Fashion Revolution Week is in April, to honour those lost in the Rana Plaza tragedy. In fact, I just received an email from them with some fantastic and encouraging statistics from 2017; 533 million impressions on social media in April alone. Almost a 250% increase from 2016.
This is proof, surely, that a Fashion Revolution IS in progress. We want to know where our clothes are made, and by who. Brands cannot continue to ignore us. (Yes, John Lewis and Cath Kidston, I’m looking at you)
The noise we make during Fashion Revolution Week is absolutely vital, but we musn’t fall silent the other 51 weeks of the year. Fashion Revolution have lots of suggestions for things we can do, and one of those is to write a love letter to an item of clothing.
My Fashion Revolution Love Letter
Dear tunic top
I remember buying you. It was 2004 and I was a student of 20. I picked you out of my La Redoute catalogue, unsure of your style but desperately needing some more summery clothes. At that point in my life I was more likely to be wearing jeans and band t-shirts with scruffy trainers, but I took a chance on you. I was training to be a primary school teacher, so I figured, worst case scenario, you’d do for looking smart on placement.
You’re dark green, 100% polyester and slightly see-through; I’ve never had the confidence to wear you without a vest top underneath. I’ve always been drawn to your sparkly sequins and embellishments and that’s probably what has made me keep you. You’ve been in my wardrobe for 13 years now. 13 years… that’s longer than I’ve even known Andy! I look at you now and realise that a few sequins have gone astray over the years. I must have some somewhere that I can replace them with.
You’ve been worn so many times I wouldn’t even be able to guess, but it’s certainly more than the 30 that Livia Firth recommends. Not bad for a top I didn’t think I’d wear much. My style has changed so much over the past 13 years, and yet somehow, you’ve always fit in. I’ve worn you with jeans, with miniskirts, with maxi skirts, with trousers, with shorts, over a swimsuit, over dresses, with shoes, with trainers, with flip flops.
You’ve been there for me for teaching placements, for meals out, nights at the pub, for work, for holidays. Together we’ve lived in about ten houses, both in Birmingham and Manchester, and we’ve travelled to Spain and Greece. You survived in my wardrobe after I had kids, when a lot of my clothes didn’t. You even survived my ruthless KonMari* clear out last year; a testament to both your versatility and ability to spark joy after all this time.
Back when I bought you I couldn’t even sew on a button, never mind make my own clothes. Now I have a new found appreciation for how you were made. Your label tells me that you were made in India. Immediately my imagination springs into action and I try to think about who made you. I know that it’s most likely that you were sewn by several different young women; each responsible for a different step in the assembly line. I wonder what kind of conditions they worked in, how much they were paid. After all this time, I’ll guess I’ll never know.
You might have been intended as a fast fashion item, but you’ve been so much more.
Which garment would you write your love letter to? If you have written one please share it with me!