21 April, 2015

Fashion Revolution Day 2015 Q&A with Carry Somers

by Anna Galandzij, Fairtrade Foundation

Carry Somers is a pioneer in Fair Trade fashion, creator of ethical brand Pachacuti and the initiator of the Fashion Revolution movement.

What is Fashion Revolution Day?

Fashion Revolution Day was created in response to the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, 24 April 2013, when 1,133 people were killed and many more injured. It has grown into a global movement in 69 countries comprised of designers, brands, retailers, producers, academics, and organisations calling for systematic reform of the fashion supply chain.

We have created a platform which everyone can use to ask questions, raise standards and set an industry-wide example of what better looks like.  Whilst much has been done by individual organisations over the years to bring about change, Fashion Revolution provides a platform for best practice initiatives from across the supply chain. Everything from Fairtrade, which focuses on the cotton farmer at the beginning of the supply chain to the designers finding creative ways reduce waste.

Each year, Fashion Revolution will drive forward a different campaign to tackle some of the fashion industry’s most pressing issues. It will keep the most vulnerable in the supply chain in the public eye and challenge the industry to do better. It will also demonstrate that change is possible by showcasing examples of those who are already creating a better future for fashion. 


What do you say to people who were horrified at the disaster, but can’t afford to pay extra for ethically-sourced clothing? 

We’re not asking people to boycott their favourite stores, we need to change the fashion industry from within.  By asking the brands and retailers where we like to shop “Who Made My Clothes?” we can put pressure on them to be more transparent about their supply chains.

In terms of the price, three quarters of those questioned in a YouGov/Global Poverty Project survey said they would be likely to pay an extra 5% for their clothes if there was a guarantee workers were being paid fairly and working in safe conditions. It has been estimated that putting as little as 25p onto the cost of a garment made in Bangladesh would provide the producers with a living wage and pay for factories to meeting fire and building safety standards.

What are you trying to change?

We don’t know the true cost of the things we buy. The fashion industry supply chain is fractured and producers have become faceless. This is costing lives.  All over the world, people are suffering and our environment is at risk as a result of our fashion supply chain.  Fashion Revolution is aimed at making life better for everyone in the fashion industry: from cotton fields to cutting floors who work long hours for low pay. By working alongside experts, we aim to showcase realistic sustainable solutions and incorporate them into the fashion industry.

How can we get involved in Fashion Revolution Day?

  • Wear your clothing inside out on April 24th and take a selfie. Tweet: I want @ (brand) to tell me Who Made My Clothes? #FashRev
  • Put on an event, however large or small. Our website has plenty of resources and ideas.
  • Get your local school involved – education packs for all ages are on our Resources page
  • Visit www.fashionrevolution.org for more information

Has much changed since Rana Plaza?

There have been many improvements in the fashion supply chain since the dust has settled on the Rana Plaza disaster, although it is unfortunate that it has taken a tragedy of this scale to start to bring about change.

The Bangladesh Accord is a significant milestone towards better working conditions in Bangladesh, and hopefully throughout the industry. The new business model being developed is based more on a bottom up than a top down approach, with stakeholder engagement throughout the supply chain, as well as amendments to labour law, improved training and improvements to fire and building standards.

However, there is still more to be done. The minimum wage still covers only 60% of the cost of living in a slum.   The Australian Fashion Report published last week found that 86% of fashion brands surveyed were not actively seeking to pay a living wage to the workers in their supply chains.

Cotton Kady Waylie

What do you think we can achieve if we change the way we consume?

Consuming is about fulfilling needs: and one of our fundamental needs is the need to belong. I believe that our need to belong within society can be satisfied not just through buying beautiful garments, but also by building connections with the wider community of people who made our clothes. Knowing the story and seeing the faces behind a garment will help to satisfy our need for identity and participation far more than affiliation to any brand or logo. Consumer demand can revolutionise the way fashion works as an industry. If everyone started to question the way we consume, we'd see a radically different fashion paradigm.


For more information, visit http://fashionrevolution.org and follow @Fash_Rev or https://www.facebook.com/fashionrevolution.org. 



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