Fashion Revolution Week has finally arrived, and to celebrate it we have interviewed designer Carry Somers, who co-founded the movement Fashion Revolution together with Orsola de Castro. This global initiative was born when, on 24 April 2013, 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza building collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Most of these people were garment workers.
When did you realise there was an urgent need for a change to start taking place within the fashion industry?
Sadly, Rana Plaza was inevitable. There are ever longer supply chains, and a resulting shift in responsibility. However, this was a tragedy that could have taken place in any fast fashion producing country. Rana Plaza happens to be in Bangladesh. What happened reflects a global trend of increased ‘demand’ which feeds the fast fashion supply chain. There have been many improvements in the fashion supply chain since the dust has settled on the Rana Plaza disaster, although it is unfortunate that it has taken a tragedy of this scale to start to bring about change.
What are the main challenges the industry is still facing in these countries?
The Bangladesh Accord is a significant milestone towards better working conditions in Bangladesh, and hopefully throughout the industry. However, as we have heard through numerous recent reports in the media, 90% of the structural, electrical and fire-safety improvement plans are behind schedule. 13% of suppliers still haven’t removed locks from doors which could be used as fire exits.
What will really keep factories compliant is when all workers have a voice and they can speak out when something is wrong. Fashion Revolution has been working closely with IndustriALL Global Union and the Solidarity Centre to highlight the role of trade unions in bringing change to the industry.
What are the concrete goals of the Fashion Revolution movement?
Fashion Revolution’s is working to re-connect the supply chain, showing the faces and giving a voice to the makers of our clothes, highlighting their stories, and showing where change still needs to happen.
The global fashion industry is opaque, exploitative and environmentally damaging and desperately needs revolutionary change. Fashion Revolution wants to ignite a revolution to radically change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased. We believe transparency is the first step to transform the industry, and it starts with one simple question: who made my clothes?
We no longer know who makes our clothes and we don’t know the true cost of the things we buy. The fashion supply chain is fractured and the producers have become faceless. This is costing lives. We believe that rebuilding the broken links across the whole supply chain, from farmer to consumer, is the only way to transform the entire industry. Fashion Revolution brings everyone together to make that happen.