We’re involved in running a session at the Royal Geographical Society (Institute of British Geography) annual conference this summer whose aim is to bring academic fashion experts into dialogue with the Fashion Revolution movement. We’re asking how fashion research can contribute to what is becoming a worldwide movement for a more ethical / sustainable fashion industry in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in April 2013. We’re looking for academic research from any discipline that can contribute to Fashion Revolution’s five year planning. Here’s what we’re doing. Please get in touch with Ian, Lousie and/or Alex to discuss any ideas. The deadline for abstracts is Friday 12th February.
– Call for papers –
Scholar activism and the Fashion Revolution: ‘who made my clothes?’
The collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex on April 24th 2013, which crushed to death over 1,000 people making clothes for Western brands, was a final straw, a call to arms, for significant change in the fashion industry. Since then, tens of thousands of people have taken to social media, to the streets, to their schools and halls of government to uncover the lives hidden in the clothes we wear. Businesses, consumers, governments, academics, NGOS and others working towards a safer, cleaner and more just future for the fashion industry have been galvanised.
Originated by ethical fashion pioneers, and drawing in designers, academics, writers, business leaders, policymakers, NGOs, brands, retailers, marketers, producers, makers, workers, consumers and activists, the Fashion Revolution movement that catalysed this change has nexus thinking at its heart.
After two years marking 24th April as Fashion Revolution Day, its #whomademyclothes? question for brands and retailers has had an extraordinary social media impact (64 million people used this hashtag on Twitter and Instagram in April 2015, and Fashion Revolution’s online content was seen 16.5 billion times). The Fashion Revolution movement has become truly global, with co-ordinators in over 80 countries. This popular support has given it considerable power in campaigning for change with governments, brands and retailers.
Our aim for this session is to bring fashion academics within and beyond geography into critical dialogue with the Fashion Revolution movement, to share insights from their research and to inform the Fashion Revolution’s work over the next five years. In Fashion Revolution’s white paper (Ditty 2015, 25), five areas for further research and thought have been outlined, to which we have added suggested paper themes.
1. Consumer research & demand (what do consumers understand about the fashion industry? What expectations do they have about its products and information? How can demands for more ethical and sustainable fashion be catalysed?)
o The fast fashion model: history, cycles, consequences.
o Materialities, narratives & values in fashion consumption.
o Recycling, upcycling, swishing, making & mending
o Customising, hiring, vintage & charity shopping.
o Investment shopping practices and the lifetimes of garments
o Geographical associations and dissociations: origins, provenance and place.
o Ethical shopping data, smartphone apps and consumption.
2. Policy and legislation (how, where and with whose support can change be mobilised by politicians, business people, national governments, intergovernmental organisations, supranational institutions, and related bodies? How can citizens influence policy-making and legislation?)
o International human rights and health and safety legislation: beyond toxic supply chains.
o National legislation on minimum wage and workers rights.
o Animal rights, Rules of Origin labelling, the trade in animals, bio-commodification
o Fashion labelling, consumer information and choice.
o Consumer petitioning, letter writing and political debate.
o Global fashion and climate change after Paris 2015.
3. Theorising fashion value (what examples of best practice can be gathered, studied and promoted? What can already existing examples of transparency show about what constitutes a ‘good’ fashion company?)
o Animal life and bio-commodification.
o Fast fashion, slow fashion, luxury
o Pre- and post-consumer waste, hidden water in clothing manufacture.
o From value chain to harm chain approaches.
o Challenges to ‘triple bottom line’ transparency.
o Ethical auditing cultures, scope and power.
o ‘Good fashion’ business models in theory & practice.
4. Engaging farmers, producers, workers and makers (how can the lives and work of the least visible people in fashion supply chains be highlighted, celebrated and listened to? How can we better connect the people who make and buy fashion?)
o ‘I made your clothes’: garment workers’ engagements in Fashion Revolution, NGO campaigning, unionisation, democratic politics and consumer-facing communication.
o Researching fashion: access, ethics, voice, collaboration & audiences.
o Complicating the producer-consumer divide.
o Supporting lost artisanal and craft skills and traditions.
5. Amplifying and supporting NGO work (how is the human rights and sustainability work of NGOs and labour unions such as the Clean Clothes Campaign, Labour Behind the Label, Greenpeace, Bangladesh Accord and IndustriALL coordinated? How can Fashion Revolution amplify public awareness and demand for these organisations’ work?)
o Strategies, tactics, financing & cultures of fashion campaigning.
o Activism within and beyond the fashion industry.
o Tactics for engaging wider publics in fashion ethics debates.
o Amplifying public awareness and demands for ethical fashion.
o Coordinated NGO action and socio-cultural-economic change.
Ditty, S. (2015) It’s time for a Fashion Revolution: white paper. Ashbourne: Fashion Revolution (http://fashionrevolution.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/FashRev_Whitepaper_Dec2015_screen.pdf)
Please provide author name(s), author affiliation(s), author email(s), paper title, paper abstract (~200 words) and an indication of which author(s) will be presenting. Please submit this information firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 12 February 2016. We will notify all authors of whether their paper can be accommodated in the session by 16 February at the latest (this will allow the conference deadline of 19 February to be met)