“Living on a healthy and thriving planet should be a fundamental human right, and urgent action is required from the local fashion industry for us to achieve this”
— Fashion Revolution Malaysia
Fashion Revolution Week — the annual global campaign that aims to shift the fashion industry to value people and the planet over profit and growth — is back in Malaysia and will run from 19th to the 25th of April 2021.
This year, Fashion Revolution Malaysia is calling on the fashion industry and Malaysians to recognise the interconnection between human rights and the rights of nature. We believe that a radical shift is highly needed in our relationships — be it with each other, with our clothes, within fashion supply chains and with the natural world — for the rights of both people and nature to be upheld and protected wherever decisions are being made.
Fashion Revolution stands true to the belief that the human exploitation and ecosystem degradation we see all around us today are the product of centuries of colonialism and globalised exploitation, stemming from a western-focused worldview in which human and environmental prosperity are often portrayed as isolated and disconnected from each other.
What is more, garment production has been predicted to grow as much as 81 per cent by 2030 — thus resulting in an ever-growing demand for agricultural land to produce cotton, viscose, wool, rubber, leather hides and other natural fibres.
On that note, over 150 million trees are logged every year to be turned into cellulosic fabrics, such as viscose, with cattle ranching as the largest driver of deforestation in the Amazon. Cutting down forests leads to habitat loss and increases the risk of disease transmission from wildlife to humans, consequently increasing the risk of future pandemics.
Furthermore, some of the most severe and exploitative working conditions — as well as some of the foulest environmental damage — transpires deep within the fashion supply chains where materials are grown and fabrics are made, as was brought to light by recent revelations of forced labour of Uighurs in the Xinjiang region of China.
“Last spring, I saw first-hand the impact our clothing is having in the remotest corners of the planet,” Fashion Revolution Co-founder Carry Somers states. “I sailed over 2000 miles into the South Pacific Gyre, and every water sample we took contained fibres from our clothes. Tap water across the world — including the US and Europe — is widely contaminated with microfibres, harbouring toxic chemicals that can affect our health.”
Fashion Revolution Malaysia believes that our country is facing its own issues within the fashion industry, which is why we will be campaigning for a revolution to bring about a shift in the way our fashion industry works — for the sake and health of our Mother Earth and for our own prosperity and wellbeing.
We cannot afford to continue to extract dwindling resources from an already strained planet, pollute our land and our oceans, fall far short of climate change targets, dump our waste on the shoulders of other countries and ignore who is facing inequality and human rights abuses in every part of the industry.
Therefore, the time has come to demand a deeper level of transparency, to ask not only #WhoMadeMyClothes but also #WhoMadeMyFabric — both of which are a part of our social media campaigns — to bring to light issues that are surrounding our local fabric and garment makers within the industry.
Today, the world’s biggest fashion activism movement — with teams in over 90 countries around the world — will use this Fashion Revolution Week to bring people together from across our community, amplifying unheard and marginalised voices, while working together to explore interconnected solutions. Fashion Revolution Malaysia will be sharing the stories of those affected by change, with those who are asking for change, to pressure those who need to change.
Via a purely virtual setup for Fashion Revolution Week this year, we will be hosting a series of virtual talks and webinars across the week, collaborating with Global Shapers Kuala Lumpur, Think City Institute and Raffles College of Higher Education (Kuala Lumpur) along with a suite of guests speakers from the Malaysian fashion industry and community.
Our virtual events include:
- Industry Panels – Live webinars with prominent voices in sustainable and ethical fashion and overall industry discussing the challenges and solutions available.
- Community Discussions and Teach-Ins – Knowledge sharing by conscious fashion style advocates and local key opinion leaders to encourage sustainable behaviour shifts with resources, local perspectives, and tried-and-tested methods – held over IG Live, FB Live and Clubhouse.
- #MeetTheMaker Series – A series of interviews where we will hear from local artisans in their own words, sharing how they work and the issues they face in their reality of being a garment worker.
- Consumer Behaviour Survey on Fashion Consumption – We have limited local data on consumer sentiment around the consumption and sustainability of fashion with most studies being western-focused. We aim to address the misconception that the growing concern amongst consumers in sustainability is a ‘Western’ concept with a report specific to a Malaysian dataset, supporting a Southeast Asian study conducted by Fashion Revolution Singapore and Oxford Development Consultancy.
Our community sessions aim to recapture one of the lost joys of in-person, community-driven events – the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals around a common passion and cause and actively engage in conversation on ideas and solutions to spur greater momentum in advocating for lasting change.
“Fashion Revolution Week in Malaysia will be packed with initiatives that aim to bring widespread issues in the fashion industry closer to home – how does it relate to us here in Malaysia and more importantly, how can we take action? We need to reframe the way we enjoy and produce fashion so that it is healthier for people and our planet. Fashion is about creativity and expression, not consumption and exploitation, and we’d love to invite all Malaysians to join in the movement ” says Melissa Tan, Fashion Revolution Malaysia’s acting Country Coordinator.
Our conversations, webinars, stories, and worker profiles of local garment makers in Malaysia will come together to introduce a new dominant cultural narrative based on a just transition, where transparency, respecting human rights, dignity and conserving the environment becomes a driving force for the public and for the fashion industry.
In summary Fashion Revolution Malaysia aims to:
- Amplify unheard voices: Those of supply chain producers, workers and communities affected by the fashion industry, giving them more visibility and providing a platform for their stories.
- Widen community participation: Mobilising people and their communities around the world to speak up, come together and take action to create the systemic change that is urgently needed across the fashion industry.
Fashion Revolution Malaysia believes that if we work together and stand united, we will see a future where both the local and global fashion industry plays their part in conserving and restoring the environment while also putting value on people and our planet over profit and growth.
Now is the time for a fashion revolution!