The 24th April 2015 marks the second annual international campaign for Fashion Revolution Day. The Fashion Revolution team is a global board of industry leaders, press, campaigners and academics from within the sector and beyond, they aim to be the catalyst which brings together the fashion community at large and the entire value chain, to ask questions, to raise standards, to make a difference. Their vision: “We believe in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that this happens.”
I am a member of the board of the South African Fashion Revolution Day team. We aim to ignite a consumer led revolution to radically change the way fashion is made, sourced and purchased. The theme for 2015 is “Who Made My Clothes”. We want consumers to pose this question to their favourite brands and demand answers.
Why a Fashion Revolution?
The tragic collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh on 24 April 2013 was a symptom of the broken links across the fashion and textile industry. A metaphorical call to arms, it has acted as a catalyst for those of us wanting to see change and demanding that the fashion industry takes a leading role in achieving it.
Fashion Revolution Day is an opportunity to celebrate fashion as a positive influence, raise awareness of the fashion industry’s most pressing issues, show that change is possible and celebrate those who are on a journey to create a more ethical and sustainable future for fashion. Together, we will rally the high street, the high end, the innovators, the media, the public, the activists, the makers, the wearers – and everyone in between.
We believe in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that this happens
Below is a piece written by fellow SA Fashion Revolution board member, Cyril Naiker from Cape Town In Vogue. Cyril poses the question to sales staff in Cape Town, “who made my clothes?” and documents his continuous search for “made in SA”.
South Africa – The Next Global Trend Frontier
My most favourite thing about Cape Town is the ease and access we have in this beautiful city to great shopping stores. Either in the hustle and bustle of Long Street or at the ever developing V&A Waterfront, which is where I ventured this past Saturday in search of the perfect blazer. Not just any blazer, I have seen a particular one that has taken my fancy but more than just the look, it ticks all the right boxes for me. The main one being made in South Africa.
I walk into this store and at first glance I do not find my blazer. A sales assistant locates the blazer but my size is sold. I turn down her offer to find me one at another store as I’m in the need for instant gratification – I want to buy something today!
I walk to three different stores and not one of them has a decent blazer, either in look, fabrication or simply just in how it’s made and certainly none of the ones I looked at were made in South Africa. Not even in Africa! I find the search of the perfect blazer exhausting and I begin to rethink my need. I’m now willing to settle for a shirt and I reason with myself that I will do just that. I watch other shoppers glance at price then decide if the garment is the right size for them and none one of them looks at the care label to see where that garment is made. I find myself wanting a megaphone, some form of loudspeaker to inform shoppers that they must look at where garments are made. Do they even know that this information is printed on the care labels?
As I look for the care label on a particular blazer at a different store, I am greeted by a salesman. He finds my search for a care label peculiar and I ask him if he knows where this blazer is made? He is very confused and asks me if it really matters? He then tells me he doubts anything in their store is locally made. I begin to speak to him about Fashion Revolution Day and what we have planned for Cape Town. I inform him about this international campaign to raise awareness and encourage a more sustainable fashion movement which shows traceability within the fashion industry chain. I use this opportunity to inform him of this year’s campaign focusing on consumer awareness with the campaign slogan #whomademyclothes. Promoting local fashion is a starting point and I speak about the power in our purchases and that we have the opportunity to make a difference. I can tell that this is the first time he has even thought about this and he, like many other shoppers are simply not well informed. For me this mission has become my work mission. I set on this journey four years ago and made a clear decision that I will only buy locally made clothing.
I feel it is my duty to wear locally made clothes. I believe in job creation and believe in the talent we have on this continent. It’s a pity that the search is always a challenge. The dream would be to walk around with shopping-bags laden with made in South Africa clothing. Our Cape Town fashion foray certainly promises hope in the search for locally made garments.
I am sure that the day will come when I will be writing about the increase of made in South Africa garments in stores in every mall in South Africa. There can be nothing sweeter, to me, than home-grown fashion. A reflective spirit of made on the African Continent and all that goes along the fashion value chain of these garments. Buying local is my support in job creation, it is my endorsement of minimum fair wage and certainly my toast in celebrating creativity that exists from the streets of the township, to the urban grit of the big cities. Welcome, this is South Africa – the next global trend frontier.
Do you know who made your clothes? Do you think about it? Do you care?
Be Curious. Find Out. Do Something. Follow the hashtag #FashRev on social media to follow the discussion in the lead up to 24 April 2015. To see what’s happening in South Africa, follow the updates on our Facebook page.