Sustainability is a word used for practices that are, or aim to have no negative impact on the world's resources, hence being able to sustain for a long time. Sustainability in fashion concerns a wide variety of issues that spans from the the use of natural resources starting from the very beginning in the production of materials; to the sustainability of human resources through maintaining a decent living standard for garment workers.
Sustainability of natural resources in fashion starts from the very production of cotton; cotton farming not only uses an immense amount of water; but it uses 22.5% of the world's overall consumption of insecticides, and 10% of all pesticides; therefore is very toxic for the environment. Another toxic aspect of textile production comes from dyes; the dyes used in fashion can contaminate water; even seep into the soil to turn groundwater toxic, having a very long term effect on production areas. CO2 emissions are another aspect of pollution that fashion contributes to; our clothes account for about 3% of the world's CO2 emission, and it is not only the production of textiles that is responsible for this: it is also how the consumers use, take care of, and dispose of their garments. Only about 20% of tens of millions of garments purchased every year are recycled, the rest to end up in a landfill producing methane; a harmful greenhouse gas.(1) Overall; the garment industry is the second industry to cause most harm in the world, coming in second only to the oil industry.
The problems in sustainability in fashion industry doesn't only mean natural resources; but sustainability of human resources as well. Labor is a huge part of production, and due to a constant demand for cheaper-faster-more clothing, labor conditions in the textile industry are in rapid decline. Production moves to poorer and poorer countries where there is always someone desperate enough to pick up work without a living wage and basic safety conditions, often referred to as a form of modern slavery.
On 24 April 2013, this lack of interest in the human life involved in fashion production took a very visible toll when the Rana Plaza building containing five clothing manufacturing factories, collapsed to the ground taking the lives of 1,333 people and injuring 2500, most of which were women workers. The obvious safety concerns in the building had been pointed out by workers in the factories many times, yet no action had been taken to remedy the situation. (2)
The organization Fashion Revolution was born out of the pain of this event. A group of fashion professionals felt that they couldn't stand being in this industry if it meant perpetuating these mechanisms that were harming other people and our planet. So the anniversary of what has come to be known as “the Rana Plaza Disaster”, April 24th, became “Fashion Revolution Day”. Born out of a tragedy, Fashion Revolution celebrates the possibility of fashion as a positive force in the world and promotes individual impact.
The movement aims to demand a change from the industry by elevating consumer awareness. It does so by asking “Who made my clothes?” through social media and hashtags. The organization's initial social media campaign entailed wearing clothes inside out, showing their tags and asking brands about their production using the hashtag #whomademyclothes while taggng their accounts on social media. A lot of brands and producers have engaged with the campaign ever since, and it has evolved rapidly every year to now contain the hashtag #imadeyourclothes and a lot of side trails like #imadeyouraccesories or even #imadeMYclothes, as DIY is one of the many ways to alter the existing paradigm.
Fashion Revolution today has volunteer representatives and is active in over 90 countries, Turkey being one. The organization believes that fashion can be a positive force in the world, Turkey being among them. We operate from a place of love, a love for fashion that we all share, and we want to transform this thing that we love into doing good instead of harm.