How to start a fashion revolution

It seems an increasing amount of shoppers are feeling the frustration when it comes to trying to buy clothes with an ethical or environmental conscience. Fashion Revolution Day, on 24th April, is one day of the year when we have the opportunity to be part of a fashion revolution, and even start our own.

The 24th of April marks the day when the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed in 2013, taking with it the lives of over a 1000  garment workers. Many of the brands we have come to recognise on our UK high streets have paid out contributions to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, set up to compensate victims and their families. This event ignited the minds of some fashion revolutionaries, who marked the date as ‘Fashion Revolution Day‘. On Fashion Revolution Day we are all encouraged to become ‘fashion revolutionaries’, with people around the world choosing to wear their clothing inside out, taking a selfie with their clothes label and asking brands ‘who made my clothes?”.

The Fashion Revolution Day campaign has attracted followers from all over the world. I got more involved with the campaign in 2015, choosing to ask Londoners to cut out the labels in their clothing and collect them on a huge wall. We managed to collect over 1000 labels, to match the same number of people who died during the Rana Plaza factory collapse. Little did I realise, I had helped start a fashion revolution amongst my fellow students. This year, 2016, is set to be the biggest gathering of fashion revolutionaries ever, but still more students are needed to start their own fashion revolutions! Student Ambassadors from Universities around the UK, and globally, will be starting their own fashion revolution events on their own university campus. Arranging your own wall of clothing labels is just one way you can start a fashion revolution in a place near you. Here’s a quick little how to guide, based on my experience organising my wall of clothes labels last year.

1. Get informed

There are many blogs and sites out there bursting with facts, opinions and research on the truth behind our clothing labels. Fashion Revolution Day’s latest white paper on transparent supply chains, gives an encompassing look at the issues surrounding the fashion industry and it’s impact on our planet and the people on it. You might try to focus in on one topic you feel particularly strong about, such as child labour, and go crazy finding out about a small part of the issue in-depth. Once you’re passionately informed, you should enjoy sharing what you’ve learnt with others. I have found sharing tangible quick facts can grab attention, such as ‘the Global Slavery Index estimates that 36 million people are living in modern slavery today’.

2. Gather other fashion revolutionaries

To start a fashion revolution, you’re obviously going to need some other fashion revolutionaries to get involved. Start talking to friends and family about the issues surrounding their clothing, ask them what they think of the information you’ve discovered. Ask them what changes, if any, they might like to see about they way they buy their clothing, for example would they be interested to know who made their clothing? The more you share your thoughts, the more ideas you start to create about how to start your fashion revolution.

3. Make a plan

Now make those bright ideas happen, and make a plan! Ask yourself a few questions: Who do you want to come to your event? What do you want to make them think about? What do you want them to do as a result of coming to your event? For example, I love travel and I knew a lot of my friends did too, so I wanted student consumers to think about where and the context in which their clothing was made. As a result I wanted them to look at their clothing labels saying ‘Made In’ and be able to better imagine the places their clothing might have been made in next time they shopped. Once I had a clearer idea of the end result in mind, I found it easier to work back and start writing my plan. What do you need to do now, tomorrow and in the next days until 24th April to make your event happen? Write a list of the things you need to get done, and who will be responsible for getting each part done. Sharing the responsibilities with your other fashion revolutionaries makes things a little easier. When arranging a wall of clothes labels, I knew I needed to find a venue, some kind of wall or board which we were allowed to stick the labels on, materials and people to go out and ask people to cut their clothing labels. I found having somewhere cool for people to gather and see the wall grow as more people came to pin up their cut labels, created the perfect atmosphere for people to just chat about their clothing.

4. Shout about it

In the lead up to Fashion Revolution Day, get the word out there about the amazingly life changing event you are about to arrange! Be inventive, be cheeky, this is a revolution after all! Graphics can help grab attention on social media or in posters and flyers.

5. Do it

There’s nothing else left to say except make it happen. Don’t forget to have lots of fun whilst you’re making your event happen, talk to the people who come along to your event and find out why they came along.
I can still remember that amazing feeling after I had organised the wall of clothing labels last year. I was surprised by the huge amount of support I got, from friends old and new! It got me thinking about how lots of small revolutions, based locally, but part of a global movement, could really be the key to a real revolution. It’s powerful to be a part of a community of Fashion Revolutionaries. If you’re tempted to become a Student Ambassador, now you already know how to start a fashion revolution. Making a wall of clothes labels is just one idea, but if you do make your own wall, please do let me know!

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