How PR & Fashion Brands Can Make Moves Toward Sustainability

I first learned of the Fashion Revolution movement while speaking about green and culture marketing for fashions brands at Sustainatopia, a conference focused on social, financial and environmental sustainability and impact in 2014. Speakers from the movement were in attendance with “Who made my clothes?” t-shirts in tow. The question, of course, was beyond, “Who (as in which designer) are you wearing?” and specifically, “Who in the world put this garment together?” And more importantly: how are they treated, how is this garment sourced, and what impact is this great outfit I’m wearing having on the planet?

The movement supports a “long-term relationship with your clothes” (and to wear pieces more than 30 times). “The more we love our clothes, the more we care for them, and the longer they last.” In addition, it advocates for greater transparency in the fashion supply chain by encouraging us all to ask the question: “Who made my clothes?”

What started out as Fashion Revolution Day, has now grown to be known as “Fashion Revolution Week” which will be held on April 24-30, 2017.

Over the years I’ve watched this movement grow and I know that we have peers whose interest has grown as we learn that fashion is the second largest polluter on the planet. There are obvious efforts throughout the industry, from discussions on the impact of fast fashion, the rise of slow fashion, consumers’ increasing awareness and interest in sustainability practices to help curb our environmental impact.

I had an opportunity to grab some insight from Roxanne Houshmand-Howell, Head of Brands and Partnerships at Fashion Revolution. She shares some background about Fashion Revolution, as well as resources and suggestions on how PR and marketing agencies as well as brands can do to get involved.

When did Fashion Revolution begin? And what impact has Fashion Revolution had since its inception?

On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. 1,138 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. That’s when Fashion Revolution was born.

There were five garment factories in Rana Plaza all manufacturing clothing for the western market. The victims were mostly young women. We believe that 1,138 is too many people to lose from the planet in one building, on one terrible day to not stand up and demand change.

Since then, people from all over the world have come together to use the power of fashion to change the world. Fashion Revolution is now a global movement of people through our hashtag campaign #whomademyclothes? Last year 70,000 citizens asked this question.

Fashion Revolution’s mission is to encourage “an industry which values people, the environment, creativity and profits in equal measure, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure that this happens.

What is the best way for independent designers and brands to engage in the Revolution?

We invite brands and independent designers to get involved a number of ways; to show us the people in your supply chain by sharing their stories, and help transform the industry by demonstrating transparency in your supply chain.

Respond to #whomademyclothes? We want brands to be able to answer the question. We want to find out about the real people behind the clothes we wear. Find out more about the suppliers of your garments. If you know who made the clothes you sell or promote, try to find out more about the fabrics, trims, embellishments and raw materials.

Choose an item from your brand

  • Where is it from?
  • Who made it?
  • How is it made?

We have created tools on our website for designers and brands here.

Fashion Revolution’s mission is to encourage “an industry which values people, the environment, creativity and profits in equal measure, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure that this happens.

The movement has grown from a day to a week of awareness around the mission. The goal is certainly to have this focus be an everyday reality and mindset, but what has caused the growth from a day to a week? Was it an interest from the industry or a need for greater awareness?

Growth has come from citizen engagement, from people asking brands the question #whomademyclothes? We have also had support from influencers, including: actors Lily Cole and Bonnie Mbuli, actor/activist Rosario Dawson; designers Katharine Hamnett, Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood; pro surfer Kelly Slater and his brand, Outerknown; supermodel Amber Valletta; style icon and fashion editor, Caroline Issa, TV presenter and cook, Melissa Hemsley, vloggers Greta Menchi, Marzia Cutie Pie and Maddu; and journalists, Elisabeth Cline and Marion Hume.

What is the most positive impact you feel that Fashion Revolution has had to date?

We have sparked a wider public conversation, globally about the impacts of the fashion industry and our clothes,” says Sarah Ditty, head of policy for Fashion Revolution.

Last year alone:

  • 800 events were held in 92 countries
  • over 70k people asked brands #whomademyclothes?
  • 156 million impressions of the hashtags
  • 1,274 brands responded, including 372 global fashion brands
  • 2,600 producers shared their story with #imadeyourclothes
  • 22 billion online media reach

In our onboarding process with new clients, we always ask how they’re sourcing and point to various eco and sustainable resources because we feel that knowledge and awareness is critical. Some people just don’t know! How can PR practitioners share purpose-driven stories around Fashion Revolution and heart-centered sustainability (as it relates to fashion)?

At Fashion Revolution, we believe positive change can happen if we all think differently about fashion and demand better. This includes ensuring that fashion is an industry that values people, the environment, creativity, and the profit, in equal measure. At Fashion Revolution, our community is made up of: designers, academics, writers, business leaders, policymakers, brands, retailers, marketers, producers, makers, workers and fashion lovers. We are the industry and we are the public. We are world citizens who are responsible for this change.

“We have sparked a wider public conversation, globally about the impacts of the fashion industry and our clothes.”

We’ve produced resource guides that can help agencies and brands. These guides discuss what needs to change, for example, the model, material and mindset, and also looking at the human side of fashion which discusses human rights, fair pay, and artisan craft. And our “How to Be a Fashion Revolutionary” guide shares how businesses and individuals can make an impact. And for those who are fashion supporters and lovers, The #Haulternative provides social ideas and more.

Anything else you’d like to share?

We are about to launch the Fashion transparency index for 2017 ranking 40 of the biggest global fashion companies according to their level of transparency.

You can learn more about Fashion Revolution here, and we hope to “see” you April 24-30, 2017 at #whomademyclothes.

With so many resources and insights available, both brands and PR professionals have a wealth of supportive content to help tell this important story. I’ve personally never been a lover of “things” (clothing included), but I am a lover of people. At its core, the Fashion Revolution movement is about generating positive impact for people, our planet and everything in it (clothing included). How could one not want to be a part of telling this story and mobilizing for change!

Nancy Vaughn

Nancy Vaughn

Nancy Vaughn is an entrepreneur and principal, PR & Marketing Director of White Book Agency, a full-service public relations, marketing and special events firm, specializing in fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands. She excels at assisting media professionals and clients alike, and is called upon frequently by media outlets for her PR/business knowledge, coaching and industry connections. She leads strategic publicity and marketing campaigns for businesses across the country and her clients have been seen in/on: InStyle, New Beauty,, Forbes, Design Bureau, Luxe Interiors & Design, MSN Fitbie, E! TV, CNN Latino, Refinery 29, The New York Times, Daytime TV, Dwell and more.