Transparency is the key which enables us to realise what we are buying, and what kind of industry we are supporting with our purchases. Our choices (both as companies and as individuals) are paving the way the industry will take in order to accommodate our desires and consumption patterns.
Fashion Revolution is a global movement born on 24 April 2013, when the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1138 people. Five garment factories were housed in the building, and many victims (mostly young women) were manufactoring products for big global brands.
Since that day, Fashion Revolution has been constantly trying to shed light on the living conditions of the 75 million people who stand behind our closets.
Fashion Revolution aims to safeguard both people and environment, and they want to do it using transparency and traceability. According to them, every bit of the fashion chain (from the industries to ordinary consumers) can be considered as a policymaker, because each of our choices has an impact on the environment and human lives.
In their official website, the people behind Fashion Revolution state that “transparency shines a light on issues often kept in the dark”. That is why each of us should ask themselves the same question: “Who made my clothes?” – and, obviously, we should ask it to the brands and retailers we buy from, too.
In order to make sure that human rights are respected and the environment is safeguarded, we need to know where the products we buy are made, who is making them and under what kind of conditions. From cotton farms to the spinners and weavers working in factories all around the world, from the hands of the sewers to the store shelves we pick a t-shirt from – the journey of all the products we buy should be “open” and readable.
Using a framework developed by researchers R. Earley and K. Goldsworthy, Fashion Revolution aims to achieve change addressing three key issues: the model underlying the current business of fashion, the materials we tend to use, and the mindset that makes us addicted to the speed and volume of our purchases – all these things need to change.
In order to help us being more conscious, Fashion Revolution issued a document called “Fashion Transparency Index”. The 2018 edition reviews and ranks 150 of the biggest fashion brands and retailers according to how much information they disclose about their supply chain policies and practices. Brands and retailers are assessed across five different areas: policy and commitments, governance, traceability, “know, show & fix”, and spotlight issues.
Fashion Revolution states that “transparency is a process” – and even when being transparent looks like a difficult taks, every company should keep in mind that avoiding tragedies such as the Rana Plaza accident is definitely worth the effort.
Transparency leads to accountability, and accountability leads to change. Everyone can (and should) do its part to make the fashion industry a better place, and we can start taking inspiration from the cues that Fashion Revolution is offering us.
If you want to read the Fashion Transparency Index 2018, you can find the full text here.