Paint your clothes and redesign your t-shirts: revive your wardrobe with Fashion Revolution

A week after lockdown began to ease in the UK, Fashion Revolution Week (FRW) kicks off today with a reminder that “back-to-normal” isn’t always best – especially when it comes to the fashion industry.

“Covid was like a giant magnifying lens that showed us very clearly where we keep going wrong as people on this planet,” says Orsola de Castro, founder and global creative director of Fashion Revolution, pointing to exploitation and abuse which, she says, “are rife” in supply chains.

The aim of Fashion Revolution – which de Castro established in 2013 in response to the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh – is to force the fashion industry to “value people and the planet over growth and profit” as well as educate consumers on the questions to ask about their clothes and how to shop sustainably. “Buying from small businesses and thinking of longevity when it comes to what we already own can make a long-term difference,” she adds.

To help steer people in the right direction, Fashion Open Studio (FOS) – the showcase and mentoring initiative set up by Fashion Revolution as an antidote to fashion week to show the nitty gritty reality of designers’ processes – is holding a series of talks, webinars and workshops over the next seven days. More than 60 designers from 20 countries across Europe, Africa, Asia and South America are gearing up to shed light on their sustainable innovation, local heritage and regenerative business models.

“It’s so rare to have all these diverse voices talking about the impact of the climate crisis, how they are keeping local crafts alive or highlighting local indigenous materials,” says Tamsin Blanchard, curator of FOS. “This is a slice of a utopian planet fashion – an already existing version of the fashion industry that takes responsibility for its impact on the environment, works transparently and collaboratively and treats everyone in the supply chain with respect.”

This week is, say de Castro and Blanchard, all about getting people involved. They want people to post pictures on their social media channels this week with the hashtag #whomademyfabric and to tag the brands whose clothes they are wearing. In addition, there is a raft of digital workshops you can join which will have you turning your shower mat into a handbag, remaking your old T-shirts and finger-knitting in no time.

“Much of the discussion around fashion and sustainability can be alienating to people and by bringing them into the world of the designer’s studio, we hope that they can engage with some big issues in a tangible way,” says Blanchard.

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