The fashion industry is changing for the better. Fashion Revolution's #whomademyclothes campaign began in 2013 in response to the Rana Plaza disaster and since then, the public and the industry has made a lot of progress towards fair, ethical and sustainable fashion. Want to know what's been happening? Read on.
1. More people now know that a little thing called ‘sustainable fashion’ exists.
There's nothing like a celebrity endorsement to capture the attention of a mainstream audience. Suzy Amis Cameron founded Red Carpet Green Dress in 2009 and has worked with international fashion designers to dress actors in ethical formal wear for the Academy Awards. Many celebrities have stood with RCGD and walked the red carpet in the name of sustainability including Sophie Turner (X-Men, Game of Thrones) and Gina Rodriguez (Annihilation, Jane the Virgin). The popularity of RCGD has grown immensely and has shown the world that sustainable, ethical and vintage fashion can be incredibly stylish.
I was so excited when Vogue Australia decided to feature sustainable fashion for their March 2018 edition. It felt like a real turning point and has helped educate and reach so many people that may not have previously been interested in the concept of sustainable fashion. Guest edited by Emma Watson (an outspoken advocate for sustainable fashion) and Sandra Capponi, founder of the Good On You App, this edition highlighted the environmental and societal importance for ethical and sustainable fashion. Vogue used this edition to feature sustainable fashion labels, loudly declaring sustainable fashion as 'cool', shaking off old stereotypes that sustainable fashion is ugly, weird, hippy, niche or boring.
"It seems we have hit a turning point in 2018. Silenced voices are becoming amplified and media outlets are shining a spotlight on the people and groups challenging for change."
Vogue Australia has also employed a full time sustainability editor (yay!) to make sure that the magazine keeps a sustainable focus moving forward. In my opinion, the concept of sustainable fashion was too niche to capture the attention of Vogue even a year ago, but a lot can change in a year and I'm so glad mainstream media is embracing sustainable fashion.
2. Consumers are not only paying attention, but engaging with sustainable fashion.
The mistreatment of garment workers got to us. Celebrities got to us, Vogue got to us, social media got to us and more consumers are paying attention to the origins of their clothes.
Image from Fashion Revolution
The stats don't lie. In 2017, 2 million people engaged with the Fashion Revolution campaign in April through social media, events or downloading resources from the Fashion Revolution website. Fashion Revolution's social media impact was incredible in 2017, with 533 million impressions of posts using one of the Fashion Revolution hashtags during April, which is an increase of almost 250% on 2016's statistics. I can't wait to get my hands on the 2018 stats!
3. Companies and fashion labels are engaging with sustainable fashion.
The Australian Organic Cotton industry has seen an incredible surge in interest over the past year with many Australian and international brands turning away from synthetic fibres and towards organic cotton. Big brands like Kmart and Target as well as smaller designer brands were amongst those interested and this trend is set to grow over the coming years.
"A couple of years ago we struggled to get even eight people on a plane out to a visit like this, and now we've got thirty people here today." - Brooke Summers, Cotton Australia
A report conducted by Baptist World Aid found that there has been an marked increase in the percentage of fashion companies working to trace where their fabrics and raw materials come from. From the companies surveyed, in 2018 eight companies - up from three in 2013 - pay their garment workers a living wage. Although 8 out of 407 companies is comparatively few, this trend indicates that more companies will follow suit.
With momentum building and sustainable fashion bursting into the mainstream media, there's no better time to ask #whomademyclothes and put the pressure on companies to treat the environment and their workers with respect. Fashion Revolution have a lot of great resources to help you take action and I encourage you to make use of them. Let's do this!