This week our team headed to Somerset House for a select panel discussion, organised in collaboration with Fashion Revolution Day, to look at what has has been achieved in regards to parliamentary activity, since its launch two years ago.
Fashion Revolution Day was initiated as a response to the Rana Plaza tragedy, to commemorate the collapse of a manufacturing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh on the 24th April 2013. This day marks the tragic death of 1133 workers, as well as more than 2500 others who were injured in the catastrophe. Today there are 69 countries participating in the worldwide campaign of Fashion Revolution Day which is raising awareness of the need for further transparency in the fashion industry.
The event at Somerset House was chaired by Baroness Lola Young and the panel members were Mike Gidney, Executive Director of Fairtrade Foundation, People Tree`s Founder and CEO, Safia Minney, MBE and Sarah Ditty, Editor-in-Chief at SOURCE Intelligence, Ethical Fashion Forum.
Fashion, by nature, is fast and a lot of people want to have some involvement in the industry and its trends, but as Mike Gidney pointed out – this has to be regulated. The free market trickle-down theory does not work and never has. The exploitation of people and the environment gets deeper and deeper. Politicians need to use regulations and financial incentives in order “to create an environment in which organisations must operate in an ethical way” – Mike Gidney.
Our CEO, Safia Minney, spoke about the difficulties and barriers to entry which ethical and Fair Trade businesses face. Sustainable and Fair Trade fashion does require huge investments in supply chain development and the certification process. Safia suggests governments should not charge VAT to Fair Trade and ethical businesses, in order to facilitate sustainable development and drive the new industry forward. Financial and legislative support would mean that fair fashion and organic products would become more affordable and accessible to the general public.
Sarah Ditty, who is Policy Director of the Fashion Revolution global co-ordination team, introduced their new project called the ‘haulternative‘ – including Bip Ling`s ethical fashion haul video with People Tree. The Fashion Revolution team joined forces with YouTube fashion vloggers, who reach out to millions of viewers every single week. The goal is to show that there are many alternatives to average high street fashion, including vintage, DIY, upcycling, swishing or ethically made garments.
Although government involvement is important, in the course of history it has always been public uproar that has brought about significant social and political change. To quote Baroness Lola Young: “You have got a vote, let us change things.”
You are part of the change. Get involved and engage in the conversation. Post a picture of your label on social media on the 24th April, international Fashion Revolution Day, and ask your favourite brand #WhoMadeMyClothes.