Fairtrade Foundation calls for change one year after Rana Plaza

Women in cotton fields

The Fairtrade Foundation joins campaigners and big names in the fashion industry  in a global day of action calling for a better deal for the millions of cotton farmers  and  factory workers whose hard work, low pay and unsafe working conditions lie behind many of the fashion labels on our clothes.

The Fairtrade Foundation has joined Fashion Revolution, a coalition of agencies, key figures from the fashion industry, press and academics in 52 countries worldwide to call for greater transparency and better connections across the textile supply chain.

Fashion Revolution Day on 24 April 2014 will highlight the challenges of the  textile supply chain and start a revolution that extends from our wardrobes all the way back to the cotton fields.

The global day of action marks the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, which killed 1,133 people, and injured many more, when the factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Fashion Revolution Day is making the challenge ‘Who Made Your Clothes?’  Fashion lovers can show their support for farmers and workers in the textile industry by wearing an item of clothing inside out to show off the label, photographing it and then sharing it on all social networks with the hashtag #insideout. The action will send a clear signal to the industry that the public want change.

Michael Gidney, Chief Executive of the Fairtrade Foundation says: ‘Fashion Revolution Day is the good that has come out of that tragic day last year.  Then, people were horrified that they might have been buying clothes made in such terrible conditions.  That has sparked a determination that this should never happen again, with people in their thousands looking to hold clothing companies to account.  This is a movement that will make its voice heard on April 24th this year in the first ever global day of action.’

More than 20 of the biggest names in ethical fashion are backing the campaign - from retail expert and broadcaster Mary Portas to entrepreneur Jo Wood and eco-journalist Lucy Siegle along with Fairtrade ambassadors Anita Rani, Louis Smith, Mica Paris and Cheska Hull.

Inspired by a trip to Fairtrade cotton farmers in Mali, British fashion and celebrity photographer Trevor Leighton has photographed a series of portraits of celebrity ambassadors to articulate the #insideout social media challenge.

The campaign will also share stories of the people behind the clothes and bring together areas of best practice. Join the conversation on Twitter @Fash_Rev and on the Fashion Revolution Facebook page.

There will be events and activities from Somerset House to the House of Lords and all around the UK - catwalks and panels discussions, film screenings and knitting evenings, quiz nights and gatherings.  Global events will include a mass catwalk in the centre of Barcelona; a workshop in Nepal on how to clean up waste water from dye houses; a fashion show in Bangladesh with producers wearing the clothes they make; a touring exhibition in Swaziland documenting the lives of local artisans and fashion boutiques the world over will turn their window displays #insideout to show their involvement.

Gidney continues: ‘The links in the garment supply chain have been broken: people have become disconnected from the people who make their clothes.  This makes it all too easy for farmers and workers at the far end of supply chains to become marginalised.  Fairtrade focuses on the plight of the cotton farmer at the very start of a garment’s life, in countries such as Mali and India. Cotton farmers are amongst the poorest farmers in the world and are too often overlooked. Ensuring they are treated fairly is not only a moral imperative but also the only way to ensure long-term sustainable supplies of cotton.’

According to research by Deloitte in 2013 , 61% of companies surveyed don’t know where their garments were made, and 2 in 3 fashion companies are not focused on engaging consumers with regard to sustainability. Fashion Revolution Day says enough is enough.

Fashion Revolution Day Co founder Orsola de Castro says: ‘We hope that Fashion Revolution Day will initiate a process of discovery, raising awareness of the fact that buying is only the last step in a long journey involving hundreds of people: the invisible workforce behind the clothes we wear.’

Find out more at http://www.fashionrevolution.org/. Like Fashion Revolution on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/fashionrevolution.org and follow @Fash_Rev on Twitter.