THE RAVEN COLLECTIVE

There is more than meets the eye

Fashion is more than a pretty picture. Yes, we love garments, which makes us look good and feel great. We enjoy selecting the most beautiful pieces for a capsule wardrobe, that lasts longer than one season. But, there is more than meets the eye and it is definitely not about style only. None of the brands we represent here at the raven collective, would have been selected if they did not match our core values and mission.

Each piece we select has to be toxic free, animal friendly and only environmentally friendly materials may be used in the process. We also check the level of transparency in the sourcing and production process, to insure healthy and fair working conditions. Believe it or not… a roughly estimated 27 million people work in the conventional fashion industry live in modern slavery. 70% women and young girls.

So we do not only scout for beautiful pieces and screen brands on a daily basis, we also spend a fair amount of time collecting information and data about the dark side of fashion. Because that is why we do what we do.

The ugly truth

Fashion cannot be compared to what it used to be in the first part of the last century. It has lost its luster quickly since then. Some ugly truths need to be told. The apparel industry can be largely held responsible for textile filled landwastes, plastic in our oceans, deforestation and unethical working conditions for millions of people. That much is clear.

The garment and accessory industry is one of the biggest polluters worldwide, and is responsible for 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emission (same quantity of GHGs per year as the entire economies of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom combined). 20% of the industrial wastewater is polluted as a result of sourcing and production for fashion products.

Around 50% of the clothing in our closets is made from plastic and up to 700,000 fibres can come off our synthetic clothes in a typical wash. As a result, if the fashion industry continues as it is, between the years 2015 and 2050, 22 million tonnes of microfibres will enter our oceans. You also noticed the booming business of second hand clothing? That is only 10% of the fashion waste in Europe. 8% is recycled and a staggering 57% ends up in landfills (24% is incinerated in a CO²-intensive proces).

Ethics

Bear with us, because this is the part that drives our mission to support a more equal, inclusive and healthy solution when it comes to our daily wardrobe. An estimated 27% of the people in the industry does not get living wages, or works in an unsafe and unhealthy environment. You’re wrong if you might think that does not happen in Europe. One example: the UK fashion retailer Boohoo Group (92 million pounds profit last year) had workers continue working during the pandemic for only 3 pounds an hour. The Boohoo group is responsible for up to 80% of all clothing production in Leicester.

Paying more for your product is no guarantee. Fashion houses like Gucci and Prada, often use inexpensive Chinese-immigrant labor working in Tuscany, to create accessories and handbags that says ‘Made in Italy’.

Transparency

The industry itself is adapting, yet very slowly. According to the Fashion Transparency Index (Fashion Revolution, 2020) the average score of 250 of the biggest global fashion brands and retailers on governance is 29% and 16% on traceability. High score lists for fashion multinationals might look good. We say, in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

We are not staring blind (pun intended) on those numbers. The impact is clear and we feel that we have to keep saying that sustainable, or eco fashion, is  not just a new fancy conscious way of living for the richer part of the world. We do know that there is no such thing as 100% sustainability. We are on a constant learning curve, too. One thing is 100% clear to us: looking good should never mean that other people are treated unequally or that nature has to suffer. That is plain common sense for us, and, in fact, not that complicated at all.

Fashion Revolution Campaign

Remember the two major fashion factory accidents? The Tazreen factory fire and the Rana Plaza building collapse in India, where more than 1,100 people died and another 2,500 were injured, while sewing clothes for Mango, Zara, H&M, Benetton and Nike. The Rana Plaza building collapse is the fourth largest industrial disaster in history.

–It is eight years since Rana Plaza, and today the 8th Fashion Revolution Campaign kicks off. Fashion Revolution is a foundation that campaigns for a clean, safe, fair, transparent and accountable fashion industry. More information, impact reports, white papers and their manifesto you can find here.

There have been some positive change across the industry in recent years. However, human rights abuses and environmental degradation remain rife. While vast numbers of the public have become more aware of these problems, many people remain in the dark, unaware that their clothes may be contributing to the climate crisis and human exploitation.

What you can do

There are many ways you can be a Fashion Revolutionary. First, ask yourself what you are wearing. Do you know who made it and where it is made of? Think about it the next time you’re planning another purchase. Ask the people from the store, or ask the brand directly. On the Fashion Revolution website you find easy to use templates for social media and email to use.

What difference your voice can make? In 2020 Fashion Revolution got 2.9 billion global press reach and 49,000 new followers across social media channels. 159 policy makers got engaged, 489 partnerships emerged in 53 countries, and almost 13,000 letters were sent to brands avocating for garment worker rights. The issues in the fashion industry never fall on any single person, brand, or company. We have to focus on using our voices to transform the entire system.

Images: Noacode (header) and Fashion Revolution

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