Would you consider yourself a revolutionary?! If you’re an everyday mom like me, probably not. The most revolutionary thing I do on an ordinary day might be to sit in a different spot at the dinner table, or to pack white cheddar Cheez Its instead of original – SHOCKING, I know. Yet, there are times when moms are called to “revolt.” When we stick up for our kids and communities, for our girlfriends and sisters and our beliefs, we step out of our comfort zones and rise to the challenge. Moms, it is time for us to be revolutionary in an area that affects us all profoundly, though you might not even be aware of it :: fashion.
Think about it :: every single day, every single member of your family gets up and gets dressed. We have clothes for play, clothes for school and work, clothes for fancy occasions, and clothes for sleeping. Unless you’re going around naked, you’re a part of the fashion industry, fashionista or not. As moms, we educate ourselves about issues that affect our families. We learn how to advocate for their health care, how to prepare healthy food, how to stay safe around water, how to protect them against abuse, how to take care of the environment – the list could go on forever! I hope today to share how the fashion industry affects you and your family and what you can do about it.
Fashion Revolution Week
Most moms are aware that April 22nd is Earth Day, an annual international event. But did you know that April 24th is Fashion Revolution Day, also an annual international event? Fashion Revolution Day was founded after the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed on April 24, 2013, killing 1138 garment workers and injuring thousands more. The victims were mostly young women who were working in slavery conditions to make clothing for big global brands. Fashion Revolution Day has since expanded into Fashion Revolution Week, April 23rd to 29th, when designers, manufacturers, marketers, retailers, workers, fashionistas and everyday citizens like you and me take time to ask #whomademyclothes and demand transparency in the global garment industry.
What is “Fast Fashion?”
Back when I was a kid, I got new clothes once a year at the beginning of the school year. As a teen, I read the fashion mags and loved the Fall and Spring editions when designers revealed their biannual lines. Now, there are new clothing lines every single day. Clothing is produced fast and consumed fast, treated like something to be used up rather than used and reused. Now, you can walk into grocery stores and get a new t-shirt for the price of a box of cereal. Sure, the quality might be poor, but who cares!? You can always get another one tomorrow. Except, if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t, and if something is too cheap to make sense, it probably means somewhere someone is paying the cost you aren’t.
In truth, Fast Fashion has a catastrophic effect on both people and the environment. The global garment industry is the second most polluting industry next to oil and gas. Brands like H&M, Zara, Forever 21, Children’s Place, Joe Fresh, Old Navy, Gap, etc. are all implicated. Some have taken steps in the right direction towards transparency and sustainability, but as long as everyday moms and citizens accept the status quo, real change won’t happen.
What can you do?
Firstly, learn more. You can head on over to The Spirited Thrifter for a couple of posts with links to good resources. Watch The True Cost documentary on Netflix, follow Fashion Revolution and other #socialmediaforgood accounts like Livia Firth and Emma Watson.
Secondly, start asking, Who made my clothes?
And by that, I don’t mean, what is the label? I mean, the tag says “Made in ____” BY WHOM?! Are there ethical working conditions, fair wages, and safety standards throughout the process?
Who made my kids’ clothes?
Wear your clothes inside out to show your labels and demand a response!
If you can’t go on a company’s website and find a statement on the ethics of their production within five minutes, chances are, they aren’t ethical. The ethical, sustainable brands shout it from the rooftops! You can download your own “Who made my clothes?” print and then snap a selfie and post it during Fashion Revolution Week April 23rd to 29th. You can also get involved in Fashion Revolution Week events happening in your community.
Thirdly, exercise your consumer power. Every time you purchase a garment, you have the opportunity to be revolutionary. You might buy ethical, sustainable brands which are becoming more and more affordable. You might choose to shop secondhand for almost everything, like I do. You might buy less and buy higher quality so your clothes last longer. You might support local designers and artists rather than getting clothes at the grocery store. You might participate in a clothing swap or borrow pieces from a friend for special occasions instead of buying new. You might repair your clothes rather than throwing them away. You might think twice before you “like” posts featuring fast fashion brands to send the message that money isn’t the bottom line.
There’s only one thing NOT to do and that is to be inert, to keep doing what you’ve always done, or to be guilted into inaction. It’s about #progressoverperfection. Every little step in the right direction joins with all the other moms and their families taking one little step to create a… revolution.
I am not an expert in fast fashion or sustainable fashion; I am just an everyday mom who wants to ensure that the cute clothes my kids wear were not made by cute kids living in slavery; that my $7 t-shirt wasn’t forged from human misery and maltreatment. Revolutionaries like you and me care more about people than money, and we are raising the generation that will change things for the better.