The collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh in April 2013 shocked the world. The building had been illegally extended and on 24 April the whole thing collapsed; 1,138 garment workers lost their lives and hundreds more were left with injuries that rendered them incapable of returning to work.
The date of the incident has now become Fashion Revolution Day, the centrepoint of a new movement to end exploitation in the fashion industry. The Fashion Revolution campaign seeks to raise consumer awareness, using the social media hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes. Three years after its inception, Fashion Revolution is growing – determined to ensure garment workers’ rights stay on the agenda.
Each year, Manchester’s Stitched Up Cooperative marks Fashion Revolution Day. This year, we held three events: a double-bill film screening and panel discussion, a clothes swap and an ethical fashion show.
The film event, held in partnership with the Resyntex textile recycling project at Manchester Metropolitan University, involved two films focused on very different aspects of the fashion industry. The Secret Life of Your Clothes examines what happens to the clothes we donate to charity shops, and follows a bale of clothing as it’s exported to Ghana. Clothes to Die For tells the stories of several survivors of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, all of whom face ongoing struggles as a result of the incident, including inability to work and lasting psychological trauma.
We had a full house and a lively discussion after the films, with many people eager to find out what they could do to help. We feel it’s vital to offer ideas for practical action alongside awareness-raising – the key is channelling this positive energy and encouraging people to act.
That’s why Stitched Up is currently working on a number of projects to encourage people to become actively involved in creating a fairer fashion industry. Having previously worked with Labour Behind the Label, we are establishing a regular discussion group for individuals wanting to learn more about the issues facing garment workers and campaigning for change. In May, the group participated in the Clean Clothes Campaign’s global day of action against H&M. The actions sought to hold the retailer to the promises it had made under the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh in the wake of the Rana Plaza incident – things such as ensuring factory fire escape routes were clear and doors kept unlocked. Forty-five demonstrations took place across eleven countries and the day received coverage in the press and social media worldwide.
Stitched Up also organises alternative fashion shows, seeking to democratise fashion by showcasing clothes from local, sustainable designers, modelled by real people from our community. Shoppers view the clothes up close and gain an insight into the design and production processes by speaking directly to the designers.
Our other activities include teaching clothes making, mending and upcycling workshops, hosting regular clothes swaps, selling sustainable fabrics via our reclaimed haberdashery and holding educational events for the local community such as film screenings and speakers. We’ve also set up a monthly Manchester Repair Cafe, where visitors can get help fixing broken household items.
We’d be delighted to hear from anyone in or near Manchester who’d like to get involved. And wherever you are in the world, we’d urge you to check out the Fashion Revolution website – it’s a global movement that’s growing by the day, so there’s bound to be something happening near you.
Charlie Clarke and Heather Mendick discuss how to work through the tensions within Momentum
As man-made global warming gets closer to the tipping point, Andrew Simms finds reasons to be positive about averting catastrophic climate change
In this extract from his new book The Candidate, Alex Nunns tells the inside story of how Jeremy Corbyn scraped onto the Labour leadership ballot in 2015
Graham Jones proposes a framework for a diverse movement to flourish
Musician Eliane Correa reflects on the fading revolution
Trump's victory is another sign of the failure of the centre-left's narrative on climate change. A new message is needed, and new politicians to deliver it, writes Alex Randall
Siobhán McGuirk says the question we are too afraid to ask is simple - what kind of society leads to Donald Trump as President?
The battle lines are clear. Democracy is in peril and the left must take itself seriously electorally and politically. Ruth Potts speaks to Gary Younge, who was based in Muncie, Indiana, for the US election, about the implications of Donald Trump’s victory
We need a society built on openness, community and equality to truly defeat everything that trump stands for, writes Nick Dearden.
Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
Short story: Syrenka
A short story by Kirsten Irving
Utopia: Industrial Workers Taking the Wheel
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry – and its lessons for today
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant
Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’
Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue
Utopia: Room for all
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK
A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank
News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions
Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release
Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts
‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette
The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.
How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op
Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU
Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson
Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release
University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.
Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.
Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History
Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.
A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas
Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
'A small manifesto for black liberation through socialist revolution' - Graham Campbell reviews Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation'
The Fashion Revolution: Turn to the left
Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion
The abolition of Art History A-Level will exacerbate social inequality
This is a massive blow to the rights of ordinary kids to have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Danielle Child reports.
Mass civil disobedience in Sudan
A three-day general strike has brought Sudan to a stand still as people mobilise against the government and inequality. Jenny Nelson writes.
Mustang film review: Three fingers to Erdogan
Laura Nicholson reviews Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s unashamedly feminist film critique of Turkey’s creeping conservatism
What if the workers were in control?
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry