Now in its fifth year – coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the catastrophic Bangladeshi Rana Plaza factory collapse after which it was founded – Fashion Revolution has returned with a manifesto to radically champion sustainability, advocate transparency and demand conscious consumerism in the fashion industry.

Bringing together designers, producers, writers, business leaders, brands, consumers et al., the non-profit organisation asks us to question #whomademyclothes with a week of social campaigns, Open Studio workshops, events – including ‘Fashion Question Time’ at the Houses of Parliament – plus the release of Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index, which ranks the top 150 brands by the information they have disclosed around their supply chain.

We visited the Fashion Open Studio launch event, supported by The European Confederation of Linen and Hemp, to listen as Community Clothing – the company striving to restore Britain’s textile communities and create jobs for skilled workers – and bespoke, traditionally handcrafted eyewear brand, ByOcular, took to the stage.

The Anchal Project

Lucy Clayton, CEO, Community Clothing
“Fashion Revolution is so vital for the fact that it has real momentum; it’s important for both consumers and brands. One of the problems for consumers at the moment is that so many people want to try to shop ethically – there’s a certain consciousness and a gut feeling around it – but, actually, changing one’s behaviour is really difficult. Nothing is particularly straightforward or obvious about how you might buy better. In fact it’s all quite overwhelming unless you become an expert, which I don’t think we should be asking every customer to be.

There’s a lot of ‘green washing’ with some larger, aggressive brands jumping on the bandwagon and using the language of sustainability to cloak what’s really an aggressive and destructive business model. What they’re actually doing just makes you want to buy all the time. Yes, I think for consumers it’s really difficult. One thing that brands can do in response to that, is to not just be transparent, but to signpost the things that are good about what they do.

Fashion Revolution really helps us to become transparent through simple signposts like the campaign #whomademyclothes; the brands you can trust can respond honestly and openly to that by celebrating the people that make the clothes. I’m really grateful for that as a brand, because I think it is actually the responsibility of brands to do more than its consumers.”

Caren Downie, Founder, ByOcular
“I’ve really always believed in bringing industry skillsets back to the UK. Not only for the fact of employment – which, along with ethical sourcing, is part of it all – but also for the industry as well. It improves speed to market; it makes you much more nimble and able to satisfy your customers’ needs; it’s also hugely easier to control practice from every kind of perspective.

From a designer’s perspective, it’s very important that we treat everybody fairly and to actually know who makes our clothes. I’ve always worked very closely with my suppliers, visiting the factories and so on – it’s inspiring and you can actually appreciate how hard they all work, what they do and their skills as well.

The glasses industry is probably worse than the garment industry; it’s not transparent in any way shape or form. A lot of people say that they’re made somewhere and it turns out that they’re not, so this is a very important movement and hashtag."

Click here to learn more about Fashion Revolution and how you can get involved. Main image: Denim Smith, Melbourne.