Fashion Revolution Weekwas created after the Rana Plaza factory disaster in 2013. The factory home to many big name fast-fashion brands collapsed, killing over 1,100 people and injuring thousands more. In order to create change within the fashion industry, transparency is needed across the board as well as commitment to ethics and sustainability. Fashion Revolution asks you to get involved by sharing a photo/selfie of your favourite clothes asking the brand, #WhoMadeMyClothes?
One of the ways Fashion Revolution is trying to inspire people to care more about their wardrobe’s impact is getting them to write a ‘love story’ to some of the items we own so that we can spend a moment to really appreciate what hangs on all of our hangers or what is tucked away in our drawers…
Dear Metallic Dr Martens,
Honestly, I didn’t spend a single penny on you (the perks of being a blogger), but that doesn’t mean that I don’t value you. You took months to wear in and your laces now need repairing, but you still look as shiny and beautiful as ever.
I don’t know who made you but I would like to find. I’d like to think you’ll last me well as that’s what DMs are meant to do.
One of the saddest words is ‘almost’. I almost didn’t have you in my life. You attract people to you; you’re vibrant and bold and joyful in your yellow hue. So, it’s no surprise that on the day you entered my life you were being pulled in different directions because other people like you so much too!
I was unsure of you at first but I haven’t stopped loving you or wearing you and because you’re so durable and of such a high quality, even though you’ve been loved before, I know that I will continue to do so.
‘Pen to Paper’ is a feature on TDP which involves an informal handwritten form of interview between myself and creatives – from fashion designers, photographers, journalists, artists and musicians, to people who generally inspire me from day-to-day.
Fashion Revolution began after the Rana Plaza factory collapsed on April 24th, 2013, in order to push brands and open up the conversation about the real issues within the fast-fashion industry. Fashion Revolution helps consumers understand what is going on behind the label, inspiring them to create change and ask questions.
Heather Knight heads up the branding and communications for Fashion Revolution. She makes sure everything looks good and sounds great, from Fashion Revolution campaign materials, fanzines and reports, to website, social media and newsletters. She believes in the power of creativity to make an idea irresistible, and the ability of communications to inspire real change.
If you’ve been reading my blog for long enough then you would have read the words ‘Fashion Revolution’ a hundred times over by now. It’s one of the most influential campaigns regarding the fashion industry and I couldn’t be more honoured to be connected to the team in some way. They’re all truly passionate about the work they do and supporting them is one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever had to make.
With Fashion Revolution Week just around the corner (April 24th – April 30th), I thought it would be a great way to start my Pen to Paper series back up and get some direct answers from Heather Knight, who heads up branding and communications.
Even in the past 4 years since Fashion Revolution began, we’ve seen a real shift… both in brands becoming more transparent and in consumers expecting and demanding transparency. There’s still a long journey ahead → We want a radical change in the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased, but there’s momentum to change.
What has it been like to watch the fashion industry change over the years?
We shouldn’t shy away from presenting the shocking, grim realities, but they should be accompanied with inspiration and action. Making people feel guilty isn’t going to change behaviours – that’s been proven not to work. Showing that ethical fashion can look good and feel good and can make your wallet (and the planet) happy is a great way to shift hearts, minds + behaviours.
Do you believe we should focus on the more positive sides of ethical fashion or do you believe talking about the harsh truths is more important?
I personally believe this is one of the reasons Fashion Revolution has been such a powerful initiative. It has opened my eyes to many of the tragedies over the past few years but it has also made me see things in a new light and made me really champion those who are behind our clothes. It’s quite incredible to think that transparency is becoming more important, showing proof that we can get the results we as consumers are now asking for.
Buying from ethical brands is an option off their radar – there are misconceptions that ethical fashion is expensive, dull and ‘unfashionable’, but there are some amazing and affordable brands out there. But buying new clothes should be a last resort – there are so many better ways to update your wardrobe, from charity shopping, vintage, swapping or the clothes you already own! ↳ www.fashionrevolution.org/haulternative
What do you think stops the everyday shopper from purchasing from ethical brands?
Last year we had 1,251 brands/retailers respond with #IMadeYourClothes, and over 370 were major global brands. It was great to see G-STAR RAW respond with an interactive map and stories of their producers. American Apparel produced a video, and Marimekko dedicated part of their website to sharing stories about their producers.
With #whomademyclothes, what brands have had the best responses overall?
We want to see even more people participating, asking #WhoMadeMyClothes and more brands than ever replying with #IMadeYourClothes and demonstrating transparency in their supply chain. We want a BIGGER LOUDER Fashion Revolution that reaches more people in more countries around the world, inspiring people to think differently about the clothes they buy and wear.
What are your goals for Fashion Revolution in 2017? What can we all do to support it?
Thank you so much to Heather for answering some questions, especially when we’re just 20 days away from the big week of pushing for change. Make sure to get involved as much as you can and follow Fashion Revolution throughout the year too. I know I will!
For those of you know aren’t familiar with the term ‘haul video’, here’s a brief description. A haul on YouTube is a video showcasing someone’s recently purchased items. They’re hugely successful especially when it comes to fashion, with some videos receiving views in the millions. The problematic side of this comes down to the frequency of uploads and the vast amount of people being influenced by them; it’s the opposite of celebrating conscious consuming.
I don’t want this to be a negative, guilt-inducing article because I too, at one point, was an avid haul-watching-aholic. In fact, I used to upload haul videos myself back when I was somewhat active on YouTube (meaning I am part of the 21,500,000 videos on YouTube including the word ‘haul’ in the title). I’m not here to tell you to stop watching them or to stop making them, in fact, I’m going to avoid that completely; hence the title. But, just to continue on from my introduction, I will expand on why it doesn’t match up with what I believe should be more beneficial to us.
Haul videos promote consumption, and that’s just a fact nobody can avoid. The reason for haul videos isn’t just to spread the love of what we own, it’s to spread the love of what we own for somebody else to then enjoy by purchasing it themselves. It’s also not even about that anymore due to the rise of influencer marketing where products are paid to be featured in them or they’d been paid for by a brand in hopes of a feature, too.
With haul videos being so influential in what we buy, especially within the younger generations, they can be problematic if we’re going to make sustainability a priority. It’s also problematic if the brands being promoted are perhaps not as ethical as we might like because they gain interest and that sends a signal to them that they’re ‘working’ or that they’re successful.
There’s a great quote by Anna Lappe which is, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”, and I think it rings true for how we approach influence as well. Every time you promote a brand, you’re casting a vote for what kind of world you want other people to cast a vote for too.
So, why do I think haul videos don’t have to be problematic? It’s once again all to do with influence and the message put across. Although I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while now, the final push came when I watched one of Marzia (CutiePieMarzia)’s videos; a haul video, to be precise. Throughout the whole video she touched on ethics, even if it was just showing a brand’s core values and towards the end, she explained it all in further detail, explaining why buying items you truly love is more important than buying items you’ll only wear a handful of times even if they’re not necessarily ethical in the first place.
As much as I want to promote ethical shopping, it can be a difficult transition to make but this is a really great starting place not only for us, the viewers but also for content creators and how they approach these topics gradually and naturally.
One of the reasons I picked out Marzia specifically is because she has a large audience and if we’re going to talk about influence then we should talk about those who can influence the most. It’s really refreshing to see somebody at least opening the conversation, which I think we could do with a lot more of. On the grand scheme of things, no reputations would be harmed and brands aren’t going to back away from working with someone if they’re only naturally introducing a concept. In my opinion, there’s nothing to lose.
Another great example of someone with a wide audience is Liv from What Olivia Did. I’ve been a huge fan of Liv’s blog for years now but recently she did a post all about consumerism and it was honest. She didn’t make herself out to be anything more than she is, and that’s something we should value when it comes to these issues. We need transparency across the board.
These two examples are just small ways haul videos and fashion content can become less consumption based. I think constantly dropping in ideas and mentions of what we all need to work towards is actually sometimes more important and influential than huge statements once in a while. Consistency and commitment to a message are key.
One of these #Haulternative ideas is one I participated in and uploaded myself. The idea of a ‘Love Story’ haul involves sharing items of clothing you’ve had in your wardrobe for longer than just a few days. It’s still technically a haul because you’re sharing a collection of products, but it’s about sharing the idea of rekindling the love you originally had for them. It’s also about sentimentality (you can read more about how that’s important to sustainability here) and prolonging the number of times you use and wear something.
A video which wasn’t directly for Fashion Revolution but was along the same vein was by Tanya Burr. She posted a video about the most worn items in her wardrobe and even if the products and brands she was promoting weren’t necessarily ethical, she was engaging with the concept that clothes can last.
All of the messages add up and contribute to a more positive influence online. We just need more people to participate and learn more themselves. I will say it for the 783rd time – education is vital and is something we all need and can do with more of. I’m still learning about how to become a better shopper and a better influencer. Why don’t we start thinking about how we all can, too?
Do you think YouTube hauls are problematic? What hauls have you seen which are more positive? Let me know in the comments! Let’s discuss…
The word ‘influencer’ has started to creep into my vocabulary recently, because I’ve come to the conclusion (along with the media/press) that bloggers (including myself) are now much more than just bloggers. We’re influencers.
WHAT I WORE: Faux Leather Jacket (DIY & Peacocks) // Maxi Dress (ASOS) // Floppy Hat (ASOS) // Rings (Unknown)
Bought something you’ve seen a blogger wearing? They influenced that decision. Had an opinion changed by a blogger you read every day? They’re influencing your thoughts. That sounds rather 1984/Big Brother levels of scary, but if we can be influenced by brands and magazines in that 1984 scary way, then there is nothing to stop us from being influenced by bloggers (again – including myself), just the same.
I’m not here to talk about beauty standards and societal conformities and that kind of influence though. I’m here to talk about positive influence and my irritation over the fact that Not. Enough. Bloggers. Are. Using. Their. Audiences. To. Make. Change.
I can’t say I’m perfect. I haven’t spoken about racism in the fashion industry, or politics (but I guess with that one I’d be expected to talk about Theresa May’s shoes, wouldn’t I?) on my blog before, and I’m not making petitions and getting you all to sign it, but I am doing my small part in sharing my views and opinions on certain things, specifically ethical and sustainable fashion, and how fast fashion is getting kind of old. So, I am doing something… but just the odd blogger, here and there, in my opinion, isn’t enough.
I’m not here trying to guilt anyone who is a blogger, but I hope that you will agree with me saying that there is a need and lack of bloggers using their audiences to make change happen. Perhaps my frustration comes from the fact that I’m not a huge blogger… yes, okay, I have a few magazine features under my belt (way to blow your own trumpet, Tolly) but I am nothing in comparison to the superstar YouTubers and followed-by-200k-on-Twitter bloggers, yet I am trying my best to put out a message that will only reach a few hundred. These bloggers, with a power and influence that they know they have, could be doing massive amounts to change the minds of literally thousands (if not, millions) of people. But they’re not. Why? Well, that’s the answer I want to figure out.
I’ve seen a few arguments to this question, including ‘It wouldn’t fit in with my aesthetic/blog topic’ and ‘I want my blog to be a place to escape’, or even, ‘There’s somebody else already doing it’. They’re all valid, and if that’s what you believe, then it’s your blog; sure, stick with that. But think about the possibilities of what you could be doing.
If you get comments on your posts, it’s because somebody has taken the time to read the majority of the words within it (and finds it worthy of adding to). That means that somebody is listening to you. Somebody is being influenced by you. Even if it’s just one… that’s somebody who could learn about something important and topical, that they might not have thought about before.
Let’s take me and ethical fashion, for example. I’ve had quite a lot of readers commenting on my blog and saying ‘I never really knew about this before, I’m definitely going to learn more’, which is exactly what I want whenever I talk about it. So what if a blogger with 100 times the amount of readers as I have, spoke about the same issues? That would be 100 times more the amount of people being influenced.
The argument of ‘It wouldn’t fit in with my aesthetic/blog topic’ is a bit of a weak one for me personally. It takes me back to one of the reasons I even wrote this post – Vivienne Westwood (and Ian Kelly)’s book about Vivienne’s life and career. You probably already know, but Vivienne works closely with climate change and combines fashion and her activism into one. When she spoke about this in the book, she said that everything is connected, it’s just finding a way to comfortably connect it that can become a struggle… but, it can be done.
Obviously, if there’s no cause or topic you feel worthy of talking about, then don’t force it just to influence people. Talk about something that you are passionate about and believe in strongly. If you’re a beauty blogger, you can still talk about such topics as ethical and sustainable fashion, because fashion links in with beauty and trends and how consumerism and capitalism do their part. If you’re a book blogger, talk about books which discuss these types of topics.
~ HOW TO SPREAD A MESSAGE ~
✓ Tweet about it ✓ Retweet other people’s tweets ✓ Use Facebook to post lengthier updates (there’s no 140 character limit!) ✓ Blend in subtle messages within other blog posts ✓ Write a mission statement for your about page
✓ Ask your readers questions about the topic ✓ If you’re not; admit that you’re not perfect (especially with things such as ethical shopping etc) ✓ Bring your readers along on your journey ✓ If it’s important to you – let it be important
Whatever kind of blogger you are – you have an audience that listens, trusts and is influenced by you, so you may as well use that to your advantage. Even if you don’t do it on your actual blog, speaking up about things on social media is important too, because it is even more easily shareable, which means the people you are influencing can then influence their friends and family and their own audiences.
I think it probably hits home to me so much because ethical and sustainable fashion now seems to me, unquestionable. I don’t really understand why more people aren’t talking about it. I’d love for people who do have bigger audiences than me, to start spreading the same awareness. Especially those who have millions of beady eyes watching. I’ve only seen a couple of people who have started to do this, like CutiePieMarzia, who worked on the Fashion Revolution ‘#Haulternative’ campaign, and more recently, Tanya Burr, who is working on the Global Goals campaign which focuses on gender equality worldwide.
The most important part about people such as Tanya spreading these messages, is the fact that she is reaching out to teens. Younger people are being fed knowledge and are starting to question things because someone they watch and admire is telling them that it’s important. She’s using her influence, and really – it’s just that simple.
If you’ve been contemplating writing a post about a topic that is close to your heart, then write it. Use the power you have at your fingertips. If just one person reads it and decides to learn even more, that’s one person you’ve influenced. That’s one more person who might just go off and change the world (even if that sounds rather over the top).
Let me know in the comments what you’d like to see influencers talking about, and how you think it can be done!
Tomorrow (24th April 2015) is Fashion Revolution Day! If you’re not sure what that is, well I’m here to explain. Fashion Revolution is a campaign to raise awareness of the true cost of fashion, show the world that change is possible, and celebrate all those involved in creating a more sustainable future. I’m quite passionate about the whole thing and I believe you should be too. There’s quite a good explanation over on Huffington Post too!
As part of Fashion Revolution Day this year, they’re trying to get as many bloggers, writers, YouTubers and influencers to share a “#Haulternative” video or blog post. The idea is to inspire as many people as possible to get back into the charity shops, raid through jumble sales, purchase vintage gems and think more about expensive, quality, investment buys than huge hauls of cheap and cheerful items. I think it’s such a great idea and it shouldn’t just be aimed at bloggers either; YOU should get involved too.
You can watch my #Haulternative video above. I’ve picked out a few of my favourite second hand items. Some of them were seriously cheap and look seriously cool among most of my wardrobe. If you are inspired by this video and blog post, make sure to let me know in the comments! I’d love to know what you purchase…
I didn’t want to just talk about some of my favourite pieces though, I wanted to talk about why second hand shopping is actually really important. In my opinion so many people shy away from charity shops and jumble sales because I suppose the idea is a little bit odd. You’re wearing something that a stranger has already worn before. I get it. It is kinda’ weird, but when you think about the positives of buying second hand, you’ll probably want to go shopping straight away…
You’re helping the environment…
Clothes that you pick up from the charity shops and vintage stalls have been worn before, and they’re there to be worn again. It’s fashion’s way of recycling. This stops clothes from being chucked into the landfill sites and being completely wasted. A perfectly usable pair of jeans could be sat there in your local Oxfam waiting to be worn again! If you remember that you’re helping the planet and reducing waste when you purchase, then you should be able to forget that someone else has worn the same jeans.
Second hand clothes come with a purse-friendly price tag…
Unless you’re shopping at a top end vintage designer store, most second hand items will be cheap as chips. You can watch my video just to see a few of the bargains which I have picked up. I mean, who can resist £1 KENZO shorts?! The more expensive charity shops tend to be those with higher quality, more interesting pieces but even then you probably won’t be spending more than £25, which in my opinion is still a bargain. So if you’re on a budget, get down to your town’s weekly car-boot sale and find something for less!
Purchasing items at charity shops and jumble sales doesn’t just help your wardrobe…
It’s in the name, “charity” shops! When you buy, you support a good cause. I’ve listed below just some of the places your money goes at popular charity shops across the UK…
…but don’t just think only charity shops help! Things like car-boot sales and jumble sales help your community! Even on eBay, you help somebody out by putting a few coins back into their purse 🙂
As I mentioned above, a pair of perfectly usable jeans might be out there waiting for you, but not just jeans! I’ve found so many pieces (like the ones in my video) that are in perfect condition and look as good as new. So you don’t have to worry about anyone thinking you shop second hand… and if you do feel worried, or anyone does mention it, direct them to this blog post and explain why it’s much better to be wearing someone else’s clothes than something brand spanking new!
Ask the brands you wear #WhoMadeMyClothes Share your #Haulternative
Those are only a few of the amazing positives of shopping second hand. I hope it has inspired you in some way! I definitely want to start buying more second hand pieces, because you really can find some brilliant pieces in your price range. And, if you do, make sure you not only share your #Haulternative shopping spree, but make sure you tweet the brand that is on the label with #WhoMadeMyClothes to see where it came from! Now go and get spreading the word!
Welcome to my blog! I'm Tolly aka Tolly Dolly Posh. I'm a 17 year old ethical fashion blogger, and aspiring fashion designer. I like to scrapbook and wander around taking inspiration from all around me. Attempting to become more ethical and sustainable every day! If you want to learn more about me, here's my about page.
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