Speech 1: Tabea, 11e

Hi everyone, I’m Tabea. As yet another representative of the 11e in accordance to our project “Fashion Revolution”, I think that it is highly important to spread the word about the cause itself.

To summarize this briefly, the very first Fashion Revolution week took place on the 24th to 30th of April 2013. The week is used to encourage people to question the brands that make their clothes and what journey the clothes might have encountered along the way. Currently, there is a large difficulty in the world of fashion. With the emergence of the Fashion Revolution, different brands and retailers continually are challenged to take responsibility for their actions – for the individuals that their businesses so greatly depend on.

In a report made by a campaign called “Behind the Barcode”, out of the 219 biggest fashion brands we see today, only half of these actually know where their clothes originate. The supply therefore just keeps on going and the cycle repeats itself again and again.

So we suggest that you look around you. Each and every single one of you is wearing a certain type of clothing – all from different brands. We see people sporting the latest fashions and observe as “trends” pass us by each year. But have you ever truly wondered where these clothes might come from? Who might have been behind the process of making them? This was the exact question first asked by representatives of the Fashion Revolution. People wanted to know exactly where their clothes came from. Without the lies or hidden tricks. With full transparency. Though we have probably heard a lot about the damage the fashion industry has done, for example sweatshops, but are we still fully aware of the consequences? And what do we do with the clothes once we have them? A lot of the time, all the effort put into making them is put to waste. It is estimated that consumers within Europe have an estimated 30 billion Euro worth of unworn clothes just lingering in their closets. Something needs to change. And by taking part in this, I do hope that something will change – even if by just a little bit. So if you are interested in this cause, just visit the Fashion Revolution website to gain further insight.

I hope that this has helped in spreading the word. Thanks a lot for listening and enjoy the rest of your day.

Speech 2: Joshua 11e

Fashion Revolution Day 24 April 2017: Student Speech

Clothing. Originally used as a means of protection against the elements, it has become one of the key parts of our lives. It reflects our history, our culture and at certain times our mood. Fashion has become one of many forms of self-expression. But why should all this come at the cost of somebody else’s happiness? People around the world toil endlessly to provide us with these garments and, though we hate to admit it, we often take them for granted. The Fashion Revolution is trying to help the people who make our clothes get what they deserve, because unfortunately these people are being treated unfairly.

The Fashion Revolution movement began on the 24th of April 2013, on the same day that a horrific accident in Dhaka, Bangladesh claimed the lives of 1,130 people and injured 2,500. The Rana Plaza factory complex had collapsed, killing many of the people working inside. Among the rubble lay tags with the names of familiar clothing brands printed on them. This made people realise that they were largely unaware of where their clothes were made and that some of their favourite brands were not as holy as they made themselves out to be.

Something needs to change. It’s what the Fashion Revolution has been working towards for the last 4 years. The Rana Plaza incident isn’t the first of its kind. As early as 1911, 123 women and 23 men perished in a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Manhattan, New York. What we desperately need are better working conditions for these people. The sad truth is that most large brands do not work actively to make sure that basic needs are met for these workers. The real problem is transparency. The reason that we know so little about the issue is because companies don’t provide that information. What is probably most shocking is that some corporations didn’t even know that their clothes were being produced at the Rana Plaza complex. How are things ever supposed to improve if even the brands themselves don’t know where, how and by whom their clothes were made?

I’ll be honest, before we began planning this event as a class, I didn’t think much about where my clothes came from or who made them. I think that’s the case for most of us. When we go shopping, those kind of thoughts get pushed to the back of the mind. In the split second that that flashy new shirt catches our eye, all we can think of is how good it looks and how much we want to have it. But the reality is that it came from somewhere, that somebody made it; a somebody just like you or me. More often than not they are a man or woman from a developing country, an underpaid worker trying to sustain their family. Sometimes it is even a child. According to the International Labour Organisation, there were around 215 million children working throughout the world in 2015. Some of our clothes may very well be the product of child labour and we don’t even know it. We often hear that the living standards around the world are improving and that we are generally moving in the right direction, but this is only true for a portion of the population. Some people are being left behind.

Ignorance is what is holding us back from improving the situation. But our ignorance isn’t entirely our own fault. What we need is more transparency from the manufacturers of our clothes. We must raise awareness of the situation of the workers. You may be asking yourselves how we can make a change, how we can help someone on the other side of the world who we have never met before. But you don’t have to do something complicated. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money; the simple actions add up. We can help by hosting events like these, letting people know about the situation. Even shopping selectively can help, like buying clothes from manufacturers that treat their workers fairly. And finally, you can help by using social media to force the hand of the large corporations. On Twitter there is already a hashtag. Just tweet #whomademyclothes at a clothing brand of your choice, because the problem can only be resolved once we receive an answer.

Thank you for your attention. I hope you enjoy yourselves today. Feel free to take part in some of the activities, maybe watch a video. A few more speeches will be held throughout the day so feel free to attend those as well.

Thanks and have a good day.

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Nelson Mandela School is a diverse and inclusive international bilingual state school, teaching from grade 1 to 13. Students in the final year can graduate with either the bilingual Abitur or the International Baccalaureate (IB).
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