Fashion: An ongoing Human Rights revolution

by Jade Rhode

After purchasing a garment, did you ever wonder who took the time to make your R300 dress, your R60 scarf or your R500 pair of designer jeans? Is the price of a garment worth the price of innocent lives?

Since its launch in 2013, Fashion Revolution strives to demonstrate transparency in supply chains and encourages us to ask: “Who made my clothes?”. This global movement describes themselves as people from around the globe who wear clothes, make clothes and make the fashion industry work. They are primarily funded by private foundations, institutional grants, commercial organisations and donations. Their mission is to unite people and organisations all around the world.

Source - @fash_rev (Instagram)

The goal: for clothes to be manufactured in a safe, clean and just environment.

Every year, around the last week of April, people all over the world partake in what is known as Fashion Revolution Week. In 2013, an overcrowded factory building known as Rana Plaza in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1134 hardworking factory workers and injuring many more. A total of five garment factories were situated in the building, all of them manufacturing clothing for top brands.

During this week of commemoration, Fashion Revolution encourages brands to say #imadeyourclothes to show transparency in their supply chain. When buying a garment, it is not enough to simply ask the employees if they know who made the clothes or to check the label to see which country it was made. For Fashion Revolution – who has over 90 countries supporting its cause – it is important to know who made your clothes as well as the factory in which they were made.

We need to praise the person who took the time and energy to produce the garment.

It is impossible for us to make sure human rights are respected and that environmental practices are sound without knowing where our products are made, who is making them and under what conditions. This is what we are asking brands and retailers to publicly disclose”, says the global fashion movement.

They continued to say, “We believe that more transparency will lead to greater accountability, which eventually will lead to a change in the way business is done. It is an important first step towards positive change.”

Many of the people who manufacture our clothing live in poverty, are exploited, work in harsh environments, are not paid enough, and are subjected to physical and emotional abuse.

What can we do to help? Here’s the answer: raise awareness for the cause.

Use your voice and power to make a positive change. Prevent another Rana Plaza incident from happening by using the hashtag #whomademyclothes and tag the brands on social media. This year, Fashion Revolution Week will run from 20-26 April. During this week and even throughout the whole year, wear your clothes inside out for your labels to be seen. By showing your tags, you are showing your support and acknowledging those who made your clothes.

If you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, do it in the comfort of your own home and use the hashtag.

Another option is to host clothes swapping events. Instead of purchasing new and expensive garments, try finding clothes that you no longer wear and bring them to the event. Not only are you saving rands but you are helping the environment as well.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the movement asks that all participants of Fashion Revolution Week follow the advice of their government health guidelines and comply with the restrictions to public events and venues. For more information on Fashion Revolution, visit or follow their Instagram account @fash_rev or the South African Instagram account @fash_rev_southafrica.

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