April 24th marks the five year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory disaster. This tragic event killed 1,138 people and injured 2,000. If you could use a little refresher, Rana Plaza was a large commercial building that housed many garment factories in Bangladesh. It collapsed due to faulty architecture, while packed with people. The day before the incident, the owner of the establishment on the ground floor told their employees to stay home because cracks had been noticed in the foundation of the warehouse. Many of the garment workshops on the upper levels told their staff that if they did not come to work the next day, they would be fired. So, on 4/24/13, the garment workers continued business as usual.
This is also the date when the global non-profit organization Fashion Revolution was born. Fashion Revolution's aspiration is to unite the fashion industry and ignite a radical change in the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased. Fashion Rev demands transparency in the fashion supply chain by encouraging all shoppers to ask #WhoMadeMyClothes? Does each employee have access to basic human rights? Are the materials sustainable, so we are stewards of the earth? Are we being a conscious consumer by supporting this brand?
At Fauxgerty, we typically like to focus on all things positive, but with our dedication to sustainability, transparency, and mindfulness in all it’s forms, we feel the need to share and amplify these messages for Fashion Revolution Week (4/22--4/28). In honor of this week and our desperate need for change, we’re going to shed light on some sobering facts about the fast-fashion industry, what it’s doing to our beloved planet, and ways we can be more mindful of how we chose to fabricate our lives.
- The fashion industry is the world’s third largest industry. (Right behind automotive and electronics.)
- The fashion industry is the world’s second-largest polluter.* (Right behind the oil industry.)
- 1 of 6 people in the world work in the fashion industry. 80% of garment workers are women who must cope with long hours, unprotected exposure to toxic chemicals, sexual harassment, discrimination, forced overtime, and lack of job security. In Bangladesh, a minimum wage is only 18% of a monthly living wage.
- Greenpeace estimates that 20% of clothing will never be worn once.
- 60% of all clothing produced ends up in incinerators or landfills within one year of being made.
- In the USA, 10.5 million tons of clothing are sent to landfill every year. That’s about 30 times as heavy as the Empire State Building. The clothing in these landfills leaches toxic chemicals and dyes which contaminate soil and groundwater.
- On average, women wear a garment 4-7 times before discarding it.
- Only 10% of clothes people donate to thrift stores or charities get sold, the rest goes to landfill. (And the clothing that does make it over to developing countries ends up destroying their local textile and tailoring industry.)
- It takes an average of 7,000 liters of water to produce one pair of jeans. That’s the amount of water you drink in 5-6 years.
- It’s estimated that every non-organic cotton t-shirt requires around 713 gallons of water throughout the supply chain to produce. That’s the amount of water you drink in 3 years.
- Americans buy an average of 64 items of clothing per year.
“Treat your garments like an investment piece, the same way you would a dishwasher or car. You do your research on those items before buying because you hope to hold onto them for a long time. Clothing is no different.” - Melinda Tually, Regional Co-ordinator Fashion Revolution Australia.
The good news is that we can be the change we need to see! With the advent of social media, transparency, and conscious consumerism, times are changing. In fact, in 2017 there was a 100% increase in Google searches for “Sustainable Fashion”. Little by little, a little becomes a lot. We encourage everyone to make a fashion statement that goes beyond each new season by:
- Don’t buy into fast-fashion. Think of your money as energy. To put it bluntly, if an item is cheap, it was likely produced cheaply.
- Shop for quality, not quantity. Do you honestly need five new articles of clothing per month? Only justify a purchase if you’ll want to reach for it every day. It’s shocking to think that if you wear a piece more than eight times, it’s lifespan will be longer than the average garment.
- Only purchase cotton items made with organic cotton. (Organic cotton is 100% eco-friendly. It’s grown without the use of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and genetic engineering. Instead of toxic chemicals, farmers use beneficial insects, crop rotation, and compost to build soil quality, enhance biodiversity, and protect the air and water on which we depend.)
- Ask companies #WhoMadeMyClothes?
- Mend or tailor clothing that needs repair instead of replacing.
- Got a lot of stuff you don’t wear, but craving something new? Get your gals together and throw a clothing swap each season.
- Spread awareness. For more information, check out FashionRevolution.Org
The older we get, the more we realize everything is connected. The smallest changes pave the way to larger ones, and vice-versa. At Fauxgerty we pay our sewers over 70% above the minimum wage, use organic cotton in our basics, utilize recycled materials that will decompose in our outer-wear, and create garments from vintage materials that other fashion houses have left behind. We make these deadstock garments on-demand, AKA made-to-order. This way we won't overproduce- which means excess waste. These pieces are made in Alabama, a state away from our headquarters in St. Louis, so we are able to nurture the relationship we have with the wonderful people who make our clothes.
On that note, Happy Fashion Revolution Week! What are you doing to celebrate? We suggest having a clothing swap with your gal pals or sending postcards to brands asking "Who Made My Clothes?" And if you ever want to buy anything new, always shop sustainably.
* There has been some debate about this! For more info, check out this article from The New York Times.