Maxine Bédat is trying to spark a grassroots movement.
The Zady.com cofounder and chief executive officer and U.S. chair of Fashion Revolution, a worldwide event starting today, is calling on consumers to demand ethical and sustainable production and urging brands to be more transparent and accountable for their supply chains.
Zady was launched in 2013 to celebrate organic apparel as a lifestyle. Besides its own collection, Zady sells dozens of other sustainable women’s, men’s, beauty, accessories, jewelry and home brands. The company’s approach is outlined in The New Standard.
Fashion Revolution, which culminates on April 24 — dubbed Fashion Revolution Day — is also the three-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1,134 people.
“The need for change in the industry was evident prior to Rana Plaza,” Bedat said. “There have been labor organizations working in these areas for quite some time. The tragedy of Rana Plaza brought these groups together and created a global movement around what was before isolated work.”
There’s been a lot of criticism of the response of fashion companies implicated in the tragedy, from compensating the victims and their families to addressing the underlying issues surrounding the collapse. “Work has been done, but I think no one would argue that we as an industry have done enough,” Bedat said. “The fact is that people are taking about it and that’s progress. Now is the time to transition the talk to unified action.”
Fashion Revolution kicks off tonight with an awards presentation at The New School’s Parson School of Design recognizing industry leaders who’ve made strides in supporting sustainable fashion. There will be three honorees.
“We looked at the ecosystem of fashion, understanding that the future of fashion doesn’t come just from within the industry but those that impact it as well,” Bedat said. Following the awards, there will be a conversation about fashion and sustainability.
Another element of Fashion Revolution is a social media campaign asking consumers to question the production of their garments using the hashtags #FashRev and #WhoMadeMyClothes. Consumers can upload a photos of themselves wearing a garment inside out to show the label. They can tag the brand along with a query about the origin and process involved in making the product.
Zady on Earth Day, which is April 22, will launch a T-shirt made from USDA-certified organic cotton, grown and ginned in Texas, then spun, knit, cut, sewn and dyed in North Carolina before finally, being embroidered in New York.
Bedat said consumers are willing to pay a little more for ethically produced apparel. “People want to see value,” she said. “That means great design, beautiful fabrication and great fibers. That’s what people are excited to be a part of with Zady. Sustainability is a component of that value and that quality.”
According to Bedat, fashion, which employs one in six people globally, is the second most polluting industry. “It has an enormous impact on our world and yet even people within the industry don’t know its impact,” she said. “For there to be change, there needs to be awareness.”