Two years ago, my daughter asked me a simple question: “Mommy, who made my dress?” I told her that someone who worked for the clothing company made her dress, but I knew that the answer was not so simple. I started paying attention to the labels on my children’s clothes: Made in Vietnam, Made in China, Made in Nicaragua, Made in Bangladesh. I knew that my own wardrobe was no different. I had heard about the Rana Plaza collapse, which occurred on April 24, 2013, killing more than 1,100 people and injuring 2,500 more. Most of the victims were young women who worked for garment companies. Although I knew of this tragedy, I felt powerless after it occurred, not believing that anything I could do would make a difference. I became a mom in 2014, so all the of my children’s clothing was purchased after the Rana Plaza collapse. I realized that the powerlessness I had felt in the wake of the Rana Plaza tragedy had led to complacency; the bulk of our clothing was new, cheap, and made in places that generally lacked proper compensation and working conditions.
My daughter’s question, “Who made my dress?” got me thinking about our connection to the people who make our clothing. The answer prompted me to join the Fashion Revolution. No longer would I ignore the low wages, poor working conditions, and negative environmental impact associated with fast fashion. I wanted to make changes so I could answer my daughter’s question about her dress with integrity. I needed to become a revolutionary.
Most days, the closest I come to being a revolutionary is singing along to the “Hamilton” soundtrack while I cook dinner. However, I was serious about making changes and started by becoming more educated on the reality of the fashion industry. I watched the documentary The True Cost and learned more about the fast fashion industry, how it harms our planet and exploits the many garment workers toiling to manufacture our clothing. I also discovered Fashion Revolution Week, which takes place each year at the end of April. Fashion Revolution Week is a great way to get started supporting ethical sustainable fashion.
This year, Fashion Revolution Week is April 22-28.
Fashion Revolution Week encourages consumers to ask retailers the same question my daughter asked me: Who made my clothes? Consumers are also encouraged to write letters to clothing companies and to share their stories via social media. Check out their list of ways to get involved. This year, there are also Fashion Revolution Week events planned here in the D.C. Area.
Participate in Fashion Revolution Week right here in D.C. at these local events:
4/24 Fashion in Full Circle: An Evening of Conversation About Circularity in DC’s Textile Industry @ Optoro, 6-8 p.m. More Details & Registration
4/25 Don’t shop – swap! Clothing Swap @ Green America, 5-7 p.m. More Details & RSVP
There are definitely challenges to maintaining an ethical and sustainable wardrobe, and I am not perfect. I recently saw an Instagram post that gave a tutorial on how to make underwear from old t-shirts. I can’t say that I am ready for that in my life. However, every time I revive a piece from my closet, purchase secondhand clothing, or find a new fair trade company to support, I am being a fashion revolutionary. I am excited and grateful to be a part of this important movement, all because my sweet girl asked me, “Mommy, who made my dress?”
Questions about the local events listed above? Direct them to [email protected]