Writing the revolution

Fashion Revolution is on the search for writers. Laura Hunter chats to Heather Knight, Fashion Revolution’s Head of Communications, about the campaign that’s reached an incredible 150 million people. And how language and creativity can change behaviours and, potentially, an entire industry.

 

What is Fashion Revolution and how did it start?

Fashion Revolution is the largest fashion activism movement in the world powered by volunteers in almost 100 countries.

On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. There were five garment factories in that building all manufacturing clothing for big fashion brands. 1,138 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history.

That’s when Fashion Revolution was born. We want a fairer, cleaner, more transparent fashion industry, one that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure.

 

So, what exactly do you ask people to do?

We believe transparency is the first step to transforming the industry, and it starts with one simple question: who made my clothes?

On the anniversary of Rana Plaza, we hold Fashion Revolution Week. Our campaign encourages people to ask brands and retailers #Who made my clothes? This simple action shows brands that people do care about the people behind their clothes.

We also encourage producers and workers to respond with the hashtag #imadeyourclothes allowing them to stand up, be seen and celebrated.

 

What success have you had so far?

A lot of people are getting involved. This year, our fourth year of campaigning, our hashtag was used 133,000 times and we reached 150 million people.

More brands are getting involved as well. Last year over 1,200 brands, including the likes of G Star, Zara and American Apparel, answered the “who made my clothes?” challenge. We also had over 800 events all around the world, from catwalks to clothes-swaps, tutorials, talks and film screenings.

 

How have great writing and creative communications helped you reach so many people?

To get the number of people that we have involved in the campaign, we had to find a better way to talk about the fashion industry’s issues. We had to make it relevant. And aspirational.   Making people feel guilty doesn’t change behaviours. So we use creativity and a pro-fashion language to shift hearts, minds and behaviours. Creativity sits at the heart of what we do, because fashion is creative.

 

You’re ultimately shifting the narrative and getting people to think and act differently about their clothes. How did you go about doing that in your last zine Money, Fashion Power?

It’s difficult to explain complicated issues such as supply chain accountability, living wages or collective bargaining. It’s even harder to make people care and do something about them.

Our first fanzine ‘MONEY FASHION POWER’ was a new, fresh way of communicating to an audience who might not yet have considered who makes their clothes, and what conditions they work in.

Through 72 pages of illustration, poetry, personal stories, photo essays shining a light on garment workers’ lives, practical actions and even a snakes and ladders game, we hoped to empower readers to think differently about clothing and to inspire change in the way people shop.

We had some brilliant artists, writers, poets and illustrators involved, including artist Tyler Spangler, illustrator Alex Jenkins, features director Tamsin Blanchard, plus many more submissions from our global community.

 

What’s the focus of your next zine?

Submissions are now open for the second edition Fashion Revolution zine, launching in October 2017!

The theme for our second issue is ‘Loved Clothes Last’, which will explore the issue of waste in fashion. And we’re looking for writers to give us their interpretations. It could be in the form of a poem that explores the impact of mass production. Or some pro-fashion propaganda in the form of a poster. It could be a love story about your favourite piece of clothing. Or a short story that we could illustrate. Or even a think piece on what the future of fashion waste looks like. Let your imagination go wild!

 

Do you really think can creativity fix the fashion industry?

Creativity has always been at the forefront of change. Creativity is about thinking in new ways, seeing with new perspectives. The best form of creativity comes from collaboration, and if we’re going to change fashion then we need to bring everyone together to help make that happen. Creativity alone can’t fix the fashion industry, but it can help create an irresistible vision for the industry and it can help inspire millions who buy, wear and dispose of fashion.

Get your submissions for Loved Clothes Last in by July 8th. To read the submission guidelines, visit

http://fashionrevolution.org/zine-002-call-for-submissions/


 

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