping industries combined, and expected to almost double by 2030, according to a recent report from Quantis,” says Sarah Ditty who compiled the report.
“Considering the urgent need to act upon the climate crisis, we were surprised that brands were not disclosing more information and data about their environmental impacts and strategies.”
So, this week especially, consider who made your clothes when you are getting dressed each day. Perhaps check out an event near you. Definitely be one of the hundreds of thousands of people who are asking their favourite brands #whomademyclothes on social media.
Such a simple question, such a huge possibility for change.
Lizzie Rivera is the founder of ethical lifestyle site: www.bicbim.co.uk. BICBIM is taking part in the LDC pop-up.