Fashion Revolution Week: Our 5 take-aways

Congratulations to Fashion Revolution on another successful Fashion Revolution Week! The week kicked off with a thought provoking Fashion Question Time that focused on Rights, Relationships and Revolution. Particularly the link between climate and racial injustice. Thanks to everyone for commenting on our social media posts and joining our mend-a-longs. This is what we learnt…

1. Environmental and human rights need to be top of the agenda for business

Respecting nature and the rights of workers should be a moral obligation, it is also the only way that industry can continue to be viable into the future. There is a necessity to work with nature to create new methods of production, to build workplaces that are safe for and respectful of their workers and to strive towards a circular economy.

2. What’s in my clothes?

A shocking number of chemicals are used in our clothing, with around 800 of them known to interfere with hormones in both males and females. Since 1996 the EU has recognised these chemicals as hazards but she again highlighted how the interconnectedness of government and business meant it had been hard to get them banned. We asked Playtex and M&S #whomademyclothes and #whatsinmyclothes ? Playtex sent us a link to their sustainability credentials. We followed up asking why it is difficult to find this information on their e-commerce sites and why they haven’t taken part in the Fashion Revolution transparency index.

3. We have consumer power

Earlier this week there was news of a football EU super league, which the fans protested against. Within 24 hours of the pressure from the fans the league and government threatening with legislation all 6 UK clubs pulled out. The league can’t make a profit if nobody watches and the TV companies don’t pay for the rights. Just think how we could change the fashion industry if we stopped buying clothes from brands that don’t pay their garment workers a fair wage. If we stopped buying clothes made from chemicals and fibres that damage the Earth, the brands would have to adapt their sourcing policies to appeal to the consumers.

‘…if people are willing it could happen tomorrow, or it could be years and years…nothing is impossible.’

Nazma Akter , Fashion Question Time

4. Legislation is key to genuine change

Preventing Fashion’s negative effects on the Earth clearly isn’t as top of the UK Government’s agenda as football is. The UK Government rejected 2019 Fixing Fashion’s report by the Environmental Audit Committee which could have brought in some legislation against the negative effects of Fashion on the earth. Governments and businesses need to start putting the planet and people before profit. Governments need to shift subsidies from supporting damaging industries to fund those that are sustainable and ethical and to put legislation in place to give workers, consumers and citizens a voice

5. Consume less + mend more!

‘If we consume less it automatically reduces the number of plastics and chemicals in our clothes.’ Baroness Bennet of Manor Castle, Green Party. Before buying new clothes, consider what we already have in our wardrobes. Why hasn’t an item of clothing been worn for a while? Can it be repaired or altered into something you will wear? Or re-sell it on one of the many resell apps available for someone else to love. Follow one of our videos teaching how to mend clothes or join one of our workshops.

About Fashion Revolution Week: This is the eighth year in which the charity ask us to challenge our favourite fashion brands with the question #whomademyclothes? Fashion Revolution was established in 2013 a year after the Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1138 garment workers in Bangladesh. Since then charity have been campaigning globally against the human and environmental consequences of the fashion industry. Encouraging brands to change their practices to a more transparent and circular model.

Who made my clothes?

At Fast Fashion Therapy we teach and encourage people to mend their clothes and buy second hand as a sustainable alternative to buying new products. We live by our values and rarely buy anything new. So when it comes to asking our favourite brands who made my clothes, we struggle. One item of clothing that is trickier to buy second hand is underwear and have bought new products within the last 12 months. We tasked the brands we bought from to encourage transparency within their supply chain. Of course, it doesn’t matter how old your garment is or whether it is second hand, it is still relevant to ask the brand #whomademyclothes? For the purposes of this blog it was easier to use a new item of clothing so the brand could track it’s supply chain. Here is how we got on:

Online information

What can you find out from the brand’s website? Don’t just look at the product pages and the brand’s advertising campaigns. Drop down to the bottom of the page and check out their corporate information. I chose a pair of knickers from Playtex’s current range and found out:

  • My underwear is 90% Polymide and 10% Elastane. Polymide is a form of Polyester, it is plastic and damaging to the planet. Could Playtex source a recycle form of Polyester? Elastane is a form of elastic – is it from a natural sustainable source or derived from petrol-chemicals like Polyester?
  • The label says the underwear was made in the Philippines, do Playtex own the factory? Do they run regular audits to ensure there is no modern slavery, that their workers are paid fairly and work in a safe environment?
  • The website shares information about the history of the brand, legal notices referring to the online sale, intellectual property etc. but nothing about where the underwear is made or a modern slavery statement
  • I typed into Google ‘who owns Playtex?’ The result is Hanes. There is even less information on their e-commerce site. I searched again using the term ‘Hanesbrands inc’. This brought up the information I was looking for. If this doesn’t work for your brand, try searching ‘*brand name* corporate fact sheet’ or ‘*brand name* newsroom’. If the company is a public company (listed on a stock exchange) they will publicly share information to advertise to investors.

HanesBrands is a socially responsible leading marketer of everyday basic apparel in the Americas, Europe, Australia and Asia-Pacific. Unlike most apparel companies, HanesBrands owns the majority of its worldwide manufacturing facilities, producing approximately 80 percent of the apparel it sells. HanesBrands takes pride in its strong reputation for ethical business practices. The company is the only apparel producer to ever be honored for its workplace practices in Central America and the Caribbean by the Great Place to Work Institute and has been named Forbes Best Large Employer. The company is an 11-time honoree of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star.

www.HBISustains.com.
  • This information is useful as if they own 80% of their factories*, they should easily be able to answer ‘who made my clothes?’ (*this information varies from 70 to 90% depending on which page of their website I was on.)
  • A SKU number is a code brands give to individual styles of clothing so they are trackable on their systems. Larger brands print the SKU number on their care labels, sometimes with a barcode. Include this information in your email to the brand.

