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Fashion Revolution I: Are you ready for Fashion Revolution Week?

Project 333 - minimalism in practice

Let’s get one thing straight: fashion is political.

Whether we like it or not, the choices we make and the clothes we wear come at a cost – and I don’t mean just for us. And while the prices of clothes have gone down over the years, making 'fast fashion' favourable for a lot of us, the human and environmental costs keep going up.

You may recall the tragic collapse of Rana Plaza complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 24th of 2013. This incident cost 1,134 lives and injured over 2,500.

The truth is, if clothing companies and brands were more transparent and honest, then we would be able to make sensible choices too. But have you ever picked up a clothing item that reads: "contains toxic dyes and chemicals?" Or maybe something like: "this item was made by women working in extremely harsh environments." How about, "the person who made this T-shirt was not paid fairly." No, we walk into a well-lit, beautiful shop and purchase our clothes without knowing their backstory and without recognising their impact on the environment.

After the incident in Bangladesh, Fashion Revolution was born: a movement that demands the answer to these types of questions. Isn’t it our right, as consumers to know how our clothes are made and at what cost? To make this a bit more concrete, let’s talk numbers and facts:

  • The world consumes about 80 million new pieces of clothing per year (a 400% increase in just two decades)
  • This means our clothes also become disposable: more clothes = more waste
  • About half of our clothes are made out of cotton, and 90% of that cotton is now genetically modified, using too much water as well as chemicals
  • Cotton production is now responsible for 18% of worldwide pesticide use and 25% of total insecticide use
  • Aside from the cruelty, the leather tanning process is one of the most toxic practices in the fashion industry
  • 97% of our clothes are made overseas which often means we cannot be sure of its regulations
  • About 85% of all garment workers are women
  • Global fashion brands continue to profit from their use of cheap labour in foreign countries.

(For more information about the fashion industry watch the truly eye opening documentary The True Cost and check out their site for more facts and information behind the fashion industry)

I’m not here to just overwhelm you with these facts and figures.

Fashion Revolution represents something great. It demonstrates resistance, and it shows that we demand transparency and justice. Don’t ever forget your power as a consumer and buyer. You vote with your money. So, on April 24th, wear your clothes inside out, get on Social Media and ask away: #whomademyclothes.

Read Part II: Top Tips for Turning Your Fashion Ethical & Eco

Find out more

'The True Cost' website:

Fashion Revolution: Ways to get involved

About the author: Zahra Khosroshahi

I’m a PhD student at UEA, looking at the representation of women in Iranian cinema. When I’m not consumed by films, I like to write about environmental issues. I believe we all need to take better care of our shared and only home.

Follow me on Instagram for more zero-waste and eco inspiration: @zahra_livinglifenatural