The annual recurrence on April 24 is led by the non-profit of the same name that “campaigns for a clean, safe, fair, transparent and accountable fashion industry.” Citizens are encouraged to ask brands and retailers a question that centres on accountability: “Who made my clothes?”.
In this “Coronavirus edition” of #fashionrevolutionday, we address two very current problems by asking “Who made my mask?”. With the world on lockdown and thinking about how to address a “phase II” of careful coexistence with the virus, face masks are recommended for the general population. Two issues, similar to those of fast fashion, arise.
The first is about materials and disposal. Millions of single-use, surgical type face masks made of non-woven fabrics are being distributed, used, and thrown away – often as litter on our city’s streets – and this is going to cause a landfill problem.
The second is the ethical side of production: who is making these masks? In what conditions? With the garment business in severe crisis and governments encouraging conversion to meet the demand for masks, many factories are calling back workers. Where sub-minimum-wage pay and poor working conditions were a sad norm before the crisis, one that has caused disasters like Rana Plaza, now this situation is almost a guarantee of potentially fatal infection (see this article in the LA Times about sweatshops in LA during coronavirus).