Why We Need A Fashion Revolution

Five years on from the Rana Plaza collapse, a movement is still urging people to ask "who made my clothes?"

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Sammy Salsa, fashion stylist and director, wears his favourite Kowtow oversized knit top, made from 100% certified organic fair trade cotton.

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Golriz Ghahraman, Green Party MP: “Fashion has become a global battleground, especially for women who bear the brunt of sweatshop work. When I lived in Cambodia, I often passed sweatshops where hundreds of women were trapped in what was essentially modern-day slavery. Aside from incredibly low wages that allow the low prices we pay for fast fashion, the working conditions were so dire that there were often mass faintings as workers didn’t get enough oxygen in the window-less crammed rooms! It was heartbreaking.

Most of what I wear is recycled fashion, like this dress and belt. I love the hunt for each piece, it’s slow gratification but much more fun than buying mass produced outfits – and ultimately so much cheaper. When I do buy new, it’s normally to invest in a classic, like this New Zealand-made wool coat from Ingrid Starnes. This means keeping the one beautifully and ethically made piece for years. Far better for the environment and workers' rights.”

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Rachel Mills and Maeve Woodhouse, designers: "To us, ethical fashion means that no one has been harmed at any stage in the manufacturing of the garment, and it's an opportunity for brands to explore alternative means of production, and alternative products. We need a fashion revolution because so many seem oblivious to what goes on behind cheap garments, and are only interested in knowing the double digit price tag, rather than the damage it's inflicting on so many living people and the environment. No person’s life is less valuable than your need to own a $20 t-shirt that will only last a year!"

Maeve wears Miss Crabb jeans, and Rachel wears a Eugenie jacket.

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Lili Sumner, model and artist, wears one of her favourite tops by Intensity, the namesake brand of a woman who hand-makes all her pieces in New York City.

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Emma Gleason and Vinnie Paunovic, creators of Passage Journal: "My white shirt is by Sherie Muijs, made in New Zealand like all her designs. We had the rest of these garments made by a tailor here in Mumbai, choosing the fabrics ourselves from local sellers. Vinnie’s trousers are linen, and my skirt is made from hand spun, handwoven cotton khadi - a fabric championed by Gandhi, as part of the Swadeshi movement during the early 20th century, to assert Indian independence by encouraging a boycott of British products.

With the relatively cheap cost and prevalence of tailors here in India, not to mention the country’s rich textile history, it’s disheartening for us to see many of India’s youth embracing the monoculture of fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M and low-quality imports, in lieu of supporting small local businesses."

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Kingy Hsu, stylist: "For me, ethical fashion means to consume consciously, to reduce clothing waste as well as environmental damage. Here is my favourite item of clothing worn inside-out, a second-hand military jumpsuit - it's most comfortable and practical."

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Yasmine Ganley, creator of Anyone Girl, wearing her favourite garment from New Zealand-made label Sherie Mujis – the No. 01 classic Italian cotton shirt.

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Eden Vawdrey, founder of Edimo Swim, road-tripping around Australia and wearing her favourite vintage Harley Davidson denim jacket.

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Rosie Herdman, Viva writer and fashion assistant: “A large proportion of the clothing I buy is second-hand, which I think is one of the easiest ways to shop ethically. Plus vintage clothing is often cooler, more unique and really well made. I got this jumper in an op-shop in Queenstown – it’s by a brand called River Valley, made in New Zealand from 100% beautifully warm wool. My jeans are from a sustainable denim brand called Kings of Indigo, who work with recycled fabrics and have transparent supply chains from the stitching to the finishing.

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Dan Ahwa, Viva fashion editor: "I like to support local business and retailers as much as I possibly can. I wear this Matt Nash pinstripe blazer pretty much everyday. Having met the designer and knowing where his fabrics and trims are sourced from gives me confidence to make better decisions every time I'm buying something. During Fashion Revolution Week and beyond, I hope everyone remembers that while the market is saturated with clothes, always remember to buy less, choose well, make it last."

Picture / Rosie Herdman

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