I don’t usually write about clothes. Being a skinny jeans + a T-shirt kinda gal, I’ve never really had much to say. But with 2019’s Fashion Revolution Week coming to a close today, I wanted to talk about shopping, fast fashion, and how I’m changing my approach to it.
There have been a lot of great pieces about the week and what you can do to help, too, so I’ve included links and quotes to three of my favourites down below.
What is Fashion Revolution Week?
Fashion Revolution Week started in 2013, after the devastating Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh. Rana Plaza housed factories where workers made clothes for brands like Benetton, Bon Marche, Mango, Matalan, and Primark. More than 1000 workers lost their lives and over 2500 were injured, and yet, more than five years later, working conditions for people in garment factories are still appalling, with low wages and sub-standard health and safety precautions in place.
The week aims to highlight the inequalities and damage caused by the fast fashion industry, as well as showing people how they can help. It’s run by Fashion Revolution, a global, year-around movement whose mission is to “work together towards radically changing the way our clothes are sourced, produced and consumed, so that our clothing is made in a safe, clean and fair way“.
They prefer to encourage change and find solutions, rather than shaming consumers and brands, and don’t believe in making people feel guilty.
Where I’m at with fast fashion
I’ve mostly phased fast fashion out of my wardrobe—new fast fashion, that is. I own a fair few pieces from stores like New Look and H&M that I’ve had for couple of years, and they’re in good enough condition for me to keep them, despite being so well-loved.
But I don’t really shop on the high street anymore. I went through a phase of shopping constantly when I was at university, partly because I was away from my hometown and experimenting more, but mostly because it was the first time I’d had money to spend on clothes. (Bless you, student loan.)
However, reading about damaging practices within the fashion industry and learning more about environmental impact of unwanted clothing has dulled the shine of fast fashion. I’d rather buy fewer, ethically-made pieces now I’m able to. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect—I haven’t quite cut out fast fashion completely—but the intention is there. I’ve got it sorted when it comes to basics (Thought Clothing make the best sustainable socks and I love People Tree‘s sales). Other categories, such as affordable swimwear and a winter coat, are proving more tricky.
My next aim is for secondhand pieces to be my first port of call, whether they’re charity shop buys or from vintage sellers. I bought my summer hat, pictured below, from a local charity shop last year, and I hoped to thrift an outfit for my cousin’s wedding. (That didn’t go to plan and I ended up panic-buying a jumpsuit from ASOS—it’s a work in progress.)
The best reads from Fashion Revolution Week 2019
Who Made Your Clothes? by Chloe Abigail
Chloe talks about the background of Fashion Revolution Week, and urges us to find out who made our clothes, shop less, and shop better:
“Many workers who make clothes for some of the world’s biggest brands live and work in poverty, and are unable to afford the basic necessities they need to live.
“In addition, the fashion industry is also contributing to another major problem: the environment. Did you know… the textiles industry is the second-biggest polluting industry after oil? The total greenhouse gas emissions from textile production currently stands at 1.2 billion tonnes annually.”
Another Fashion Revolution Week is Over… Now What? by Simply Liv & Co
Fashion Revolution Week brings attention to a worthy cause, but our efforts shouldn’t stop once it’s over. Olivia identifies some of the ways you can make a difference:
“One thing I’ve learned over the past three or four years of communicating with brands is that you should never be scared to press for more information. If a brand you love isn’t transparent about their sourcing, fabrics, or factory conditions… don’t be afraid to email. Reach out to customer service via email—it’s much less intimidating than a phone call—and ask for more information on their sustainability and ethics practice. If they send over a generic code of conduct policy lacking in specifics, don’t be afraid to to see through it and ask for clarification.”
Affordable Ethical Fashion Under £50 by A Considered Life
One of the most significant factors that puts people off buying from ethical brands is the price. Sophie made a handy list of brands which have relatively less expensive options, including The White T-Shirt Company (who make the softest basic tees in existence and send them to you in recyclable, plastic-free packaging):
“When it comes to switching from fast fashion to slow fashion, the biggest obstacle standing in the way is price. Sustainably made clothing is often seemingly more expensive because unethical brands are cutting corners, abusing workers, and mistreating the planet in order to slash prices. In comparison, the price tags of ethical fashion brands can have you wincing. The reality is, when you ‘get a good deal’ on cheap clothes someone else is paying the price for it…
“For the majority of us, it’s not affordable to buy ethical fashion in the way we buy fast fashion. Instead, we have to adjust our shopping habits; buy fewer, higher quality pieces made responsibly and sustainably from ethical brands.”
Have you been following Fashion Revolution Week? Have you started changing your shopping habits? And would you be interested in more content like this? Let me know in the comments.
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Beth, 26, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travelling, and gin.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!