Fashion Revolution
Photo Credit: Supplied

Fashion Revolution Week starts on Monday—a time when we can all learn more about the power our closets hold to creating a more sustainable environment and more conscious circular economy:

 

Global (14 April 2024) — It’s no secret that the traditional fashion industry puts a great strain on environmental goals around the world. And the problem is more pressing than it has ever been—thanks to the rapid increase of trend cycles, the hyper-accessibility of poor-quality clothing driven by online platforms, and of course, a struggling economy that continues to drive people to cheaper clothing solutions. This is where movements like the Global Fashion Revolution Movement are stepping in as a big reminder for the world to think twice and slow down.

Now operational in over 75 countries, the Fashion Revolution Movement is working hard to prove that ethical and sustainable practices in the fashion industry are critically important.

Locally, Fashion Revolution South Africa focuses on reviving the textile and garment manufacturing sector to create dignified work and contribute positively towards economic growth and development.

These eco-social conscious concepts and actions culminate every year during Fashion Revolution Week, around the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy, when an 80-storey building housing garment factories collapsed in Bangladesh killing more than 1100 people.

The campaign brings together the largest fashion activism movement with a variety of activations all over the world. Now in its tenth year, it is celebrating a decade of activism with 10 days of action running from Monday 15 April to Wednesday 24 April.

How to be a Fashion Revolutionary

This year’s theme is How to be a Fashion Revolutionary. Especially in our local context with the looming presence of fast fashion giants like TEMU and Shein aggressively targeting South African price-sensitive and fashion-loving consumers, the call to action is asking both individuals and organisations to be revolutionary by making informed decisions when shopping.

Fashion Revolutionary South Africa has put together a variety of events across the country to get involved in this Week, including:

  • Take up ‘The Joyful Closet Consumption Challenge’, a year-long experiment backed by a free online system that includes instructional videos, interactive discussion forums, practical exercises, and curated resources. The goal of the challenge is to improve your connection to your clothes and rethink consumption patterns towards more conscious options, while having fun!
  • Download and use the Fashion Revolution posters (available in 11 official languages) from their website and share it across your work spaces and social platforms.
  • Take a look at the Fashion Revolution Manifesto
  • Attend local events taking place from 15 to 24 April in Cape Town and Johannesburg, including film screenings, a Slow Fashion Festival, a Mend in Public Day, and a Clothing Swap.
  • Volunteer with Fashion Revolution South Africa and be a part of the world’s largest fashion activism movement.
  • Ask a seamstress to mend or revive your clothing. That favourite pair of jeans that tore, that shirt that doesn’t “sit right,” and that dress with boring sleeves – a local seamstress can help you jazz them up and revive them! This will support local employment while extending the life of your clothing items.
  • Don’t want to wear it anymore? Donate your gently worn clothing to social-impact organisations like Taking Care of Business which trains unemployed mothers to buy and sell clothing and become financially independent.

Local Impact

Tracey Gilmore, Taking Care of Business’s COO, says:

“Fashion Revolution Week calls on each of us to play our part. We need to imagine a new fashion future – one that is sustainable and honours local producers. Our Remake programme is not the full solution to the fast fashion crisis but we are playing our part and we ask everyone to do the same. Economic mobility and dignified work opportunities should not come at the expense of sustainability. When we create self-employment opportunities, we must consider the costs and benefits to people, their communities and our planet’s finite resources.” 

Since its establishment in 2010, Taking Care of Business (TCB)’s mission has been eradicating poverty in South African families, with many success stories to share.

Through different training and development programmes, struggling South Africans have been able to become their own bosses, all while being part of sustainable solutions and adding to the circular economy with a particular emphasis on the fashion industry.

To date, TCB has reportedly empowered over 7,000 unemployed men and women and diverted over 20 million fashion, homeware and appliance items from landfills. This has largely been possible thanks to its Remake programme— a 12-month enterprise development initiative that gives local seamstresses tools and resources to establish micro-manufacturing businesses using repurposed clothing and textile waste.

Currently, the Remake programme has 72 participants based in Cape Town and will expand to Durban in 2025!

TCB’s collaborations with local fashion retailers which donate their end-of-season and customer returns to TCB instead of sending them to landfill, helps make the magic possible. By reselling, reusing, repairing and repurposing fashion items into new products, TCB not only reduces fashion waste but also cultivates a culture of conscious consumption.

Abigail Masholoko, a seamstress in the Remake programme, says, “The clothes that are donated to us, inspire me. Some people may see rejected or broken clothes, but I see what these items could become! Those clothes can be changed into something else, a skirt can become trousers and trousers can be transformed into a skirt, a bag or a pot plant cover. There are many things that can be made from old clothes.”

The Five R’s of Sustainable Fashion

Tracey says, “At the heart of the fashion revolution should lie the principles of the five R’s: refusing, reducing, re-wearing, repurposing, and recycling. These pillars offer practical solutions for consumers to adopt in their daily lives to minimise their environmental footprint. By embracing the five R’s of sustainable fashion, individuals can contribute to building a more ethical and sustainable fashion industry, one garment at a time. Through collective action and collaboration, we can redefine South Africa’s fashion industry, creating a future where prosperity is shared and the planet is protected.” 


Sources: Supplied 
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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