Fashion Revolution is the world's largest fashion activist movements, which started in London in 2013. It has been present in Italy since 2014 and is active with its initiatives in over 100 countries worldwide. We talk about it with Marina Spadafora, coordinator of Fashion Revolution Italy, ambassador of ethical fashion in the world.
It all began in London, in 2013 after the terrible disaster in Dhaka (Bangladesh) when the Rana Plaza production complex collapsed, killing over 1100 people and injuring over 2500. A terrible event - the fourth biggest industrial disaster in history. The victims were mostly young women), which led Ursula de Castro and Carrie Sommers to found a movement so that “people no longer had to die for fashion”.
“The hashtag WHO MADE MY CLOTHES? was launched - explains Marina Spadafora, coordinator of Fashion Revolution Italy - to urge people to ask themselves this question, raising a very important and very precise issue: before making a purchase let's ask ourselves who is behind that garment, whether the people who made it had safe and decent working and wage conditions, what materials were used, whether the environment was respected.
This is how this movement was started. It’s objective is to end human and environmental exploitation in the global fashion industry and value people over growth and profit. “To do this, we need to increase consumer awareness”, Marina continues, “because in fact, every time we buy any item, we make a very specific choice, by deciding what kind of product to buy and from whom.
When they called me from London to coordinate and commit myself to the movement in Italy, I immediately said yes, because I have always been completely committed in this sense. Since 2013, we have been very active in Italy, also from a legislative point of view, because the cultural change we promote needs a solid legislative basis, with regulations covering all aspects of production and distribution. Recently, together with 59 other NGOs, we submitted a bill to the European Parliament called Fairy Sustainable Textile.
This is a thorough and wide-ranging proposal with points that we consider to be fundamental, such as that concerning the mandatory use of talking labels. We would like to see QR codes that, when scanned, would give the history and all the steps of that garment: where it was made, by whom, how the people were paid, how the fabric was produced, what's inside it, what kind of colour it was dyed with, given that the garment is in contact with our skin, which is a very absorbent organ. Just as in the world of food and cosmetics. I would add that we are very much in favour of the carbon tax, because it means taxing colours that pollute”.
Marina points out that there is still a lot to be done to understand all these aspects, especially on the issue of awareness. “Education is the basis. I teach at various universities, also abroad, and I realise that the level of preparation and knowledge of sustainability in our country is still very low. We must continue to believe and work towards our goals without losing hope. My motto is a beautiful phrase by Nelson Mandela: It always seems impossible until it’s done”.
And among the many initiatives that Fashion Revolution promotes, we would like to mention the one that takes place every 24 April, the day of the Rana Plaza tragedy. On this occasion, people are asked to wear an item of clothing upside down with the label prominently displayed and then take a selfie with the question “Who Made My Clothes”?
And the Fashion Revolution Map, a real map with “green” addresses, a practical tool for consumers wishing to shop more responsibly. Many companies present, many interesting stories, such as SeeMe, a line of jewellery designed by Caterina Occhio and handmade by Tunisian women who are victims of violence, rejected by their communities and forced into a life of neglect. One woman's idea to change the lives of other women, with the opportunity to build a new future through this job.
“Those interested can write to us at email@example.com - Marina tells us - sending all the necessary information for the application. There is a precise monitoring and verification process which, once passed, allows membership to this network. The act of buying is an important step towards creating a more transparent and responsible fashion industry. We consumers are the force that can bring about change.