Fashion Revolution Week highlights the importance of ethical fashion in response to the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh in which over 1000 garment workers died.
Kate Osbourne, spokesperson for Po Zu footwear and organiser of London Sustainable Fashion Rooms, told Eastlondonlines: “Five years on from the Rana Plaza tragedy, retrospect shows us that the pace of change is slow and the impact we are having on our planet is drastically swinging out of control. A disaster on the scale of Rana Plaza must never happen again. We only have one planet, and we are burning through it at a rate of no return.
“It is more important than ever for footwear and fashion to work together to create radical positive change. Whilst we have seen major developments in the fashion industry and awareness raised in recent years, footwear still remains fashion’s darker sister in terms of the toxic chemicals used and hazardous worker conditions. It was important for us to highlight this. People are waking up to the fact that fashion can be fair.”
The 2013 tragedy involved the collapse of a five-storey building containing several garment factories, shops and apartments. A total of 1,134 people were killed and 2,500 seriously injured, many of which were working for large global fashion brands such as Primark.
The Rana Plaza collapse was the largest factory-based disaster in history. It stirred up a debate about workers’ rights and ethical working conditions in third world countries; particularly women’s rights as most of those killed or injured were young women.
Thirty-eight people were charged with murder as they had a role in disobeying infrastructure rules and extended the building two floors above the stated permit making it unsafe to be in.
Zoe Partridge, founder of Wear the Walk clothes rental company has a pop-up shop at the event. Partridge told Eastlondonlines: “Unsustainable fashion is the second most damaging polluter in the world, we have to start to be conscious with our fashion habits.
“Wear the Walk is about accessing multiple designers at one time that have the same ethical ethos. Fast fashion can be very damaging.”
Fashion Revolution have published a manifesto calling for change in the industry. It reads: “We don’t want our clothes to exploit people or destroy our planet. We demand radical, revolutionary change.”
Members of the public and the fashion industry have been getting involved by using the #whomademyclothes hashtag, creating a dialogue surrounding the importance of making clothes that are moral and ethical.
Since the tragedy, the modern-day slavery act has been passed, forcing factories in developing countries to comply with building regulations and create an ethical workplace environment. Although this legislation helps to prevent disasters like Rana Plaza from reoccurring there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure the further safety of factory workers.
Lola Young, Baroness of Hornsey, Cross Bench Peer and ethical fashion advocate, said: “There is something more to fashion than GDP. We must put pressure on the government to realise the problems in the legislation. We need to trust these brands however long their supply chains are.
“We haven’t gone far enough, we will work with what we’ve got but we need to do a lot more.”
The London Sustainable Fashion Rooms event at the Old Truman Brewery will be running until April 29 and is free to attend.
Popular brands such as Po Zu, leaders in vegan fair-trade fashion and People Tree vintage have collaborated on the event, by selling garments during the week.
To register for online tickets go to eventbrite.co.uk.