It is Fashion Revolution Week this week; a global event that marks the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh, in which 1138 people died and thousands more were injured. Since this devastating event in 2013, Fashion Revolution have created a global movement, calling upon us in our millions to ask brands #WhoMadeMyClothes.
To spread the tremendous work they are doing in helping to bring about a vital change in how "our clothes are sourced, produced and consumed, so that our clothing is made in a safe, clean and fair way" * we are delighted to feature Bronwyn Seier, Content Manager at Fashion Revolution. Bronwyn shares her personal journey to date, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the garment workers and the positive differences we can all make whilst at home.
Can you please tell us about your background and what inspired you to get involved with Fashion Revolution? I started my career in fashion design, studying womenswear. As I learned to make clothes, I realised how much time and labour goes into well made clothes, which left me deeply uncomfortable with the low prices of clothing today. I moved to London in 2017 to study a master's in fashion and sustainability. Along the way, I focused my research on how Instagram and digital marketing is driving our insatiable appetite for clothes. At the end of my course, I started working for Fashion Revolution, where I manage our social media and share our campaign with citizens around the world. Since your time at Fashion Revolution, what changes have taken place within the fashion industry? The industry is changing quickly. When I signed up for my master's course it was one of only a few I could find around the world that married fashion with sustainability. Only a few years later those courses are popping up all over the place! At Fashion Revolution, it's our role to push the industry to change, as much as possible and as quickly as possible. We want to help ensure that brands aren't just implementing bare-minimum environmental targets to send a juicy press release, but want to create long lasting positive change. And - this is the hard part - we want to ensure that brands end the pursuit of endless profit and growth. Though we're seeing more and more brands hire sustainability roles, publish annual CSR reports and launch eco lines, we won't meet global climate targets, eradicate modern slavery, or end gender inequality unless corporations truly revisit how they measure their success.
Although we should be asking #WhoMadeMyClothes all year round, why is Fashion Revolution week such an important and necessary event in the fashion calendar? Fashion Revolution Week marks the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse which took place on April 24th, 2013. This was our call to arms and the very tragedy that spurred our founders into action. They wanted to ensure that no one died for fashion, and today this fight is still so relevant, given the garment factory tragedies that took place last year alone, and the suffering and poverty that will be experienced by those in the supply chain due to the current pandemic. With the launch of your Digital Activism guide that offers people ways they can practice fashion activism online and at home, what ways are you personally going to get involved? We are really well placed because our movement began as a social media campaign and it has always harnessed digital tools as a medium for activism. So now that we are all staying at home, we created this guide to compile the various ways people can take part from their screens. Of course, there's also many offline ways to get involved at home, from taking an inventory of your wardrobe to making and mending. I've been in the thick of Fashion Revolution Week planning for a while, but I'll certainly be returning to my mending pile once the busy-ness is over. Last year I asked Zara #WhoMadeMyClothes? and *shockingly* they didn't reply. Better luck this year, I'm hoping! The Covid-19 crisis has uprooted our lives with unprecedented circumstances, especially effecting the lives of millions of people in the fashion industry. What are your thoughts when it comes to the future of fashion and how we take a clearly devastating situation and turn to into a positive one, one that can nurture and support our people and our planet? At Fashion Revolution, we know that this crisis is affecting absolutely everyone - but we're focusing on sharing its impact on the people who make our clothes because, in many ways, this pandemic has brought to light and worsened the already unfair and exploitative system that is the fashion industry. Unpaid leave for garment workers, brands bullying factories and widespread union busting weren't born from Coronavirus - yet in crisis these issues are amplified. We're sharing ways people can take action on our blog, asking people to donate to organisations that are directly supporting workers and sending our email template asking brands to pay for their orders.
What are your 3 top tips for staying self-motivated whilst self-isolating?
1. I've been having some long work days, so I've been trying to go for a walk to break the hours up, get some air, and call a friend or family at the same time.
2. I think simply recognising the privilege that I have at this time is really important. I am still working. I have a balcony to sit on and soak up the sun. I live in a country with free healthcare. I could go on. But in general I think it's so important to be reminded of these things in uncertain times.
3. Setting 'isolation goals' (which are really just new hobbies) has been a source of motivation. I am attempting to grow tomatoes. My boyfriend is trying to make sourdough bread. Neither of these domestic achievements would have taken place in a normal world.
To read Fashion Revolution's Digital Activism Guide, as guide offering people ways of how they can practice fashion activism online and at home, please click here