On 24 April 2013, 1,138 people lost their lives in the collapse of Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh. This incident marked the birth of the Fashion Revolution movement and stands as the starting point of almost a decade of progressive positive change for the fashion industry and its workers.
Fashion Revolution Week 2020 - Transparent Supply Chains
Fashion Revolution Week takes place each year as a stark reminder of the true cost of poorly constructed supply chains in the fashion industry, but it also stands as a beacon of hope for a better future. Brands from across the globe come together to celebrate those who are working hard to ensure that we never see a repeat of what happened at Rana Plaza.
Running this year from 20th – 27th April, we’re starting off Fashion Revolution Week at Fabric For Freedom with a look at our own supply chain practices, and the promises we have made in order to create a supply chain that values and respects the workers involved throughout, from farm to finished garment.
Transparency and human rights have always been at the core of Fabric For Freedom. Having worked as a buyer in the fashion industry for almost a decade, Esther Knight (our founder and CEO) has seen first-hand the issues that arise from the low-cost, high-pressure supply chains that are commonly used across the industry by fast-fashion and high-end designer brands alike. From farmers entering vicious cotton-seed debt cycles, to workers being exploited and harassed in poorly constructed factories, corners are cut right across the supply chain to drive costs down to their very lowest. The result is a sacrifice of human rights and health & safety measures that puts the very people who carefully make our clothes at risk. Transparency issues mean that sometimes we don’t even know these workplaces exist within our own supply chains, allowing this kind of exploitation to slip quietly under the radar.
By opening up the conversation with suppliers and working together, we are as an industry beginning to see the implementation of solutions to these problems. Greenwashing still stands in the way of true progress for some companies, but by exemplifying how a positive supply chain can be run, those of us who remain true to our cause hope to set an example that others will be able to follow.
At Fabric For Freedom the cotton we use to make our clothing is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), meaning that the plants are 100% organically grown in dangerous-chemical-free conditions, by farmers in India who are paid fairly and who operate under safe conditions of work. This beautiful cotton is then sent to a GOTS-certified mill in Kerala, where it is carefully spun into yarn and woven into fabric by a Fairtrade community of skilled workers and artisans. Once we receive these fabrics here in the UK, our garments are constructed and produced in our London factories. We have a good relationship with the people working in and operating these factories, and we’ll often pop in to say hi and check up on the latest garments in our collections. Once the garments have been finished, they’re ready to be sent out to you, our customers, in our recycled packaging and biodegradable bags.
In the case of our upcycled and vintage collections, and any collections that use deadstock or end-of-roll fabrics, we source these fabrics from local suppliers in the UK before creating the garments right here in London.
We hold a guarantee that all workers in our supply chain are paid fair wages, work in safe conditions that comply with all health & safety laws and are treated properly as the skill artisans that they are. By operating in UK factories, we are supporting British fashion, creating local jobs and encouraging craftspeople to continue their unique, skilled work. We’re also cutting down on emissions and transport by operating from production to sale within London.
For the suppliers in India who we cannot visit personally, we use trusted auditors who regularly ensure that all production methods meet the requirements laid out by the Global Organic Textile Standard. We don’t cut any corners because we care about our suppliers and we want to ensure that they are treated as we would like to be treated ourselves.
"Tailoring is something I love and enjoy doing. To see myself working with renowned designers and how happy they are with my work is a true blessing for me and makes the long hours put into my business feel worthwhile." - Katya, Fabric For Freedom Supplier
We want our supply chain to work together with us rather than for us.
But our mission doesn’t end there.
A few days ago we also announced our newest supplier collaboration, working with a charity that supports homeless & vulnerable women by employing them in garment sewing operations. The aim of the charity is to teach these women skills that will help them with future employment prospects and give them the chance to get back on their feet and re-integrate themselves into the working environment. We're looking forward to teaching classes and running workshops with these women to share our skills and further cultivate the sense of community we strive for within our supply chain.
We’ve also partnered with the charities A21 Campaign, Freeset Global, and International Justice Mission, all three of which work to abolish modern slavery and human trafficking - an issue that is unfortunately still rife in the fashion industry. Find out more information and how you too can support these causes on our Charity & Partners page, and look out for our giving weeks across the year when 10% of our profits will be donated to our charity partners.
And if that's not enough, see our previous UN Sustainable Development Goals article for more information on how we’re supporting the progress of SDG, and which goals we have incorporated into our brand already to help create a better future for the generations to come.
This year’s Fashion Revolution Week will be like no other as COVID-19 continues to bring our work into the digital, but we’re working harder than ever to make sure our voice is heard. We won’t accept a return to business as usual with fast fashion chains wreaking havoc on our planet and the people who live on it.