Transparency

The fashion industry is traditionally secretive about it’s supply chain, not wanting their competitors to know where their products are made. Fashion Revolution have been promoting the transparency of supply chains for the past 6 years. Each year they publish the Fashion Transparency Index, a review of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers and ranked them according to how much they disclose about their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts.

Transparency isn’t about which brand does the best, but about who discloses the most information. Transparency does not equal sustainability. Brands may be disclosing a lot of information about their policies and practices but this doesn’t mean they are acting in a sustainable or ethical manner. We know that the pursuit of endless growth is in itself unsustainable. However, without transparency we cannot see or protect vulnerable people and the living planet.

https://www.fashionrevolution.org/about/transparency/

Hanes Brands Inc have a dedicated sustainability website – so why haven’t they included this on their ecommerce sites? Why have they not taken part in Fashion Revolution’s transparency index? These are questions I shall be asking the brand.

Contact Information

Similar to the above search, finding contact information might also need a bit of investigating. The European Director of Corporate Social Responsibility is listed on the Hanes Sustainability site with his email address. If you are unable to find an email address try one of the following:

  • Tweet your comments and include the brand’s twitter handle, make the tweet public and they are more likely to respond
  • Post a photo of your item, tag the brand and include the hashtag #whomademyclothes?
  • Call the customer service number and ask for information
  • Contact the PR office or agency that represent the brand
  • Email the CEO : The brand’s CEO’s name will be publicly available. Write them a letter at the brand’s head office address. Or try and work out what their email address will be. I’ve worked for a fashion brand’s CEO as their PA. We often received emails from customers and always took the time to reply.

My email to Hanes Brands Inc

Let us know how you get on contacting your favourite brands, good luck!

Monday is the start of Fashion Revolution Week. The seventh year in which the charity ask us to challenge our favourite fashion brands with the question #whomademyclothes? Fashion Revolution was established in 2013 a year after the Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1138 garment workers in Bangladesh. Since then charity have been campaigning globally against the human and environmental consequences of the fashion industry. Encouraging brands to change their practices to a more transparent and circular model.

What’s in my clothes?

Cotton

Polyester

Viscose

Chemicals

Fashion Revolution Week

Fashion Revolution influenced us to teach and encourage others to mend their clothes. If you haven’t heard of the movement before, they were founded in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 and have become the world’s largest fashion activism movement, challenging the consumers, policymakers and fashion brands through education. Fashion Revolution week co-insides with the anniversary of the disaster. It is an opportunity to ask our favourite brands #whomademyclothes? and help us to refresh the values that we adhere to all year, mending clothes rather than always buying new.


The fibres our clothes are made of have a huge impact on the Earth. From the natural resources required to grow fibres such as cotton and viscose. To the waste left over from turning it into yarn and fabric. We will cover some of the most popular fibres and what is involved in their production. Plus there effect on our Earth. We investigated Cotton, Polyester, Viscose and Chemicals.

We tasked the brands we bought from to encourage transparency within their supply chain. Of course, it doesn’t matter how old your garment is or whether it is second hand, it is still relevant to ask the brand #whomademyclothes? . Read our top tips on how to approach your favourite brand.

Just over one year on from the start of the first lockdown in the U.K. and during Fashion Revolution Week, we wanted to reflect on how these changes have affected those working in the fashion industry. Many saw the first lockdown as an opportunity for the fashion industry to hit pause and come out the other side of it more sustainable, but are we actually any closer to this?  Find out more here.

Fashion Question Time has become a key part of the Fashion Revolution Week calendar over the last few years and acts as an essential platform in bringing together activists, legislators and business owners, allowing the general public to ask them questions and hearing their ideas from inside the industry. Read our full summary here.


Diary Dates

There are lots of ways to get involved in Fashion Revolution Week, including mending your clothes of course! Here are some of the events that we are planning…

Mend-a-long

Monday 19th April, 7:30 to 8:30pm (Via Zoom)

Bring along one or two items of clothing and a basic sewing kit. Join in the chat whilst we collectively mend our clothes. Feel free to ask us any clothes mending questions or how you can get involved in Fashion Revolution Week – sign up to our newsletter for joining details

Thursday 22nd April, 7:30 to 8:30pm (Instagram Live)

We thought we would try and Instagram live session – ask us any clothes mending conundrums or tips on how to get involved in Fashion Revolution Week @fastfashiontherapy

Saturday 24th April, 5:30pm

We are teaming up with the Remakery again to bring you a clothes-mend-a-long session. Book your place via Eventbrite.


If you are interested in learning more about the fashion industry, it’s complex supply chains and how it can improve it’s carbon footprint – we recommend registering for Fashion Question Time. It is a powerful platform to debate the future of the fashion industry. The panel is chaired by Baroness Lola Young, co-chair and cross-bench peer for the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group: Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion. Book via Eventbrite (hosted via Zoom). We also recommend this BBC Radio 4 programme by Patrick Grant that offers a good explanation of fashion industry supply chains.