In its third year, Fashion Revolution Week brings awareness to the true cost of fashion – to both people and planet – with the goal of engaging everyone across the entire fashion value chain to catapult more sustainable industry practices. What initially started as a one-day event response to the horrifying incidents of Rana Plaza on April 24, 2013, has expanded to a week long movement in April, reaching 89 countries and sparking conversations between consumers and brands, brands and government, and influencers and society.
Brands, consumers, government and industry influencers are taking note. It is no longer a question of whether or not a brand will choose to participate in social shifts as this, but how it will respond. Here, the focus is on urging consumers to ‘show their label and ask clothing companies #WhoMadeMyClothes. And, increasingly, brands are preparing themselves for meaningful reply.
In the US, Levi’s demonstrated its commitment to transparency by readily acknowledging consumers’ questions of its supply chain rigor. As one of only 10 brands who responded to Fashion Revolution’s survey for its inaugural Fashion Transparency Index, Levi’s continues to chart its reputation and stature as a leading sustainability champion in the industry.
In Turkey, Massimo Dutti, a Spanish clothes manufacturing company part of Inditex Group (alongside Zara and Bershka), was called into the spotlight by a customer asking who made her t-shirt. What followed was a detailed and meaningful response from the brand which ultimately created a heartfelt dialogue with the consumer.
Beyond brands, Fashion Revolution recognizes the need to engage comprehensive stakeholders in dialogue and action to remedy the state of the industry – even government. As part of its week-long curriculum, Fashion Question Time at the UK House of Parliament is held as discussion too amongst leading industry and government figures to map out steps required for revolutionary change in the textile industry. This year it marked the start of Fashion Revolution Week.
The media also showed its support for the cause, from industry heavy weights such as Vogue covering the movement to cultural media outlets posing tough and critical questions. If there’s enough being done. Numerous celebrities and industry insiders also donned their garments inside out to join the global conversation across social media.
From the detrimental (and oftentimes hidden) costs of cheaper inputs and cheaper labor, as outlined by World Economic Forum, to the staggering facts of brands’ passive and apathetic attitude toward their own supply chain – with 48% not tracing the factories where their garments were made and 91% not knowing where the raw materials came from – the industry is indeed in need of a Revolution of global scale.
What are three key takeaways for your brand?
- Embrace Transparency: From participating in industry conversations to disclosing meaningful information and data publicly, a heightened level of transparency will not only prove meaningful to your stakeholders, but instills a sense of rigor and responsibility within your business.
- Participate Actively: Identify the range of cultural initiatives and movements where your brand should have an active presence, not only to demonstrate engagement, but where lack of engagement could call your brand adversely into question.
- Respond Meaningfully: Be prepared to answer the ‘tough’ questions that consumers and stakeholders are increasingly presenting to brands with equally meaningful, detailed and honest responses that squarely focus on what you are and are not doing, as well as any plans to improve in the future.
As digital and social media continue to connect us in real-time more than ever, the opportunity for open and continuous conversations presents critical shifts in how your brand interacts with and builds its customer community. The questions then become not if, but how, when and where will your brand show up to lead a conversation that is meaningful and relevant to your stakeholders.
Images courtesy of Fashion Revolution >> http://fashionrevolution.org/blog/